Correct me if I'm wrong - but I can't imagine coffee shops to be so ubiquitous in China ten years ago. With its increasing status quo and wealth, China has lost no time devouring Western consumer goods - including coffee.
Being the capital of the Qing dynasty, Beijing (and northern Chinese cuisines in general) food has been influenced non-Han traditions, especially Muslim. While pork is the most common meat throughout China, lamb is very common here. The most celebrated way of eating it is to blanch paper-thin slices of lamb or mutton in a hotpot. A friend of mine took me out to one of the most traditional places for Beijing-style hotpot (涮羊肉):
|All sorts of snacks are sold here as well|
|The greenish-grey liquid on the left is worth of mention here. It's called 'bean juice' 豆汁. Remember those thin vermicelli (粉絲) made from mung beans? If you ferment the water leftover from making the vermicelli, you're left with this sour, kind of foul-tasting beverage that traditional Beijing people drink at breakfast time. You're meant to dip the crispy wafer and spicy pickle at the bottom of the photo into the drink so that you experience sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavours all at once. The challenging taste of bean juice is legendary, and I had wanted to try it for donkey's years. Verdict? It's best left for discerning locals...|
|The traditional kind of hotpot used in Beijing-style hotpot - a fluted copper pan. The soup base is simply water with leeks, red dates and goji berries.|
|There were only two of us, so a feast was out of the question. We ordered lamb and beef intestines in their natural colour - black. The white variety you see in Cantonese dim sum is actually bleached.|