Maybe you thought all there was to order from street-side vendors in Beijing were the oddities, like the scorpions and starfish at Wangfujing snack street. Thankfully, you would be wrong; there’s a world of delicious street snacks to be found in Beijing (and other cities in China,) that you shouldn’t wait to explore!
Summer interns, Hannah, Olivia, Shirley and Kamilla, give you the scoop on eight must-try street snacks in Beijing. These foods will always be one of our favorite memories, and something we will definitely miss after returning home. They’re cheap, found in almost every corner of the city, and satisfy every kind of craving. Read on below and don’t be surprised if your stomach starts growling.
1. Lao Beijing Suannai (老北京酸奶)
Translated as Old-style Beijing Yogurt, these little glass jars are a common sight on Beijing streets. While it tastes pretty similar to Western yogurts, it differs in the way it is made. Suannai is made fresh daily by heating milk, sugar, and a mixture of nuts, raisins, and rice wine before being sent out all over town to be sold fresh. It is intended to be consumed immediately, and the container returned to the vendor to be reused.
2. Bing Tanghulu (冰糖葫芦)
Traditionally, tanghulu is made by putting hawthorns on a stick and dipping them in sugar syrup. The sugary shell resembles ice, giving it’s name “iced candied hawthorn.” Small sour fruits, hawthorns bring a contrast to the sweet coating. Other fruits are often candied to make tanghulu, such as strawberries, mandarin oranges, and pineapples.
3. Chuan’r (串儿)
These thin skewers of meat and sometimes veggies are probably the most widely available snack food in Beijing. Although it receives praise from foreigners for being an amazing midnight snack, many locals enjoy this food regularly. This snack is typically spiced with a combination of cumin, sesame, and pepper flakes and then cooked on make-shift grills on the side of the street or in small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
4. Youtiao (油条)
Youtiao is a Chinese spin on doughnuts: this snack is a long, twisted fried dough that is usually enjoyed with a cup of hot soy milk. Unlike doughnuts though, sugar is an opt-in feature. Chinese McDonald’s branches have adopted this as local food and sell it alongside breakfast sandwiches.
5. Baozi (包子)
6. Jianbing (煎饼)
7. Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍)
Also known as a Chinese Hamburger, Roujiamo is stewed meat stuffed in a pita bun. The flavors of your roujiamo will depend on the vendor, as each use their own spiced mix, drizzle and preparation styles. Most commonly the meat is stewed with spices such as chili, cumin, and mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper.