Jian Bing in Beijing

We’ve just got back from six days of stuffing ourselves in Beijing.

Although I’m admittedly biased, I found that a lot of the best food I ate there was street food. With the exception of a great Sichuan place, most of the bricks and mortar food we encountered was pretty sub-par. It tended to be either glowing with msg or arrived in such vast, mono-flavored portions that most plates were abandoned in despair not long after they arrived.

Street food was different. As far as I could see most was msg free and designed more with hunger and convenience in mind than elaborate displays of Chinese catering. With the exception of scorpions and other “OMG you’re not seriously going to eat that?” nonsense in the tourist markets, this generally involved cold noodles, skewered meat or something bready, eggy and saucy.

One of the latter was Jian Bing. I tried a couple of different versions of this around the city but the best was from a hole in the wall just outside Sihuan Market. A thin crepe is fried up on a circular hot plate, covered in egg, brushed with hoisin and chile sauce, then wrapped around a thin piece of deep fried dough. The result is a spicy, crunchy, hand-sized roll. It reminded us a little bit of a crisp (or potato chip) sandwich and was great for munching around the market with.

Still to come – The best lamb kebabs in the world and Roujiamou, the so-called “Chinese Hamburger.”