Beijing Zoo markets “famous” food hall

19 Dec

Shopping at the zoo markets (Dongwuyuan Wholesale Market) on a weekend can be tough work. There’s the haggling, bargaining and dealing with the crowds where everyone else is looking for something cheap and stylish. But one Sunday after we’d traipsed up, across, up, across, up and across, and tried on clothes, taken off shoes, put on shoes and said “tai gui le” one too many times, we discovered a hidden gem at these wholesale clothes markets in Beijing. I haven’t suddenly changed this blog into a clothes blog – I call this a hidden gem, for after plenty of trips to the zoo market, I’d never found my way to level 8 to find the “famous” food hall. And what a shame. I felt like other trips to the markets had almost been a waste, not knowing that this buzzing and steaming dining hall was there. Stalls with piping hot “zhou” (porridge/congee) in big vats, men with quick wrists deftly frying “chao fan” (fried rice) – although still managing to splatter their entire stalls and those who got too close with bits of rice and vegetables – bain maries filled with colourful vegetables, meats and noodle dishes and expert jiaozi folders, who filled up dough with mixtures of meat and vegetables, before folding them and popping them into pots of boiling water, or huge frying pans where the bottom of the dumplings became crispy and delicious.

The choice was hard, so we went for a bit of everything – fried jiaozi, along with ba bao zhou (eight treasure porridge – I’ll do a separate post on this!) and some vegetable dishes – mu’er, ji dan (egg), cauliflower, thinly sliced tudou (potato) and greens. For only a really small sum of money, we ate a very very tasty lunch, and one that would be worth coming back to the zoo markets just for. I know, it’s a big call. Anyway, as I’ll probably take most of my guests to shop at the zoo market, it goes without saying we’ll also be having lunch there. Oh, and for anyone who doesn’t like shopping, and would prefer to leave a loved one while they happily haggle, you can also get beers at the food hall.

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