One of the most notable differences between Chinese and Western cuisine is breakfast. When most westerners think of breakfast, images of toast, cereal, pastries, eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee come to mind. In China, breakfast is a whole different ball game. A major difference in Chinese cuisine is the lack of dairy. Milk, cheese, butter and yogurt are not staples in Chinese cuisine and often aren’t readily available in smaller markets and grocery stores. So many Western breakfast staples aren’t eaten often here. Chinese breakfast is usually savory and people don’t shy away from stronger flavors such as preserved eggs, pickles, and spicy oil to eat first thing in the morning. Many people go out for breakfast and grab a quick bite to eat on the way to work or school. Street vendors will open up early to sell their goods to passing commuters – always at a very cheap price!
Below I’ve listed some of the most common breakfast foods in our cities. This, however, is only a sampling of what options are out there – especially for the more adventurous eaters. So get your taste buds ready, and before you know it you will be a Chinese breakfast convert!
粥 Zhōu (Congee)
Zhōu (congee) is a popular breakfast dish, which can be eaten all over China, but especially in southern China. Usually made of rice, although there are variations made with cornmeal, millet, sorghum, etc., zhōu is similar to oatmeal or porridge. Zhōu, however, is not sweetened and instead of adding sugar or fruit as a topping, popular toppings include zhàcài (pickled vegetables), salted eggs, soy sauce, and bamboo shoots to name a few. Yóutiáo, (long, deep fried dough) is often served as an accompaniment to zhōu.
馒头 Mántou (Steamed Buns)
Another very popular breakfast food in China is mántou. The classic mántou is white and made from wheat flour, though they come in various shapes and forms. Fresh from the steamer, mántou are soft and pillowy, and make for a great breakfast or midday snack. In northern China, often times mántou will be served with a meal instead of rice, and grilled mántou are one of my favorite street barbecue items.
包子、饺子 Bāozi, Jiǎozi (Steamed Bao, Dumplings)
Dumplings are also a classic Chinese breakfast. Bāozi are large steamed dumplings you can eat straight out of your hand. They are usually filled with minced meat or vegetables, though some have sausage, egg and other goodies inside. Jiǎozi are smaller steamed or boiled dumplings you eat with chopsticks and dip into a vinegar and soy sauce mixture – and of course as much spice as you want.
煎饼 Jiānbǐng (Fried Pancake Wrap)
Jiān bǐng is a common breakfast food that is popular all over China. Similar to a French crepe, jiān bǐng are always made to order, and usually filled with egg, hoisin sauce, chili paste, scallions and báocuì (fried, crispy cracker).
肠粉 Chángfěn (Rice Noodle Roll)
Chángfěn is found in southern China – more specifically in the Guangdong province, and is definitely a staff favorite here in InternChina. For those lucky enough to be in Zhuhai, every morning you will walk past huge trays of steaming metal contraptions, with cooks churning out chángfěn faster than you can blink. Chángfěn is made from rice milk that is mixed with minced pork and egg, then steamed on large metal sheets. The resulting steamed rice noodle is then scraped onto a plate and covered in sweet soy sauce. Chángfěn may not sound appealing, and it definitely doesn’t win a beauty award, but is by far one of the best breakfast foods to be found in China! So if you’re coming to Zhuhai, make sure to give it a try.
And of course, no breakfast is complete without a cup of dòujiāng (豆浆), fresh warm soy milk, to go along with it!
An estimated 33% of the world’s population (give or take) use chopsticks on a daily basis. For the hungry first time user, guzzling down your meal with two small wooden sticks can be a real challenge. Chopsticks might seem tricky to master and somewhat unnecessary for those of us that grew up with a plastic knife and fork in hand, so why have they come to dominate the culinary habits of much of Asia?
Chopsticks are over 5000 years old, long sticks of bamboo were first used to retrieve morsels of food from cooking pots on the fire. Later on, evidence of chopsticks used as table utensils emerged as far back as 500-400 AD. It’s said the spread of popular chopstick use across China was down to population boom and fuel shortages; food was chopped into smaller pieces in an attempt to make the meagre rations go further (thus eliminating the need for knives at the table). Whatever the reason, people in Japan and Korea soon followed the trend not far behind!
