Sake Gumi
All of my food experiences during my two-night stay in Beijing taught me one thing: the faster the food the better the experience. By the end of my stay, I would choose a place by spying on the doorway of a restaurant for a few minutes, making sure that people were constantly shuffling in and out. In the instances that I did this pre-screening process, I definitely felt I succeeded in finding a place that fulfilled the needs of my tastebuds.

Case 1:

I flew into Beijing at 12:30pm and arrived at my hotel at 2:00pm on a Monday. Determined to explore the city without resting, I set out on foot with a map of Beijing, in Chinese. My destination was Tiananman Square. I neglected to note the scale of the map and never reached Tiananman that day. Sore, famished and frustrated, I decided to find a place near my hotel which was located next to the Beijing Railway Station. A narrow fast-food joint caught my eye, with its sesame bun sandwiches and fried goods seducing me pressed up against the glass cases facing the street.

As soon as I stepped foot into the restaurant, anxiety welled up inside of me. About five patrons piled up after me shouting their orders. I knew I had no choice but to dive into the chaos. I gave them my best mime performance. Luckily the mother-daughter team behind the counter were very understanding and put up with my pointing and gestering. I ordered a spicy rice noodle dish and a bun sandwhich with mystery meat. The noodles were elegantly spicy, tinged with Chinese pepper and lots of cilantro. These cold noodles were just the right medicine for my achey muscles. The wide noodles were slippery and not over-cooked with each strand evenly coated with flavor. I especially enjoyed the fact that the tofu and veggies were all cut up into bits so that with every bite, I experienced a flavor explosion.

Cold Spicy Rice Noodles, Sesame Bun Sandwich and Tea

Sesame Bun Sandwich

Cold Spicy Rice Noodles

This meal cost me 8 yuan (1.17 USD) total.

Located across the street from Beijing Railway Station on Beijingzhou East Street between KFC and Jingyufa Bookstore.

Case 2:

My last meal in Beijing was breakfast on a Wednesday morning at 8:30 A.M. I knew I wanted either noodles or porridge. I also knew that I wanted to eat at a restaurant facing east so that the morning sun would be shining in. I contemplated a couple places before settling on a restaurant run by a husband and wife team. The two were shuffling in and out of the front doorway to fetch the yutao (fried dough) and dumplings which were fried and steamed on the sidewalk. Turnover was so rapid that patrons ordered before they sat down at their seats. I tried to mimick them by pointing to the vats of steel drums. I realized the contents of the steel drums were different so I rushed and defaulted to the options closest to me: porridge.

I sat down with my porridge and had three spoonfuls. It didn´t taste like anything so I looked around. When all else fails, copy. I noticed everyone had a basket of yutao. So I ordered yutao. Sensing that I had no idea what I was doing, the husband owner plopped a fresh meat dumpling into my basket. Quickly thereafter, the communal pickle bowl was frisbeed onto my table by the wife owner. I glanced to my side where a young man of 30-ish took some pickles from the bowl that was now sitting on my table and dunked the pickles and yutao into his porridge. I did the same and it was amazingly delicious.

Yutao on the sidewalk

Meat dumplings on the sidewalk

Meat dumpling

My whole meal, consisting of yutao, dumplings and porridge with pickles.

Communal pickle bowl

This meal cost me 5 yuan (0.73 USD) total.

Located across the street from Beijing Railway Station. Exit Beijing Railway station and turn right. At first traffic light (after Jingyufa Bookstore). Walk approximate 50 meters and restaurant is on the left.


  • Maybe I´d had been working in Ginza too long but I didn´t really notice the air quality. Also, I sensed they did A LOT of quality control after the Olympics. Did you go before the Olympics? All the public transportation was new and my hotel for about 35 USD per night seems like it went a rush-remodel job just about a year ago…

    yoko on

  • oh, Beijing, oh so dirty Beijing, and oh so sad to Mandarin Oriental.. How’s the air? No matter how great food was, the only thing I could think about in Beijing was air quality…

    Yamahomo on

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