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In China and eating


jokhm
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Wow.. lot to chew on here. I will have to definitely look into the breads with cumin and mutton. That sounds too good to miss. About quanjude.. they have multiple locations and I wasn't aware that they had the quick and dirty dinning experience available to people like me.. so which location offers this? or do they all? mm duck

The only one to offer this dining option is the original location at Qianmen, a 5-10 minute walk southeast from Tianamen (I love Beijing because I actually know what is north, east, south, west by just thinking where I am in comparison to Tiananmen). You won't be able to miss it...I'm not sure how much it is off the plastic/styrofoam, but I know its cheaper than inside the main restaurant. I doubt it is a great bargain (I haven't been in awhile...when a friend visited recently, we went there, but decided the line was too long, having made the mistake of waiting to watch the flag lowering ceremony and then going), but it is a way to have a real QuanJuDe duck at a lower price.

Edited by chengb02 (log)
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$#%^&

I walked into three hotels in a row, no one has a clue where this Mr. Li restaurant is and the only phone number I found is out of service!! I'd love to go tonight, and I have a whole group waiting with their wallets. What to do?!

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I don't have the guidebook that listed the phone number, but try this from http://www.tastingmenu.com/restaurants/beijing/:

# Li Jia Cai (Li Family Restaurant)

11 Yangfang Hutong, Deshengmenwai Hutong, Beijing, +86 10 6618 0107

Particularly because it was Frommer's "50 Most Memorable Trips" guide to China that recommended this restaurant, I was shocked to find this on the overview of dining in Beijing on Frommer's website (www.frommers.com, and the direct link is http://www.frommers.com/destinations/beiji...01010028.html):

Imperial Restaurants--Elaborately presented but seldom appetizing, dishes cooked in Beijing's much-hyped imperial style are one of the city's biggest scams. Famous imperial restaurants Fangshan in Bei Hai Park and Li Jia Cai (Li Family Restaurant) in the Back Lakes area are both set in picturesque surroundings but charge far too much for bad food and are therefore not included in this guide. For a better dining experience in either location, pack a picnic. If you really want to drop a hundred bucks on camel paw and soup made from bird saliva, ask the concierge in your hotel to point the way.

Bad food? Biggest scams? For a better dining experience, pack a picnic? And they make Bird's Nest Soup, a prized delicacy in China and among overseas Chinese, sound not only disgusting but like something that would only be served among a menu of totally gross food. (Bird saliva it is; a sign of a lousy restaurant it isn't.) I've never seen the point of bird's nests and also abhor the theft of endangered species' nests (though let's please not get into a debate on that in this thread; let's start a new one if you want to do that), but just don't get the 600 RMB menu with the bird's nests! Frankly, I have to wonder whether someone who thinks the food in that restaurant is bad is nuts. :wacko::raz: Can a restaurant really be so inconsistent that they're unbelievable one time and lousy another, with the same cook? I might have considered the possibility that they have improved somehow, and done so too recently to have garnered positive mention in Frommer's Beijing, 3rd Edition, published December 15, 2003 (the source for the quote above), but Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, 3rd Edition, which highly recommended them, was published in July 28, 2003, so I suppose we have to chalk it up to the different authors (Graeme Smith, Josh Chin, and Peter Neville-Hadley for Frommer's Beijing and J. D. Brown for 50 Most Memorable). And if there's anything I've learned on eGullet, it's that no restaurant escapes without bad reviews from someone. You name it, every restaurant that's very often considered great has been panned by someone. And if there's one that hasn't been, in the future, some member will do so. And I'm not saying they'll be wrong, but it sure is hard for me to imagine a bad meal at the Li Family Restaurant.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'm surprised there wasn't mention of the 'disturbing practice involving eating the SKIN of the ducks' here. Strange coming from a publication targeting a region's food..

That's the second source I've seen now for that same number.. Not in service!! Strange no? Never thought it could be this hard to find a great restaurant. I have some friends out now near Tiananmen, maybe they'll have better luck at some of those hotels,,

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I have some friends out now near Tiananmen, maybe they'll have better luck at some of those hotels,,

Go to the hotels at Wangfujing, namely the Grand Hyatt (worth seeing anyways) in Dongfang Guangchang, the Beijing Hotel, or the Crowne Plaza just past the church (you could also go to where Pan stayed at the Novotel or the Peninsula Palace across the street), just to the right of XinDongAn, any of these hotels should be able to help you. While you are at the Grand Hyatt, contemplate dropping all that cash you have put together for the Li Family restaurant on a meal at the Grand Hyatt's Made in China.

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Interesting.. I'll take a look. The grand hyatt is that good? The building is definitely nice.