The ultimate legend of Chinese culture Confucius (or debatably perhaps his disciple Mengzi) added his own two cents on the matter too, which always helps. Apparently a firm believer that “the honourable and upright man keeps well away from both slaughterhouse and kitchen, and allows no knives on his table.” 有名望的和正直的人要远离屠场和厨房。
FUN FACT: Did you know that Confucius was a vegetarian?
I’m not ashamed to admit that after 3 years in China, I am a total convert. Using chopsticks makes me appreciate my food more. Whatsmore, the sociable side to Chinese dinning, sharing and array of mouth-watering dishes, picking out tasty tit-bits from any dish at will, never gets old.
So here goes, top facts you should know about different types of chopsticks:
THE CHINESE CHOPSTICK
Typically unfinished wood, slightly rectangular top with a cylindrical blunt end. Doesn’t roll off the table so easily and more surface area means you’ve got a higher chance or transferring those tasty morsels all the way from the middle of the table right to your bowl!
FUN FACT: It’s a faux-pas to tap your chopsticks on the edge of your bowl, as this is what beggars do to attract attention.
THE JAPANESE CHOPSTICK
Traditionally lacquered wood or bamboo, with a rounded top and a pointy end that’s perfect for de-boning fish. They’re a little bit smaller than the Chinese equivalent and you often find red pairs for the ladies and black ones for the gents.
FUN FACT: Never stick your chopsticks vertically into your rice bowl, it’s reminiscent of incense sticks at a funeral.
THE KOREAN CHOPSTICK
The shortest model of the three, Korean chopsticks are usually stainless steel and flat or rectangular shaped. Potentially more hygienic but it definitely makes it harder to get a grip on your food!
FUN FACT: The king used pure silver chopsticks which would change colour if they came in contact with certain poisons. The people started using metal chopsticks to emulate him.
Anyway, hope this can inspire you to pick up a pair of chopsticks and come to China yourself. Even if you struggle to start with new chopstick inventions are coming up every day, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest ‘Chork’ on the market!
Hard plastic chairs which were made to urge the customers to eat fast,a simple setting that might attract only kids and bored teens. These are the characteristics of most McDonald branches in the West, but in China the McDonald’s experience is taking a big turn. Unlike the west, where McDonald’s is regarded as a cheap meal, in China, as there are much cheaper dining options, McDonald’s has attracted mostly middle-class customers. Moreover, as a symbol of American culture, in food, design and dining style, many Chinese enjoy sensing this western-American-‘modern’ ambiance and choose a McDonalds’ meal. This could be said about other fast-food chains as well, for example Pizza Hut.
Like KFC, the spine of its menu is built from the classics. Cheeseburgers, Fries. McNuggets. But come 5PM, when the special dinner options kick in, something happens. Let me introduce you to the “Beef Rice Bowl”.
McDonald’s launched rice dishes last summer as part of their China push, which has seen those open hundreds of restaurants in the country in the past three years. That the amount of these dishes available has dwindled in the short time since seems to indicate that maybe Chinese people aren’t looking for Chinese-style meals when they come to American-style food venues.
A unique feature of Chinese McDonald’s locations is the “McExpress” walk-up window, which sells a small range of drinks and ice cream desserts. Most McExpress windows are attached to restaurants, but in some cases, they can be physically independent, typically in locations such as shopping malls, department stores and subway stations. Most major urban locations offer delivery for an extra fee. Deliveries are usually made by electrically powered scooters, although in several cities where motorcycle bans are in place, a conventional courier bicycle is used. The food is normally carried in a large insulated backpack.
Some things you need to know about 麦当劳:
In China, Chicken McNuggets can come with the barbecue, sweet and sour, honey and hot mustard, or chili garlic sauce. Chinese menus also include crispy Buffalo chicken wings, called McWings. All chicken burgers offered in Chinese McDonald’s use thigh fillet (e.g., Premium Grilled Thigh Fillet Burger, Hot and Spicy Grilled Thigh Fillet Burger), rather than breast meat. The Big ‘n’ Tasty is sold as the Big ‘n’ Beefy in the Chinese market, and is topped with cheese, cucumber, and mildly spicy Thousand Island dressing. Pies come in two standard flavors: pineapple or taro, although special flavors including chocolate and banana have also been offered on a limited basis. There is also a seasonal “Chinese meals” available, including the Grilled Chicken Burger and curly fries, with a horoscope of the twelve zodiac animals of Chinese astrology and traditional red envelope.
