As is often the case during the transition of relocating abroad, one of the most daunting factors within this process can be the change in diet. Coming towards the end of my second month here in Chengdu and third year collectively in China I can safely say that it is indeed that little bit of comfort in the form of a meal that offers that much needed taste of home. Therefore, as a self-confessed ‘foodie’ to make life a little easier I am going to layout where I feel are the best places to go, how to get there and how they compare in terms of price and quality:
Peter’s Tex Mex
Although this is possibly the oldest and one of the most well-known western food chains in Chengdu as well as Beijing, do not be fooled by the fact that there are several locations across the city. This was in fact the first place I visited for a western meal and I can honestly say that I left needing to be carried home bearing a full smile which is a rarity. From nachos, to pizza, to Mexican food and even all things sweet I was very impressed with the quality and variety of food here which came to roughly 400 RMB between me and a friend allowing us to have a nice banquet. If you are keen on a tipple, there are also some western lagers and the freshly made margaritas pack a real punch!
12 East Tongzilin Rd/桐梓林东路12号
To say these burgers are good is an understatement. Out of my three years in China, the burger selection is definitely one of the best I have ever had. Redbeard (an American expat) sources high quality ingredients (Aussie beef namely) for his seriously decadent menu that plates up everything from gargantuan buffalo burgers to classic beef delights layered in different kinds of cheese. He also offers seriously decadent smothered fries and you can wash them down with craft beers.
I find it hard to pick a favourite (although the ‘mutton chops’ comes close) and I’ve tried a fair few. The burgers are definitely on the pricy side but you really know where your money goes – servings are huge and quality is outstanding. They are also now available for delivery !
29 Zijing Donglu, Chengdu/成都紫荆东路29号
Although this is quite a popular chain across China, I feel that avocado and brunch is continuing to prosper amongst us and it is on that basis that Wagas deserves a try as well as the reasonable prices. To put it simply, the elegance and nostalgia associated with a poached egg done properly when thousands of miles away from home really is a welcomed luxury over here, especially when factored in with the ‘lighter’ choices including kale, feta, and so on for the more health conscious.
Located in the scenic area of TaiKoo Li, Wagas offers the chance to sit back, relax and take in the wonderful surroundings with the outside seating area and a wide selection of juices to compliment it !
TaiKoo Li Chengdu, L1/ 1345 中纱帽街8号成都远洋太古里L1 – 1345
Mike’s Pizza Kitchen
No matter where you are from and where you may be in the world, I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of us all speak the language of ‘pizza’ due to the liberty of adding your own personal touch. At Mike’s, not only do you get the option of base, toppings, sauce and so on but every single element is of the highest quality.
The quality is in fact so good that you will be unable to eat here without a prior reservation and can only order delivery at an allocated time relative to your location. Nevertheless, when in Chengdu if you’re talking pizza then you must be talking Mike’s because I am yet to have tried one as good in the UK, let alone China.
4 Tongzilin Lu Ste. 7/桐梓林路4号附7号 – Just look for the Big, Blue “M”
“From the Heart of Tuscany to the tastebuds of Chengdu” is a perfect fit for the motto of this wonderful restaurant as you are taken on a culinary journey from the southwest to the more hills of Tuscany. This is nicely complimented by an array of stunning Italian wines that also reside there in the form of Bucciano’s own “The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne” brand.
As I’m sure you can imagine, although the choice of food and wine is endless rest assured that the majority of dishes are served with a generous lashing of Tuscany’s finest extra virgin olive oil coupled with traditional bread and vegetables to tick you over while you take in the ambience. From pizza to pasta, meat or seafood- you will not be disappointed !
314 Block 3, Building B, Poly Center, 1 Jinxiu Road, Wuhou District ( Near to the Ping’an Bank, Yulin, North Kehua Road)/ 锦绣路1号保利中心B座3楼314室(玉林、桐梓林、科华北路、武侯区、平安银行附近)
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If your considering spending some time living in China -be it for an internship, permanent employment, for a semester abroad or just for a holiday- you will want to know what kind of food you can expect to buy and prepare in China. You might have heard some stories before of how difficult it can be to find Western food that is “original” and which has not been adapted too much to Chinese taste buds. Indeed, Chinese people like Chinese food and if you live in a smaller city or town it might not be easy or it can even be impossible to eat the food that you know from home. However, you will be in China, food is delicious, nutritious and various here. If you want to know more about Chinese Cuisine check our blogs about the Sichuan Cuisine or the delicacies of Qingdao.