There's a tiny little xinjiang place right next to my hotel as well as a really large family resto that happens to have a good deal on some great beijing duck. I'm quite happy about this, as I can now shift back and forth between all the baozi along the street, 1rmb skewers of lamb with ..pita(?), and an excellent whole duck for 48rmb. Not bad.

Further down the street where I have found myself drinking tea on two occasions after midnight, the restaurant had some stands set across the street from the outdoor tables and behind the stands you could always hear dogs barking. Both times, a guy came down the street along with a really nice and well mannered large dog at which point a 5 minute exchange broke out between him and all the staff until the dog was carefully carried into the kitchen. Slightly strange after midnight no? Both times I was with some people from beijing who couldn't believe their eyes. For a while you could swear they were playing around with their own pet dog.. but no.

Anyway, going to stay away from the dog thing here. It's one thing if this is in northern vietnam or in/near guangdong.. I think.

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I'm quite happy about this, as I can now shift back and forth between all the baozi along the street, 1rmb skewers of lamb with ..pita(?), and an excellent whole duck for 48rmb. Not bad.

Anyway, going to stay away from the dog thing here. It's one thing if this is in northern vietnam or in/near guangdong.. I think.

hmm...I sort of don't want to go into this, but actually eating dog is probably more common in northern and northeast China than it is in Guangdong (at least that would be my guess). Dog is a very cheap meat and the Cantonese, while they eat everything, tend to go for the finer ingredients. I would like to blame the Koreans for the dog eating influence in the northeast, and while this has something to do with it, the origins of it are sketchy. I recall once before seeing a restaurant, on what at the time was the outskirts of Beijing, called "GouRou DaWang" (Dog Meat King) and wanting to check it out, at least take a picture...In the northeast, the most common way to find dog is in a dog meat soup, which is supposed to have many warming qualities to it. In the poorer provinces (Guizhou, Gansu) it is more common to find a dog meat hot pot.

The 48 rmb duck is what I'm talking about, to me, Beijing Duck is a good meal, but nothing overly spectacular, the touristy places will add some things or do the presentation at the table which some cheaper places might not do, but at the end of the day, the quality and taste ofthe duck is usually similar.

The Grand Hyatt's Made in China is a fabulous restaurant, great interior and common Beijing/Northern/Northeastern foods. I went to treat myself for my birthday, had 3 dishes and it came out to 250 RMB or so...It was a lot, but I would still go back every now and then...

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hmm...I sort of don't want to go into this, but actually eating dog is probably more common in northern and northeast China than it is in Guangdong (at least that would be my guess).

I think you are right about that, and about the Korean influence.

I recall one Shanghai Restaurant (Grape?) frequented by expats and with a bi-lingual menu that listed dog. I wonder how often you'll find it on an English menu.

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I think you are right about that, and about the Korean influence.

I agree.

I'm ABC Cantonese, and I don't remember dog being mentioned as a food item except once, and that was just talk.

The first and only time I've eaten dog was at a Korean restaurant on Bei Da campus, in 1997.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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I'm right off of You an men road and taiping

Below taoranting park

nice little area, within short distance (Very relatively) from the city center.

I see that park on my map. The first time I was in Beijing, I stayed in Longtan Binguan near Longtan Park (nice park, I thought at the time, which was 1987, and the 10 RMB price for a shared double room at that hotel was the biggest bargain of my whole trip). In those days, that felt like the southeastern outskirts of the city. It seems like you're roughly the same distance south, though further west, but the city and indeed many suburbs are so much more built up now. But anyway, I don't really know the neighborhood you're staying in.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Yeah I am fairly far south, but not much more than a 30-40 minute walk to tiananmen. Though, I am considering moving into an apartment in the north west end of the city. Would cost me about 800 for the month to share with two other guys, and this would probably be the best bet for learning the language fast. It's too bad that I have to do this here though, I'd love to spend a month eating through Chengdu instead. I find the food far more exciting there. Oh well.

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Hi Joel

Am living vicariously through your posts here and on your site. Pictures of the food please :biggrin:.

The Chinese in Malaysia (and we're almost all Southern Chinese) used to eat dog here too ... once upon a time ...and preferably black dogs. They used to sell them in the Petaling Street market in KL. This is not very nice but there's a saying that the Cantonese eat everything with their backs facing the sky, with the exception of hunchbacks! :shock:

Shiewie

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Ahh, good to hear you are still tuning in Shewie!

heh.. that's an interesting saying.. I'll throw it around here in these parts to see what effect it has.

