Publié le par chrislzh

Tianjin is not too bad for food, really. There are some pretty damn good restaurants around. The 东北一家人 chain, or at least its branches on Pingshan Dao and Huanhu Lu, is  good, and consistently so. 百饺院's branch on Pingshan Dao has only once or twice done me wrong- usually in the huiguorou. But huiguorou is a difficult dish: It's damn near impossible to find a restaurant that can cook it well. Restaurants that do a good huiguorou consistently are rarer than hen's teeth. Having said that, the Sichuan place whose name I can't remember just up from the Dongbeiyijiaren on Huanhu Lu has never given me reason to complain about their huiguorou. Then there's a good little Hunan-style place on Pingshan Dao. And the Xinjiang restaurant I and my colleagues often go to just across the canal from Wujiayao Dajie is, well, despite its oddities, consistently good.

But none of these restaurants serve Tianjin-style food. And that is a problem. I was once invited out to Goubuli. Hearing the name, I asked rather pointedly, Where is that? Well, it was the proper restaurant at 食品街 fortunately not one of those silly attempts at a fast food chain. So I thought, well, it can't be that bad. About the only thing that made the (shared) taxi fare to and from Shipin Jie worth it was the company. They were alright. The baozi were only slightly better than vomit-inducing, and the best of the dishes only just scraped through into the 'mediocre' category. And to top off the whole experience, it fell to me, as the only one present who could read the menu, to order. So all of the gastronomic pain induced could be partly blamed on me.

But tonight I ate a meal that was even worse. I doubt you could classify it as Tianjin food. The restaurant billed itself as the "香河肉饼王", or words to that effect. Xianghe, so far as I can tell, is in that odd little slice of Hebei stuck between Beijing and Tianjin. I'm not really sure. Anyway, when my ban jin of yangroubing arrived, it, well, it wasn't... It was more of a ban jin of oil. There was so much oil in this thing you could probably have stuffed my ban jin of alleged yangroubing into the petrol tank of your average Xiali taxi, and the driver could have driven a regular taxi round for a year or more. I tried to pick this stuff up, but it kind of slobbered off my chopsticks in a Jabba the Hutt kind of way. And it tasted foul beyond all imagining. Really. This wasn't just oil. It was oil of a very indeterminate origin.

So on the way back to the foreign teacher storage warehouse I bought a bottle of Chinese booze of indeterminate origin in order to wash away the nasty lingering taste of all that oil and to protect myself from any nasty oil-bugs that may have been lurking, waiting for their chance to wreak havoc on my poor, unsuspecting body.

Publié dans chrislzh

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