November – our annual pilgrimage to see the parents. Since mom and dad had decided that they would no longer be flying to the US to see us due to the long, tiring flights (more on that later) 2 years ago, we had been making the trip out to Taiwan every Thanksgiving to spend time with them. Personally, if it were not for them, I don’t think I would ever visit Taiwan. It is grey, small, and there isn’t really much to see. One saving grace was the food, until this trip to China.
I never thought much about Chinese food, because what you get in the US is really ‘bastardized’ Chinese food – it never appealed to me. So I always fell back on Taiwanese comfort food. Luckily in Southern California you have your pick of decent Taiwanese food, especially my favorite Taiwanese beef noodle soup. However, after our trip to China, my opinion of Taiwanese and Chinese food has drastically changed. The worst food in China is better than any food in Taiwan! Beef noodle soup? Go to Lanzhou! That’s where you get good beef noodle soup. The broth is clear, yet heavenly tasty, and the noodle has a bite to it – not al dente. It’s O-M-G! They even hand make their own noodles in the airport noodle shop.
I don’t even want Taiwanese beef noodle soup anymore. Just thinking about how I can possibly get my hands on Lanzhou beef noodle soup without flying to China is depressing!
Every province in China has its own specialty. Sichuan is of course known for spicy food and their hot pot. Chongqing is spicy savory, and Chengdu is spicy numb (literally, your mouth goes numb). Spicy numb is not really my cup of tea, but the rest of the food was awesome. For a Chinese, I’m an anomaly. I don’t particularly care for rice. When we go out to eat I’ll only eat a spoonful of rice if at all. However, when we were in Chengdu I actually had 2 servings of rice per meal because the dishes were so good.
All the dishes were made out of very simple ingredients, but the taste was off the charts.
Not only was the food good, it was cheap!
For 5 people, this fish-based hot pot dinner cost a total of $30 US. In the US, it would run $15 or more per person. They gave you unlimited free ingredients to add to the stock, but by the time we were done with the fish inside the pot, we really had no more room for anything else.
In Xian, food was much more tame in comparison. But the variety of food was eye popping. Walking through the Muslim Quarter was a feast for the eyes.
The lamb kebab was my favorite, and they have their own wide “biang biang” noodles they’ve even made up a character for.
When people used to tell me that Chinese food is the best in the world, I never believed them until now. I never thought I’d ever say this, but I would go back to visit China just for the food, and I would definitely make a side trip to Lanzhou for the beef noodle soup. Yum!