Want to enjoy the tasty treats McDonald’s offers or prefer the Chinese local food – Apply here for a great internship and culinary adventure.
My colleague Gianna and our Chinese intern Anna organized a trip to Guangzhou last weekend. As we are pretty close to some nice and different cities here in Zhuhai, most of our interns were happy to join our trip. Finally a huge number (all in all 27 people) confirmed to join us for mysterious Mr. X. I started a bit earlier on Saturday to Guangzhou and took the first train at 07:00 a.m.! Driving with the train rather than taking the bus is more convenient to be honest. Even if the price is compared to taking the bus for students much higher it’s still a good deal.
Anna booked us in a nice Hotel in Yuexiu district that was close to some nice sightseeing spots. The interns visited the ChenJia Ci old temple and went for a good shopping experience to the Tianhe area, whereas I have already explored our hotel-area in the morning and found a huge jewellery-market. I spent almost the whole morning to shop some for some cloth in this area. I’m more interested in the typical small Chinese clothes shops in little streets in between the living compounds or at least close to such complexes. If you buy a one-day pass for the metro (the metro system is not bad in the third largest Chinese city), it is really convenient and fun just drive to random places and find out what will appear at daylight. So I did and I got off at cultural park and walked along the river side, drunk a coconut and enjoyed the hot but nice weather.
In the evening I met the other guys at the Teppanyaki restaurant and felt immediately again under friends and in my usual social environment, even if we had a bunch of new arrivals the last couple of days and most of them I have not met before.
It was a nice relaxing evening with interesting chats and a good atmosphere.
The highlight everyone was looking forward to was Mr. X (escape room) on our schedule for Sunday morning. As we were such a big group we booked 3 rooms. The guys who were already experienced, as they have done it in Shanghai (read more here) went for Level 4 out of 5. I joined the Level one group and luckily we made it and we could escape, even if we got some more time than the 60 minutes. This is a good experience and a nice way to build teams and enjoy a good excited time. The Level 4 group could also escape and both of our teams could made it on the “wall of fame”. Just the Level 2 group could not made it in in time, but all of us had fun and enjoyed a good morning there.
Afterwards I went together with Anna to the biggest and famous university in Guangdong province: Sun Yat-Sen University. They have a green and big campus there and we had a good morning there. We ate in the dining hall for lunch, which Anna reminded on her time in college.
As I wanted to see the Art Gallery we drove from the university direct to Yuangcun and then a couple of stations from there with the bus to this alternative place with art, nice little souvenir shops and a creative audience. We both had a nice and relaxed afternoon there. I even kissed another statue man 🙂
I then went to the water front village area, a bit far from down town. I suddenly felt like in another city. Moreover I felt like in a green area far from such a big Chinese town.
I have once again acquired valuable insights in Chinese cities and saw new beautiful places.
I am happy to share my experience and my travel routes with all of you guys and hope you also take this awesome chance to explore Chinese cities. Apply now!
In China, it is usual to see some folk artists producing sugar paintings with liquid sugar along the streets, in the parks, and touristic areas.
The artist sits before a wooden stand where there is a polished slab of marble in the middle. On the side of the stand is a bamboo arrow and a wooden plate painted with various patterns in a circle such as a 龙 (Chinese dragon), bird, dog, or a flower basket.
Children especially usually select a figure by spinning the arrow on a wheel which will randomly land on such popular figures as a dragon, fish, monkey, dog, bird, or flower basket.
Sugar painting is very different from normal painting and was originated from the Ming Dynasty when sugar animals and figures were made in molds as part of a sacrifice in religious rituals. In the Qing Dynasty, sugar painting gained more popularity. At that time, many people made a living by sugar painting, shouldering a carrying pole and setting up stalls in crowded streets, in front of theatres and busy public places.
There are two main categories: plane painting and solid painting. For the plane painting (which is the easier one), the painter uses the brown sugar or white sugar as the raw material, the bronze spoon and a shovel as the tool, and the slab of marble as the “paper”. To acquire liquid sugar, the artist has to cook the solid sugar in a pot before painting. Since the hot liquid sugar could freeze solid if it cools, the artist has to produce his work very quickly.
