Wow That’s Good Food!
If your idea of a good Chinese meal involves rounding up the family for a trip to Panda Express, you’re in for a real treat. Before my first meal in Beijing, it never really hit that I was actually in China. Our bus from the airport drove on brand new highways, passing BMW sedans, several Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, and even an IKEA. But once I stepped foot in a Chinese restaurant in Beijing, I no longer had any question that this was a whole new world. Our first meal was cheap -- the equivalent of two dollars including a drink, entrée and dessert -- but with no English menu or a single photograph to point at, the ordering process really made the experience unique. I was relieved to find that my attempt at ordering “chicken with rice” was actually a success.
Last night I could honestly say that was the best two bucks I’d ever spent… that, of course, changed with today’s lunch. A single U.S. dollar (about 7 CNY) bought my lunch, complete with tofu, rice, soup, fried chicken, and an enormous bottle of beer. My first two meals were both on a university campus, but great deals can also be found elsewhere in the city -- as long as you’re willing to be fairly flexible with what you eat.