After more than three years in China and trying numerous “Western” restaurants here, I also can understand if you want to cook at home and prepare dishes that you know from your home-country to ensure it has an original taste.
There is a lot of foreign owned and Chinese supermarkets and shops, where you can buy imported goods or Chinese goods which please the Western palate:
- Carrefour: Is a French chain which you can find in almost all cities in China. They have an “imported goods” section for preserved (pasta, baking goods, olive oil) and fresh products (cut meat, dairy products).
- Ito Yokado: Japanese Chain in Chengdu with plenty of imported goods, offering great sushi and sashimi
- Jusco: Japanese owned supermarket chain in Qingdao and Zhuhai offering a good variety of imported goods (pasta, bread, sweets, sauces, Olive oil etc).
- Sabrina’s Country Store: Chain store in Chengdu with several locations. Speciality: they offer a wider variety of baking ingredients, herbs and frozen bagels imported from the US. They also offer American beverages and sodas such as Dr. Pepper. You also can buy cleaning and household products here (e.g. washing powder for allergy sufferers).
- MYKAL: Half Japanese – half Chinese owned department store including a super-market in Qingdao. The imported goods are not offered in a special section so you need to find them like hidden gems within all the Chinese products. Take your time and have a look through all shelves, there might be a few little things that you didn’t expect to find in China!
- Hisense Plaza: High-end shopping mall including a super-market offering a great variety of fresh meat, fish and cheese. Best place in Qingdao to buy your sushi fish. They also have a German bakery.
- Metro: German whole-sale market in Qingdao and Chengdu with lots of imported goods – however be aware that prices are not always cheaper than in other super markets. About half of the products are from China! You also need a customer card.
- Ikea Shop: Ikea in Chengdu has a little shop selling Swedish goods such as (frozen) salmon, Swedish meatballs, Swedish beers and refreshing beverages.
- Zhuhai Deli: This popular shop in Zhuhai sells snacks, cheese, sausage, and bread.
- Trip to Macau: If you live in Zhuhai, you can buy imported goods like olive oil much cheaper when you hop over the border to Macau.
There are plenty of other little shops in Zhuhai, Qingdao and Chengdu selling high-end delicacy products imported from abroad. Nowadays, it is not a problem anymore to purchase a great bottle of wine for a fair price in China.
Your favourite international dishes…home-made!
As I really enjoy cooking dishes from different countries, I can give you some tips for dishes which are easy to prepare if you have your own kitchen or in case you want to cook for your host-family:
- German: Potato salad, potato soup, fried potatoes, schnitzel, fried sausages and meatballs are all dishes that you can make very easily… Potatoes are treated as vegetables in China, so you cannot buy them in big bags – I would recommend to buy them in a little shop near your apartment or order them from an organic farm. For schnitzel you need breadcrumbs, which are difficult to find – you can use either Panko (Japanese rice crumbs) or Cornflakes as an alternative. Meatballs always go down well, you can find all ingredients easily. For bakers: You can get all ingredients to make a traditional German apple pie!
- British: British food might be more difficult to prepare as in Chinese kitchens you traditionally don’t find an oven. Alternatively you can prepare steaks, beef in China is comparatively cheap. For an English breakfast, you can purchase almost everything – only for bacon you need to find substitutes. It might be worth to purchase a little oven (ca. 400-800 RMB) if you are a fan of pies and roast dinner.
- French: You are lucky! Carrefour offers you a great variety of products that you know from home. But I haven’t found a really good French baguette yet. Pain au chocolat and croissants is also not easy to find. You might have to look in Japanese bakeries to find these goods.
- Italian: Pasta is easily available (but not in a very big variety as you know it from Italy), you can get pesto and tomatoes (chopped or peeled) in most supermarkets. You also can buy dry yeast to prepare your own pizza dough. You can also make your own pizza bread – delicious!!