I'm still in Beijing... In fact I have continued posting stuff again, at least text. And soon enough I will begin with more photos since leaving HK. I promise to make sure every food picture makes it up. I just forget/don't bother with my camera these days. Damnit.. I need some duck photos. That, and I am highly satisfied with the food in Beijing, but it doesn't amaze me like it did in Chengdu or in Nanning... I have so much to see, and this is a problem.

I am supposed to return November 4th to Montreal, with my visa ending on November 15th. But for the longest time I had the idea of spending 4 months here in my head, which would entail leaving sometime in December, and a one month visa extension - also not guaranteed. Couple this with the fact that I am figuratively 'stuck' in beijing now, not much time left for traveling and seeing all these places that I hoped to get to.

I have struck the finest deal with my hotel, in that all I do is stay here and teach them some very basic english and in return they only speak to me in chinese and spend all their time teaching me. All I have to do is spend a reduced rate on the bed in my empty 3 person dorm room. Hah

So, the problem now is.. When do I leave?? When my chinese is good enough?? When is that?? I'm slated to remain in this room until sometime in October. Too long? Am I missing out? I think the idea that I'm spending this time on the language entails.. or requires me to return sometime in the very near future. Perhaps then I will continue all this traveling?

So.. the question then becomes.. where do I go if I haven't seen much of china at all, only with one month or slightly more.. and not wanting to 'move around' too much or see 'sites'..

I'm tired. I want to eat. That's pretty much it.

Xi'an is high up on my list, having met quite a few people living there. As is Shanghai, since it seems like the wrong place to skip. .. anything else?

Dalian.... good seafood eh..?? hmmmm seafood. That's heavily lacking in my diet right now. Beijing.. heh.

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You can make train trips to Datong &/or Chengdu. Not known for any particular food, (except lamb) that I can remember, but certainly worth seeing for their very interesting historical places.

My food log from those places were varied and good. I clearly remember Deep Fried Fat Chunks!! Cubes of fat that were fried! Also I see I had Meatballs braised with 5-Spice flavor, a couple of times.

Edited by jo-mel (log)
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to return sometime in the very near future. Perhaps then I will continue all this traveling?

So.. the question then becomes.. where do I go if I haven't seen much of china at all, only with one month or slightly more.. and not wanting to 'move around' too much or see 'sites'..

I'm tired. I want to eat. That's pretty much it.

Xi'an is high up on my list, having met quite a few people living there. As is Shanghai, since it seems like the wrong place to skip. .. anything else?

Dalian.... good seafood eh..?? hmmmm seafood. That's heavily lacking in my diet right now. Beijing.. heh.

I don't think they offer short visa extensions, but basically just a whole new visa, and if you have a tourist visa, then it should be pretty easy to extend. The main place to go is the PSB branch just east of YongHeGong (Lama Temple). The problem will be that you won't be able to travel because they need your passport for the week. No matter what, don't skip Shanghai, I don't like it very much, but it is something that everyone visiting China can't miss seeing. Plus, they will have some pretty good seafood offerings. If you are looking for seafood in BJ, have you tried Xi Hai Yu Pian in the Hou Hai area? Excellent place. Hehe, it seems you have interesting plans, but your post was a bit confusing, if you can clarify what you are looking for, perhaps I can offer more suggestions.

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No matter what, don't skip Shanghai, I don't like it very much, but it is something that everyone visiting China can't miss seeing.

Really? Because to me, Shanghai is just another international city.

Like Paris, New York, etc. Just the language is changed.

I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad place, but if you're in Beijing and want to check stuff out, I wouldn't make visiting Shanghai a priority.

Go to the Shaolin temple if you like, near Zhengzhou.

Everything that would be interesting to me is semi-far from you, in the south or west.

How about Harbin? Actually, it looks like the Ice Festival doesn't start until January so you'll miss that, and that is something I've always wanted to see.

China's only ski resort that I know of is there. You could do that.

My impression of Dalian was that it was just another large/mid-sized city until industrialization and modernization started a few decades ago, and there isn't really anything special there.

My impression may also be wrong.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Really?  Because to me, Shanghai is just another international city.

Like Paris, New York, etc.  Just the language is changed. 

Go to the Shaolin temple if you like, near Zhengzhou.

How about Harbin? Actually, it looks like the Ice Festival doesn't start until January so you'll miss that, and that is something I've always wanted to see.

China's only ski resort that I know of is there.  You could do that.

My impression of Dalian was that it was just another large/mid-sized city until industrialization and modernization started a few decades ago, and there isn't really anything special there. 

Shanghai is a very international city, but it is quickly becoming the center of Asia, if it isn't already and is an important city to visit, to witness, just like if somebody was coming to the US, I would advise them that they should go and just see NYC. Plus, Shanghai offers a nice jumping off point to a number of popular destinations (though from his original post, it doesn't look like there is much interest in seeing things).

