Day 5 Saw my brother in the morning. He had homemade wontons for breakfast, while I had three bowls of Chao Gan that my dad bought at a nearby street vendor.
1. Chao Gan (炒肝): 3 RMB/bowl. Normally Beijing people likes to eat Chao Gan with Bao Zi together for breakfast (see my next episode), but I am just happy to eat Chao Gan alone when it is this good.
We stayed home and talked most of the time except going out for lunch. We went to Dong Lai Shun Hot Pot Restaurant near Panjiayuan Antique Market. Hot pot is a very traditional meal in China, especially in winter. In the old days, we used to use copper pot with charcoal fire in the middle. It was kind of messy and required some skill to get the charcoal going. These days people either uses solid alcohol or external heating for the pot. It is much easier.
2. The hole is where charcoal used to be placed.
3. To eat hot pot, cook some stuff in the boiling soup. Mutton is the most popular meat choice, followed by beef, beef tripe, shrimp, fish fillet ...... For non meat stuff, Chinese cabbage, tofu, fensi, mushroom, seaweed ...... are all very popular. Since the meat is sliced paper thin, it only requires seconds to cook. It is the vegetable, tofu etc that require longer cooking time to get more flavor in. When cooked, dip them in the house special dipping sauce and enjoy.
After lunch we went home and talked more until my brother's 4:00 pm departure to the airport. It was a little sad to see him leaving in the taxi, not knowing when I would see him again.
Good thing my friend Fu called soon. Fu is one of the lucky Haigui (meaning immigrants return to China) I know. He got a Ph.D. degree in the U.S. and worked as Post Doc for two more years, before returning to our college in Beijing to be a teacher in 2003. Within months of his return, he was promoted to Full Professor, the youngest professor in the history of the school. Despite his busy schedule, Fu made an effort to see Dave and me, and had dinner with us at Yu Xin Restaurant, the most authentic Sichuan food I had in a very long time.
4. Yu Xin Restaurant, next to Chang An Theater. We waited ~30 minutes to get a table. It was Wednesday night.
5. Appetizer: Left - Beef stomach & tongue (夫妻肺片). Right - Spicy chicken (口水雞). Just one bite into the chicken, I was crying my eyes out. My tongue was on fire that I couldn't drink the hot tea any more, so I asked the waitress for some ice water. She said: "We don't have ice water, how about I give you some lukewarm water with some ice in it?" Years ago, when I first came to the U.S., I couldn't understand why people drink ice water? Now when I go back to China, I can't understand why people don't drink ice water. :)