Saturday, June 16, 2007


Beijing's Wangfujing Jie (Street) is a little of Singapore's Orchard Road and Chinatown rolled into one. It is also somewhat like Shanghai's Nanjing Jie (Street) where trams travel up and down the long long pedestrian mall. At the time of my visit though, there is still construction work going on along Wanfujing's boulevard.

Like Nanjing Jie and Orchard Road, branded shops and department stores line the Wanfujing boulevard. Like Singapore's Chinatown, there are many shops selling typically Chinese products - such as herbs and tea. Like Chinatown, there are small traditional shops dotted around Nanjing Jie.

In Wangfujing, you can enter a side street that is a bustle of activity, much like what Singapore's Chinatown used to have. Chinatown still has them now, but it is more sanitised. These series of streets sells traditional and popular Chinese food and souvenirs. It even has a Chinese Opera show that seems to run on and on. Children will be delighted to find shops selling 'Tanghulu' - or crystalline sugar-coated haws on a stick available at some of these stores. Eating them was another thing though. I found the haw pretty sour. If not for the sugar-coating, the haw would be almost inedible. I remember eating the same in Shanghai in December last year. Somehow, it tasted less sour and more pleasant.

One of the more common cuisine is the meat on a stick or barbecued meat. There are various, ranging from cuttlefish to pork to chicken to beef to lamb. True to character, there is nothing that the Chinese would not eat The sticks are really long and has more meat compared to Singapore's satay. Well worth a try. I wasn't so adventurous so I only ordered a couple of other noodles, minced beef and and 'jiaozhi' - all of which are edible but not fantastically so.

You have to soak up the atmosphere....

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