Let me start off by saying that I have yet to encounter anything I haven’t liked in the week and a half since we’ve landed. On the major street between iHouse and the university there has to be at least 50 different places to get food and/or drinks. There is a delicious bakery with all sorts of goodies, (sweet and savory -but all of the bread here is slightly sweet), an all around place that serves many things (our favorite there is the egg breakfast sandwich), and a juice place that turns any fruit in to a drink. Many places to eat here are one large room with a kitchen on one side and many tables squeezed in with garage door type opening so a lot of people can be coming and going at once, like the top right photo.
For breakfast Chris and I usually get an egg breakfast sandwich or baozi, a steamed bun with delicious meat/spice mixture inside, and eat it while walking to class. Once we arrive on campus we get a coffee or other drink from the vending machine. To my surprise I actually enjoy canned coffee! Some are better than others and I have found Mr. Brown to be my favorite. Another vending machine in our building serves hot drinks so we have the option of hot teas and Milo, etc.
I love walking around to see different vending machines because there are usually some strangely named drinks inside for example, my favorite: POCARI SWEAT. It is basically Gatorade in a can but the name is so weird I just laughed out loud. When we finally bought one and tasted it, I concluded it’s like Squirt (Grapefruit soda) without carbonation.
When we leave campus at 11:15ish we head out to get lunch. Recently we have found a few places that sell lunch boxes to go which are awesome. They have clear lids, basically the only way to get any idea of what you’ll be eating. They are very pretty and nicely packed as you eat with your eyes firstly. Another old woman that sells lunch boxes has boxes without clear lids so you just ask for them and she hands you whatever she has in the warmer. When Chris and I decided to get lunch from this lady one day we ended up with two very different, but tasty meals. He had sliced pork on rice and I had a deep fried slice of ham with cheese. Totally something I wasn’t expecting but it was delicious. Since we’ve eaten this quite a few times I have assumed they are packaged quite the same. The main section has rice with a protein and sauce, and the three side dishes are either vegetables, tofu, or noodles -or a combination of the three. I still haven’t mastered eating rice with chopsticks so by the end usually I just try and shovel it in to my mouth.
If you thought all this was good, dinner time is where it’s at… Everyone is out and about and the smells are unbelievable. Every store is open and cooking and crammed full of people. Most of them there after a long day of school or work. It seems like a lot people eat out for most meals, which isn’t too difficult to do since there are millions of places to eat and it’s quite inexpensive. These are some things we’ve eaten for dinner lately. Top left is dumplings, right is beef noodle soup, bottom right is spicy chicken on top of rice with an egg and vegetables, and the crepe was a dessert.
Here’s also a carb dinner from the bakery. Pizza style bread, bread with cheese, bread with bacon, and sweets. Plus snacks and bubble milk tea. (We don’t usually eat this badly.) This was all under $7 US.
One sit-down restaurant we have been to called “We Are The World” serves full meals plus a drink for 130元 which is $4.40. You pick up an order form when you walk in, sit down, fill out your form with what meal and drink you want, take it back to the front and pay then sit back down and wait to be served. It only takes at most 10 minutes and it is a large meal even to American standards. We have ordered Spicy Chicken, Spicy Pork Chop, Spicy Curry Chicken, all which have been top-notch. They pride themselves on serving food of the world but I would say it is an Asian twist on worldly food, as all the side dishes are the same as the lunch boxes (tofu, vegetables, or noodles) and the protein is served on rice with an egg.
Finally I’ll take you through the grocery store where we found many strange items and even new fruits! This is Wellcome, the 24 hour grocery store about 2 minutes from our place.
The fruits here are strange, either gigantic or tiny. Avocados, apples, starfruit, and persimmons, all huge. Strawberries, tiny and served with a container of Fructose Syrup.
Here is a new fruit we found called Rose Apple or lian wu. Tastes sort of like an apple, less sweet, with the texture of a watermelon.. hard to describe.
To the left is a “Vegetable Sponge” literally what the sign said. It felt like a sponge and was bumpy on the outside, the closest thing I could compare it to is a squash I guess. Then there are drinks, some with funny names.
Here are some “American” corn snacks and Oreo snacks, not sure of their legality since there are no Nabisco marks anywhere, and Skittles. Then some interesting chip flavors and a funny named soda.
My favorite thing I found though is Asparagus Juice. Who in their right minds would think of making this a drink? “Hmm, let’s take the most disgusting smelling vegetable and put it in a can, OR better yet a family size bottle!” Ew. Maybe by the next time I’ll have mustered up enough guts to give it a try or made a good enough dare for someone else to.