Using a small spoon to scoop the syrup which looks like silk and thread, the handi-craftsman concentrates his strength on the wrist and takes the spoon as a brush pen, rising and pausing strokes, up and down, left and right. Soon a sugar painting of an animal, flower or a bike is finished, and the painter separates the painting from the marble with a shovel, puts a bamboo slice on the painting or wraps it with a transparent plastic bag.
If you have a sweet tooth or an eye for art – apply now to enjoy the Chinese culture and everything it has to offer.
Last week, the Qingdao InternChina team went out for lunch together in the Marina city in Qingdao. We feasted on noodles, rice, eggplant, spicy soup and only 27RMB per person (3 Euros). Full after the delicious meal, we went to McDonald’s for an unnecessary ice cream. It got me thinking how much western food chains have adapted to the Chinese market –when did they arrive here and what do they do differently?Firstly, western fast foods are still on the increase and the 2014 statistic that McDonald’s opens eight new restaurants a week in China says it all. In fact it is quite scary. Actually the growth rate of fast food in China has been growing more than 6.5% every year since 2010 – Imagine how many chicken nuggets are being consumed every day in a population of one billion…
The first time I arrived in Qingdao, I was craving a good coffee to wake me up for work at InternChina and when my colleague Becky mentioned that there was Starbucks, I grasped the opportunity during my first week. In most western places in China you always see western faces. Many come first and foremost for the atmosphere and to use the Internet and just to relax. For me, although I love my cafes and Frappuccinos, since I have been year for almost two months it’s hard to justify the 30RMB (3.50 Euros) price tag when you are paying less for a main meal for lunch or dinner Nowadays I go to Lomoka (a Chinese coffee place) It has lovely pastries a third of the price and the coffee is still delicious. It is nice also to support a Chinese brand instead!
KFC in China is pretty much Chinese through and through and has been very successful over here. In fact it is the most successful international brand of fast food in China. I personally love the popcorn chicken here as it is a little bit spicy. You would also be pleasantly surprised that they also do delivery here – great news if you are lazy like me! The main reason that KFC has become so popular in China is because the firm has fully embraced the Chinese concept of the commercial-public space.
In contrast to KFC’s more adaptive approach, McDonald’s has long sought to change and adapt the Chinese food culture into something something more similar as the thousands of restaurants they have in Europe and the U.S.A . An earlier adopter into the Chinese market, over time McDonald’s has succeeded in making its mark as a representative American institution but is not as successful in KFC and it will almost be impossible to catch up with them. Yes you can buy a simple hamburgers there, but you can also by rice dishes, wraps with rice, and a bannana pie – instead on the apple pie we have in the UK. Similary you can have normal ice cream but green tea ice cream which is also very delicious. With KFC and McDonald’s the price of meals are a lot less expensive than back home. China ranks around 15th as the cheapest country on the Big Mac Index – so for a meal we are looking around 18RMB (2 Euros); Eat your heart out!
Papa John’s is also very popular here, and I personally really enjoy having pizza once in a while here. Whilst researching the whereabouts in Qingdao, I found a review from a westerner living here. They were obviously unimpressed with the Chinese changes of the ‘mayonnaise’ Some tourists get very disheartened by slight edits in taste to their favorite brands back home. Don’t let this put you off but – expect some slightly”Chinesified” changes to your big brands as they do need to cater to their market here in China.
In addition there is also so much more fast food places that we know commonly in Europe and North America – subway, Pizza Hut, Costa Coffee etc so when you come to visit China, have a look around. To conclude, the western fast food chain has made a massive impact on daily lives in China and is becoming more common place every day. As a foreigner visitor, it may be a comfort to know to your Big Mac and fries are waiting for you but it’s also refreshing that you can go and get some chicken feet from a supermarket 2 minutes away. I would recommend trying as much Chinese food and local dishes as possible, but if you are craving a burger or some sort of pizza sauce there is always something for you.
Want to try Chinese food or Green Tea Ice cream? Apply now to explore all the flavors of China in Zhuhai, Chengdu and Qingdao.