- American: It is easy to get all the ingredients for an awesome burger including bacon and cheese!! Onion rings and French fries you can just easily fry in a pot full of hot oil. It is cheap and delicious! You need an oven to prepare chocolate chip cookies, muffins or a chicken pot pie! For a perfect breakfast you can even buy Maple syrup for your home-made pancakes.
- Mexican: We have managed to find all the ingredients for great tacos, beans and even guacamole!!! If you look carefully, you might be able to purchase chorizo and corn flour to make the tacos shells at home.
- Swedish: If you have an Ikea in town, you can buy salmon and Kottbullar frozen. If you are a skilled baker, try to make cinnamon rolls (Kanelbullar) – you can find all the ingredients that you need in China!
- Japanese: If you are a fan of miso soup, Tonkatsu and Co. you can purchase all the basics in Carrefour or Ito Yokado and prepare these tasty dishes at home. There is no original silk tofu here but alternatively you can use the soft tofu which is used in “Mapo Tofu”.
If you are new to cooking at home, please don’t be shy, there are plenty of recipes online which are easy to understand. Websites, that might be useful are www.recipes.com, www.chefkoch.de or www.jamieoliver.com.
With all these great delicacies in mind, please don’t forget, that whilst you are in China you should use the chance to try as many different Chinese dishes as possible – be assured you will miss them when you leave! Besides that, it is surely healthy to diversify your diet – so be open to try new dishes from all over the world whenever you have the chance to. We can recommend to join one of our great international food parties – where everyone can bring a dish from his/her home-country and share your experiences with other international interns! If you live with a Chinese family in a homestay, you can also reward them for their hospitality by cooking a dish from your home country.
Ok, so last weekend Qingdao had the honour of hosting an InternChina intern’s birthday Jonathan Libis!
At twenty three years of age he decided that he would have a jam packed day which involved lasagne, rooftops, hedgehogs and killing aliens.
After taking a leisurely morning stroll around Qingdao’s beautiful May fourth square Jon sat in the summer sun and pondered what to do on this sunny day. He eventually decided to come to my house to drink beer and play halo on the Xbox, a most fortunate of decisions.
After saving the world at 6pm, we met with the other interns on ‘ Coffee street’. The streets real name is Minjiang second street and it is home to roughly a million cafes, tea houses and and bistro type restaurants. The perfect place to find a nice Italian eatery… which is what we did… and where we ate.
I think after we all stuffed ourselves on homemade pizza, pasta, and Italian wine, we would happily recommend Milanos Italian restaurant to other hungry Qingdaoers.
Jon was also showered with gifts at the restaurant which included a Chinese piggy bank, a block of cheese (being French) and a cake shaped hedgehog. What more could a 23 year old want?
The night was young so, cheese in hand, Jon led the way to the Intercontinental hotel’s famous rooftop party.
This party is held on the roof of the hotel and is called the Rain and Wine bar.. which was apt because it did actually rain, and some people were drinking wine! They have a DJ spinning his discs and ‘all you can drink/until it runs out’ beer for 50 RMB. The views from the top are spectacular, especially before 11pm when all of Qingdao is lit up with lasers and 100 metre high building screens.
We danced the night away.. until it rained too much then we went inside and chatted the night away..
All in all it was a great day! I hope Jon had a nice birthday!
Today is my last day at InternChina. For someone who enjoys writing, I’m having a hard time finding words to describe my time here. Really, six months might seem a long time, but it actually goes by in the blink of an eye. It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting at the Lao Shaanxi restaurant for my very first IC office lunch of liang pi and rou jia mo (incidentally, that was my last lunch as well).
However, this is not a real goodbye. Having graduated from my Masters just last year, I was looking for opportunities to jump-start my career and that is one of the reasons I chose to do an internship in China. Working at InternChina turned out to be the right strategic decision: thanks to the many contacts and strong relationships we have with dozens of companies in Zhuhai, I was able to find a full-time job in my field of studies, Marketing.