I went to the Shaolin Temple this summer, it was a very regrettable trip, really nothing worth seeing, it left me very disappointed. Zhengzhou is an altogether forgettable city in itself and Kaifang (which is nearby) doesn't have much to offer, but xiao long bao, which Shanghai does better.

Harbin and Dalian are both decent suggestions, but again, I am not sure what exactly jokhm is looking for...I would advise Qingdao as a great destination for many of the same things you would go to Dalian for...

If jokhm is just looking to stay in one place, it seems Beijing would be the place to stay, there is more than enough great food to be had in the city and perhaps as your Chinese improves, you will be able to order better.

Edited by chengb02 (log)
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Shanghai is a very international city, but it is quickly becoming the center of Asia, if it isn't already and is an important city to visit, to witness, just like if somebody was coming to the US, I would advise them that they should go and just see NYC. Plus, Shanghai offers a nice jumping off point to a number of popular destinations (though from his original post, it doesn't look like there is much interest in seeing things).

I suppose. My thinking was more along the lines of:

If it was my first time to China, and I only had a relatively short amount of time, I'd visit Shanghai. In other words, sort of like a visiting / touring China 101.

He's past that. He's somewhere in upper level undergraduate courses.

He's already been to a few parts of China and still has plenty of time. I would say he'd enjoy other parts more.

I went to the Shaolin Temple this summer, it was a very regrettable trip, really nothing worth seeing, it left me very disappointed. Zhengzhou is an altogether forgettable city in itself and Kaifang (which is nearby) doesn't have much to offer, but xiao long bao, which Shanghai does better.

I've never to Shaolin, but I would say that's the only reason for going to that area. I agree that Zhengzhou and Kaifeng don't really do much.

Harbin and Dalian are both decent suggestions, but again, I am not sure what exactly jokhm is looking for...I would advise Qingdao as a great destination for many of the same things you would go to Dalian for...

I forgot about Qingdao and the Shantung peninsula.

Also, How much of the Yangtze can you sail on now, if any?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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herbacidal:

to me, Shanghai is just another international city.

Like Paris, New York, etc.

I've been to Shanghai twice (1987 and this past August) and liked it both times, though it was almost completely different the 2nd time. It's an exciting, fast-paced city with a vibrant, futuristic, science-fictiony skyline that reminded me somewhat of Kuala Lumpur but much more so, with a big river to boot. International city? You bet your bottom dollar! It's a cosmopolitan, outward-looking city, as a major port city normally is, but it sure is odd to put New York and Paris in the same sentence with an implication that they are somehow generic. They aren't, and neither is Shanghai, though you can go to a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant while you're there, if you really want to (I sure didn't!). One caveat, though: One of the reasons the view from the top of the Weston Hotel is so good is that it's one of the only places in Shanghai where you can't see that stupid building! Hey, every big city has to have some dumb big building, I guess. :laugh::raz:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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This will not help at all (I'm searching desperately for the details/trying to track down my friend) but if you are looking for seafood, there are a few unbelievable places out in Shunyi. I will get the name and address soon (hopefully), but it will require hiring a car for the day. An hour or so outside the city to the northeast, there are a few fish farms that also serve as restaurants in the summer (many of them have the option of you catching your own fish if you want). I remembered at the one I went to, we had a number of excellent fish dishes, but the ones that have stuck in my head was the sashimi dish, the freshest I have ever had, and a grilled fish dish where they used the same spices as on yangrou chuanr, unbelievably good. A lot of times companies use these places for field trips (and there probably will be a lot of those as we get closer to the holiday). By the way, not sure if you know, but you are on the verge of seeing BJ taken over by tourists from every corner of the country (10/1 is national day and is a week long holiday, BJ and SH take the biggest hits). My advise, like most Beijingers do, lock yourself in your room for the week (or alternatively go off to Inner Mongolia, Beidaihe, or Qingdao).

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herbacidal:

One caveat, though: One of the reasons the view from the top of the Weston Hotel is so good is that it's one of the only places in Shanghai where you can't see that stupid building! Hey, every big city has to have some dumb big building, I guess.  :laugh:  :raz:

Shanghai has plenty of ugly new buildings, but you are right about the Westin being the dumbest-looking of them all. Shanghai's love for buldings with post-modern "hats" is over the top, but the designer of the Westin Shanghai (I call it the "Jughead" building) took his inspiration straight out of "Archie and Veronica."

Westin Shanghai and its Hat

Jughead and His Hat

[Edited to add Jughead's Hat]

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
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