(This picture was not taken on our first day in China but wow look at us visiting the Great Wall!)
Our first meal in China was HOT! Not hot like spicy, hot like it was 98 degrees and humid in Shen Zhen and we were doing our best to cruise Dongman Market without melting. Shen Zhen is located in mainland China right above Hong Kong. In the summer it is blazing hot and more humid than anywhere else I have ever experienced, between episodic passing thunder showers. You can find almost anything in Dongman Market, from electronics to knockoff Louis Vuitton bags, and there are department stores with 10 maze-like floors of tiny stalls of goods for sale. There are food stands galore, and our first major revelation about eating in China quickly became apparent. This was that there are almost always pictures of the food, or the actual food right there, that you can point to if you do not speak Chinese and you would like to order. This was our first glimpse into what an exciting and engaging adventure Chinese food would turn out to be during our experience there this summer!
Due to a language-based miscommunication, wherein our host though we were ordering our food to go and we were shuffled out of the small but busy store front to make room for others in line, we sat and ate our crystal chicken with white eggplant on a bench in the hot sun. From the picture it doesn’t look like much, but it was actually quite yummy and spiced with leek, pepper and clove flavors. I promptly decided thereafter that if there was one thing worth buying at this market, it would be an umbrella to protect me from the hot sun just like the locals were doing. Turned out to be a great idea for the intense upcoming sun and rain conditions in the days ahead!
Back to our first impressions of food in China. Shen Zhen and the Guangdong province area are a big melting pot for people from all over China, as there is opportunity there for jobs. We never had a bad meal in our 5 days there, and even breakfast was a celebration of different tastes and textures to try. One morning Brandon went out from our hotel, spent about $4 USD, and came back 10 minutes later with this smorgasbord of joy for us.
Several Bao, fried glutinous cakes, baked purple potato, fried dough, and scallion pancakes. Plus this cheerful to go cup of hot soy milk, which I came to learn tastes much better when freshly made, and Chinese people drink it both hot in the morning and cold with lunch and dinner.
My favorite new drink was introduced to me by our friend in Dongguan, and it is an herbal iced tea called JDB. It’s the most refreshing beverage on a sweltering day! I promise that I am not being paid to hawk this product, I just love it this much!
We ate dinner twice at the Cantonese restaurant Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao at KK mall, which was conveniently located across the street from our hotel. We are super adventurous travelers, so trust me when I tell you it was too hot to go much further than that after a day of running around the city! Plus, we loved Crystal Jade! This is some of what we ate there:
Fluffy bao with pork and spicy peanut soup (below).
Fried rice with vegetables, pine nuts and scallions.
Plus this smoked pigeon, which had a very unique, pungent hickory taste.
Next week we will continue to share our adventure through China, and all of the wonderful ways that we got to experience the culture and food of the people who live there! We hope you are enjoying your summer and eating well, too