My original goal was to find a job in an exciting metropolis such as Beijing or Shanghai, but after half a year here, I am convinced that Zhuhai is the best place for me to begin my career. Even though it’s a small city by Chinese standards, business is booming yet the lifestyle is laid back and inexpensive. The tropical weather makes you feel like you’re on holiday even on a regular working day, and if you ever find yourself missing western food or culture, Macau and Hong Kong are just around the corner.
I had done quite a few internships before I came to China, but I can honestly say working at InternChina has taught me so much more than I expected. From learning how to manage my time with a heavy workload, to becoming head marketing intern and delegating tasks, up to figuring out logistics of arrivals, trips and events; it has all prepared me for the challenging work that awaits me at my new job.
But most of all, I have enjoyed my time in Zhuhai thanks to the people that have been part of it. The InternChina team is my family now, and Philippe (the Zhuhai Office Manager) has not only been my boss but also like the brother I never had. And even though many of the people that I’ve met here are gone or will be leaving soon, I consider them true friends and hope to see them again one day. I look forward to keep making memories with them and with all the new interns still to come.
Hello everyone it’s me, Xavier, again!
Today I would like to talk about the difference between Chinese food and Western food. If you talk about food with a Chinese person, I can promise you that she/he will be so proud of Chinese food.
Because the history of Chinese cuisine stretches back for many centuries and changed from period to period, there is a big variety. It makes Chinese very proud to have such a wide range of food. Major traditional cuisines include: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang cuisine. The three main criteria for good Chinese food are: colour, aroma and taste. In my opinion, the most popular Chinese food would be Cantonese food! Maybe some Western people don’t know what is Cantonese food but if I tell you guys: yumcha, Barbecue pork, rostra pork, Barbecue duck, Wonton, all this stuff you can see and eat in Chinatown actually comes from Canton.
So, what is the difference between Chinese food and Western food?
Chinese food is different from Western food by the way we prepare food before cooking. Chinese cut the ingredients in bite size then stir fry or steam the ingredients in short time while Westerners cook the ingredients in big pieces and cut the food on their plates with knives and forks.
There are some ingredients or seasonings in Chinese cuisine which are seldomly used in Western cuisine, like e.g. jelly fish, sea cucumber, shark fins, fish maw, bird’s nest, thousand year eggs, bean curd (tofu), oyster sauce, black bean sauce, salty shrimp paste, soy sauce, etc. On the other hand, in Western cuisine herbs like rosemary, dill, sage, oregano, thyme, tarragon etc. are added. You would normally not find these herbs in Chinese food. Chinese add ginger, spring onion, mint, coriander and white pepper. You can hardly find any traditional Chinese food that contains cheese, butter, cream or milk.
Secondly, the Chinese kitchen is a lot wilder than the Western.
It seems that the preparing of Western-style food is more peaceful: What you buy is only the fish lump where you can’t distinguish anymore which kind of fish it is, even crab may have been already boiled, what you can do is to put them into the oven or the pan.
But if you take a look into a Chinese kitchen, it seems really wild. Chicken, duck and fish are cut in the kitchen. The kitchen is full of the glint of kitchen knifes. Ha-ha! I feel it is like a battle field.
The tableware of Western-style food is knife and fork, the tableware of Chinese food is only two simple small bamboo sticks — Chopsticks. So, I think the tableware of Western-style food is wilder than the tableware of Chinese food.
Chinese vs. Western Pasta?
Thirdly, the way that Chinese and people from occidental countries praise food is different
Chinese who are praising food will generally say: “Your dish is cooked excellently, it just tastes like in the restaurant”; but when Westerners praise food, they will say that it’s just tasting like home-made food.
In fact, Chinese food and Western-style food have a lot of similar things, especially Italian food and Chinese food. Because Marco Polo took Chinese pie and noodles to Italy, the Pasta and Pizza appeared in Italy.
Even if there are some differences between Chinese food and Western-style food, I think Chinese food and Western-style food can get along harmoniously. For example, Chinese food overseas is suitable for oversea people’s taste, because of oversea people’s improvement. Similarly, the Western-style food in China is more suitable for Chinese taste, because of the Chinese improvement.