I’m proud to say that my last meal of 2013 was around 300RMB ($49.13) and my first meal of 2014 was 11RMB ($1.80).
The beauty of living in China is that you can do it as cheap or as expensive as you want.
After a luxurious Japanese dinner with sushi, sashimi, sake and Asahi, we needed something to get rid of our nasty hangovers. Nothing better than some freshly made baozi, aka steamed, stuffed buns.
Baozi is the ultimate staple when it comes to Chinese breakfast with thousands of years of history. You can find baozi anywhere, ranging from places like a 7-11 and even to the Shangri La. They vary in size, from big buns to small buns with endless fillings.
Although this common breakfast food can be quickly purchased anywhere, you honestly don’t want to eat it from just anywhere. You need to find a place that specializes in the art of making a fluffy and fresh exterior, not doughy or tough. The only time your baozi should be crisp is when it’s barbecued, like when I had my feast on a stick.
If ever there was a hole in the wall, this place is it. Actually, it’s not even a hole in the wall, it’s just a little old shack that probably started using electricity within the last five years. Oddly enough, I’m not even joking about that.
How Is Baozi Made?
The baozi steaming process is not done on a stove-top. You can see stacks of metal tins on top of a coal furnace.
The whole process is done pretty quickly and it’s all by hand. The wife of the shop owner will have a giant metal pot, similar to my grandmas tamale pot, filled with dough made the night before. The dough sits out next to the station where the daughter and wife will be churning out baozi like hot cakes. Once a metal or wooden tray is filled with about two dozen baozi, the husband brings it outside to be stacked on to the furnace, with around 10 minutes steaming time, give or take.
We ordered about eight ground pork and onion stuff bāo zi. These are cute little buns that are basically finger foods. Our hangover appetites took over and we ordered another plate, in addition to a couple of their giant vegetable, egg, and glass noodle stuffed bāo zi.
The owners saw how much we were enjoying the food, so they offered us some freshly made soy milk. Yes, the Chinese drink their soy milk hot.
If you’ve been reading through my previous blogs, you know that the Chinese need vinegar for their dumplings like Americans need ketchup for their french fries. Add some chili paste to your vinegar and start dunking.
Hey look! It’s me! Never happy unless my mouth is stuffed with good food.
This is a tiny place with a lot of love put into the food. There’s only four tables all with old metal stools. While we didn’t have much elbow room, it didn’t matter. 11RMB for bellies full of love and an awesome start to the new year.