A little insight on my DongBei culinary trip. DongBei refers to China’s 3 NorthEast provinces: Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. I wish I had time to visit Jilin, but with only 5 days, I had to content myself with Harbin (provincial capital of Heilongjiang) and ShenYang (capital of Liaoning).
DongBei food most prominent feature is its size. I’m a big eater and together with my boyfriend, we rarely leave any crumbs behind. But ever since our arrival in Harbin, we have been having leftovers for every Chinese meal we had. My previous two articles have been about Shuijiao (see here and here), or boiled dumplings. Not to be confused with wonton, shuijiao paired with shuijiao tang (which is basically soup from the water they boil the dumplings in) and a little bit of good quality black vinegar could taste like heaven on a very cold winter day. Here’s a list of the restaurants I frequented aside from those mentioned in the previous posts:
1. The first two days I relied heavily on Wikitravel guide. To my dismay, it guided us to some very disappointing restaurants. After conversing with various taxi drivers (and relying on our instincts), we managed to find a really good Jiaozi restaurant (hip hip hooray!) The restaurant is called Xi Jia De (喜家德) and it’s located just on the street next to Sofia. You can’t miss it.
Verdict: 8/10. The skin was soft but firm. We ordered 虾仁 which is basically shrimps, and let’s just say they were very generous in their ingredients.
2. Aside from boiled dumplings, Dongbei also has other specialty dish such as 杀猪菜 (Sha Zhu Cai – Kill Pig Dish). The restaurant is called 大丰收 (Da Feng Shou), and they’re located at 一曼街283号 (Yi Man Jie 283).
I didn’t think much of it. It was very standard and the pig’s blood was rather smelly. But the ambience was very Dongbei and was rather cute. 4/10.
3. It was freaking cold and we were craving for noodles. Couldn’t be bothered to walk that far, so we went into the most “decent-looking” noodle shop in Zhong Yang Da Jie (only to find that the interior is nothing like the exterior).
Verdict: 4/10. If it was only based on the noodle, I’d give it a 1: tasteless, bland and lacking in many things. But the pork ribs were tender and surprisingly OK. The lady-owner was very pushy and like other Chinese lady-owners, she boasted about the quality of her food and assured us that if we were not satisfied, she would not charge us. I showed my dissatisfaction towards the noodle and of course, I didn’t get a refund. Typical. Skip this restaurant and go someplace else.
4. You will find sweets in every corner of Harbin, but the green store in the middle of Zhong Yang Da Jie (中央大街) sells the best ice lolly. Two and a half years ago, I studied a text in my Mandarin class on Harbiner’s habit of eating ice lolly during winter. When in Rome…
8/10.This lolly actually tasted freaking good. Get proper thermal gloves. I only had one pair on and my fingers were freezing.
5. In ShenYang, we went to a local establishment called 那家管 (Na Jia Guan – ask the driver, he should know where to take you), which was a nightmare to find. It is far from the station, so if you only have a few hours to kill, go eat somewhere else. We stopped at ShenYang for 5 hours to eat and look around, but in the end our time was only enough to eat.
Portions were too big and oily. I wish I could show more pictures, but the waitress forbade me from taking more pictures. 5/10. I heard Shuijiao in ShenYang is very good though
6. I started watching Dexter last week and I went into a bad donut craving. Worse, there are no donuts place in Beijing and I couldn’t satisfy my craving! But we found this in the middle of ShenYang:
They don’t even have Dunkin’ Donuts in Beijing, but they have it in some provincial city. I found that quite odd, but soon dismissed my doubt that the store could be fake. I had three donuts and dunked them into a cup of Latte. Bliss!
Cravings satisfied, 9/10