Delicious local breakfast option in Beijing -- Jianbing!
In Beijing I stayed in a hotel in Dongsishitiao, a very convenient location to get to Sanlitun, and to Dongzhimen one subway stop away (or a 20 minute walk).
The woman who helped me checking into the hotel asked if I wanted breakfast in the hotel -- which would cost over 100 kuai. I said no, because I knew there were other cheaper options nearby.
Last time I stayed at this hotel I bought food next door at Starbucks, but this time I decided to go local.
Behind Poly Theater there is a small street with lots of small shops. One of them sells jianbing.
There are carbs for sure, but protein and vegetables too!
For the uninitiated, jianbing is a large savoury pancake that is folded like a square sandwich.
Every morning I would watch the woman make it. She put some batter on a large black round hotplate and then use a wooden tool to smooth it out. Then she cracked an egg on it, and then used the tool again to break the yolk and spread it over the crepe. After that was done she would sprinkle black sesame on top.
By this time the crepe is done on one side, and she deftly uses a scraper around the bottom to loosen it and then flips it over by holding onto it with her thumbs and the scrapers.
Then she adds a dark brown sauce I believe is similar to the ones used for Peking duck and spreads it all over the cooked side of the crepe. She asks if I want chilli sauce and I decline, and she continues by adding pickled and slightly spicy vegetables, raw chopped onions and coriander.
To finish she adds a rectangular piece of puffed cracker in the middle and then folds the crepe on two sides, then makes a crease with the scraper on each of the long ends of the cracker so that it can now fold into a square, and folds the rest of the crepe.
It's put into a waxy paper envelope and then into a plastic bag.
The flavour is definitely umami, with a touch of spiciness and crunch from the vegetables and the cracker. So good.
And only for 6 kuai!
I told my expat friend how much I paid for it and she said that it was about average, though she added some places charge as much as 15 kuai, which she thought was a rip-off.
I remember them being about 3 kuai a few years ago, but that's inflation for you.
Nevertheless it's still a bargain and I was able to eat a late lunch without feeling hungry in between!