Indoor fair of gustatory delights
Updated: 2012-01-21 10:54
By Ye Jun (China Daily)
Among the most festive events in Beijing for Spring Festival are its temple fairs, of which are the biggest held at Ditan Park, Longtan Park, Chaoyang Park and Qianmen Pedestrian Street.
Food, entertainment, souvenirs - and the fun of happy crowds - are among the attractions. But if you are interested in trying traditional Chinese snacks, then a good choice is a visit to Wanfeng Snack City, an all-in-one destination for a range of Chinese finger food.
Wanfeng Snack City will hold an indoor temple fair from the first to the sixth days of the Lunar New Year, which means Jan 23 to 28. An obvious advantage is that participants don't have to brave the cold as in outdoor temple fairs. Another advantage is of course the great variety of food.
Established in 2010, the three-floor, 16,000-square-meter snack center can accommodate up to 2,000 people. It offers 1,000 types of foods from the 56 ethnic groups in China, according to the management of the company. It is reportedly the world's biggest snack shop.
Of course, Beijing traditional snacks are available, including wandouhuang mashed pea cakes, ludagun'er glutinous rice cake rolls and aiwowo round pastry made from steamed glutinous rice with sweet stuffing.
It has a big Xinjiang food stand with tempting display of freshly baked naan bread, grilled stuffed buns and kebabs served by beautiful woman dressed in traditional Xinjiang garb. An Inner Mongolian stand next to it has roast lamb, dried beef, cheese and milk tea.
Some stands are famous Beijing brands with long histories. Yue Sheng Zhai, for example, offers brown-braised beef and lamb. Nian Gao Yang makes glutinous rice cakes and fruit jelly. Some other popular choices are smelly bean curd, yoghurt and donkey meat wrapped in crispy flour cake.
The first floor of the center is like a big restaurant, while the second is decorated in the style of an old Beijing food street. There are both public dining areas and private rooms for groups. The first floor center stage will host traditional performances every day from Jan 24-27 including acrobatics, xiangsheng (comic cross-talk) and folk music.
The third floor is home to two restaurants. Zhengyangmen Restaurant offers traditional Shandong cuisine, such as roast duck and dry-braised fish. The Nine Gates Hotpot Restaurant has beef and lamb rolls in a traditional Beijing copper pots heated by charcoal. The third floor also has a snack museum to give you an idea where all the foods come from.
For the Spring Festival, the snack city has arranged children's game areas where young ones can play with Chinese shuttlecock and kites. Folk artisans will make paper-cuts, cloth art, flour figurines, candy figurines and portraits on the spot.
A meal at the snack city costs 30-100 yuan ($4.75-15.83) per head. The average bill at third-floor restaurants is about 100 yuan per person.