Eating out is considerably cheap in China, especially when you compare it to Europe and North America. This means sitting in restaurants in part of the daily routine of every laowai. And most of the people I know (students or young professionals), even when they eat at home it’s usually takeout. That’s why the following words are very useful:
打包 (dǎ bāo) – to wrap, bag or pack something. In restaurants it usually means to put the remaining food in a doggy bag, but you can also use it when you order to indicate you want it to go.
带走 (dài zǒu) – this how you say ‘to go’ and you can only use it at the moment of order. 带 means to carry or to take and 走 means to walk or to go, so basically you’re saying you want to take it and go.
My Favorite Takeout
Ever since I moved to a new place last September, I have a new favorite takeout. The food court in the supermarket across the street from my apartment has help me rediscover the pleasure that is shuijiao. You heard me right! I said food court. I know it’s usually the last place you expect to find good food but the jiaozi of Xingfu Supermarket food court can stand tall and proud among Beijing’s finest dumplings. I kid you not. I will admit the joint doesn’t offer a lot of fillings to choose from, just pork or veggie fillings, But what they lack in variety they make up in quality:
My favorite filling is zucchini and eggs (西葫芦鸡蛋 – xī hú lu jī dàn, bottom left in the photo above) and that is surprising to me because I am not a big fan of zucchini. I haven’t seen this kind of filling in many other places but a serious dumpling restaurant should have it on the menu, and I really recommend trying it.
To me it has become a little ritual. I sit in front of my computer with one of my favorite shows ready to play; I flick the little bag of vinegar to remix the chili inside (as if it was heroin or something) before pouring it, and I even get grape juice which reminds me of my childhood. I can be the perfect ending to a long day.