If you are interested in China, your friends may have asked you all kinds of strange questions but without fail the conversation always turns to “Do they eat dogs and cats?”.
The answer is: Eating dogs and cats is becoming unpopular.
Having the second largest economy and some of the most developed cities; in China people are starting to prefer to keep cats and dogs as pets. There may be some restaurants selling dog meat, but if you ask local Chinese people where to get dog meat, they may be surprised or offended.
The Chinese government and also several animal rights activists as well as animal rescue teams are trying to ban the dog meat festival held in China.
I’ve often heard about foreigners who were, so to say, pressured by their Chinese host family, coworkers or friends to eat a lot and to try lots of different dishes.
BUT what you need to know about Chinese culture is…
No matter how much they may be eager to accept food, drink or gifts, proper Chinese etiquette prevents them from doing anything that makes them appear greedy or overly eager to receive them, so if you should politely refuse a couple of times before taking it. The same goes for compliments.
The next step is to never drink alcohol without offering a toast! This not only shows your gratitude toward the host and your regard for the other guests, but it also prevents you from drinking too much too quickly. If someone toasts you with a Ganbei be sure to watch out, Chinese know how to put a foreigner under the table in no time.
Also don’t worry about accessing your favourite websites here in China, as you can always rely on a VPN to surf the net.
When you arrive at the airport in China, don’t be surprised because you won’t necessarily be the tallest person in the room. Chinese people are getting quite tall these days, due to diet and advances in nutrition.
And last but not least: Do you REALLY think every Chinese person do these sorts of Kung Fu moves?
Trust me, this kind of thing does not happen (often).
But I’m sure you will enjoy your stay in China as much as I am!!!
Apply now for an internship!
When you read this I might already be drowned by heavy rain or burned by scorching sunlight. The past few day’s weather in Zhuhai has been crazy!
“April, April, der macht was er will.”
This weekend – which was a long one thanks to the Chinese Qingming Holiday – is a good example of crazy weather. Starting with a sunny Friday morning, which really got our office in the holiday spirit, but then continued with clouds and mist. It was still quite warm though. After work we went for dinner, drinks and Go-Karting – it was the first time ever for me… I loved it!! 😀
Then we had an awesome Saturday with sunshine all day. As I had a visitor from Harbin, we went to a palace which is a replica of the summer palace in Beijing. We walked around in the park behind it and climbed a mountain to have a look over Zhuhai. From the peak we could also see Macau. Afterwards we went to the beach, grabbing a cold drink on our way. The day ended with a Korean BBQ, a walk on Barstreet and dancing in a club called Miu Miu. We have some quite descent dancers in our interns group!
As you can imagine, our Sunday started rather late. But it wasn’t too bad as it was raining. On our way to get some waffles and noodles for brunch, we had to negotiate our way around and over puddles. Sure the paper bag with our waffles inside got wet and ripped. Although we didn’t mind as I managed to save the waffles. Being back in the apartment we crawled underneath our blankets on the couch and watched a movie while enjoying our food. It was really cozy. ^.^
For dinner we met some interns at a Muslim restaurant, and then we went to their apartment for a relaxing bottle or two of Tsingtao and some baijiu! It was interesting to listen to some of the stories from our interns who have already been here for quite a long time. Most of them were quite tired from the weekend’s partying so far and some had to work the next day, so we didn’t stay up too late.
I was in a fortunate position as I had the Monday off. So after I hung up my freshly washed clothes above the balcony to dry and had breakfast; I took Li to my favorite place in Zhuhai: the underground market. Of course I couldn’t resist buying some clothes and perfume. Oh and the weather… it was dry and a little sunny in the morning. After we left the underground the rain started again. We hurried underneath a sushi stand were we enjoyed some tasty morsels whilst watching the rain pour down. Later in the evening it was dry again – unlike my clothes above the balcony…!!
We decided to the Factory (a bar in Huafa) were they had a ‘Happy Monday – Buy one, get one free’ offer. On our way there we stopped to see a water fountain show. Who needs Vegas?! As they make really good Pizzas in the Factory we ordered two and got four. Awesome! But I was sooo stuffed afterwards. We then had a fun round of darts together!
It was a great weekend.
See you and 再见，
Gianna aka Gini aka 吉娜