Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Being Greedy in Xiamen, China: Pork Belly Rice & Fried Squid for Dinner

My hotel in Xiamen was located in the district of Siming near Zhongshan Lu pedestrian street, the busiest and most touristy street in Xiamen. This means I am surrounded by many street food vendors and restaurants. I was practically salivating the moment I arrived, so I quickly treated myself to a seafood lunch.

But this entry is not about lunch, it is about dinner =)

Deep fried breaded squid in Xiamen

Just to give you an idea how massive this deep fried breaded squid is. It is the size of my face. I know I am being greedy.

Xiamen food

Can you understand my predicament? So difficult to choose from the wide array of choices. Which would you pick? Seafood is popular in Xiamen cuisine. 

As I walk the streets of Siming District, I kept telling myself – I need to try this one, and oh, that one too and that one over there as well. Goodness gracious, my taste buds were cackling like chickens in mating. I was already scheduling all the food in my head for the next 3 days which is going to be a challenge as I only have one stomach, and sadly, a stomach that easily gets full.

It is no secret that I love food. Helaas, very much. My travels are most of the times planned around the food I will be eating and their locations, working my way through the city and tasting whatever I can find from the local cuisine’s scene. Xiamen I noticed has a focus on seafood which I very much welcome as I love all sorts of fishes and crustaceans.

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On my first night in Xiamen, I was lured into this small open-air food mall on Siming South Road just beside the Laiya department store. I was attracted to the bright neon lights and so I went in. I passed by this deep fried breaded squid stand and stood there for a minute convincing myself that I want this for dinner. Has that ever happened to you when travelling? I have a thing for seafood and I love squid, and this is also one of the street foods I have identified that I will try. But an inner voice in my stomach says I need to eat rice and vegetables. It has been days since I had a good one for dinner.

Although I am really craving for it, I thought the deep fried breaded squid can wait. I listened to the inner voice in my stomach =)

So I walked further down the alley and saw more food options, in fact, I was confronted with an even more complex scenario. Left and right I am enticed by food stalls offering a vast variety of delicious-looking fares. People were queueing up at one food stand while other vendors had to call customers to have a look at the fodder they are selling. Oh dear, choosing can be a daunting task. I thought – Argh, I want to eat them all, haha.

Xiamen food stall
Xiamen food choices

Braised duck, steamed hairy crabs and sausages...

Queuing up for food in Xiamen

People literally queuing up... you see this a lot in Xiamen, as well in Taipei, Taiwan. This food stand does not have indoor tables so I didn't bother.

Xiamen cuisine - seafood

Choosing which to order seems to be a daunting task, haha.

Xiamen cuisine - fresh seafood
Xiamen set meals with rice

Nicely presented set meals with rice.

I made the decision to eat at this open food stall on the corner because they have tables and they also have a wide array of set meals with rice which is what I am looking. The signage is in Chinese so I do not know the name of the place.

After a minute or two figuring out which set meal, I settled for the pork belly cured in some kind of local tea leaves (I think) with steamed vegetables. I am not really sure if I was happy with this choice though. I noticed that the herbs and spices locals use in Xiamen have a very distinct flavour which was something new for me. I assume one would need to acquire this taste to eventually like it, but my taste buds I believe are somewhat developed so I am able to appreciate the taste without giving the dish a harsh judgment. But I did wonder – What if I ordered the shrimp, beef or chicken instead?

In this trip, I realised that Chinese cuisine is a motley of sorts. Being raised in the Philippines and having a lot of Chinese friends, I was exposed to Chinese culture and cuisine. We seem to have lumped everything Chinese into a certain food category and taste, but this visit to Xiamen has given me the wisdom that I was only seeing bits and pieces of the total picture. Travel really widens your perspective, and I can’t wait to visit more places in China in the coming years.

Xiamen dinner Pork belly + veggie + rice
Pork belly + veggie + rice

I devoured most of it but leaving a lot of rice on the plate. Eating more than enough carbs is not good for the waistline especially when you are in your (late) 40's. Hear, hear!

My first night's dinner in Xiamen
Beautiful floor tiles in the cafeteria restaurant

The cafeteria-restaurant has lovely colourful tiles on the floor!

After my Pork Belly Veggie Rice dinner, I ventured back outside the alley further inspecting the food stalls and what they have on offer. Seeing the different kinds of food, some of them were new and exotic to me excites my senses. Then I passed by the deep fried calamari snack stand and although I have had dinner, I cannot help but stop, and then salivate, haha.

‘Oh, what the heck.’ I told myself as I took coins out from my pocket. ‘One please!’

At this point, I have lost control and have caved into my greedy side. But I don’t care anymore. I reminded myself that it is my first night in a new city, so I need to give myself some slack. A craving is, after all, a craving. The earlier it is dealt with, the better =)

Anyway, the whole deep fried breaded squid was so huge, I couldn’t finish it all. But at least my craving was satisfied. It was quite good though and I highly recommend this seafood snack, and perhaps eat this with someone else because the whole calamari is really good for two.

Deep fried breaded squid in Xiamen, China
Deep fried breaded squid in Xiamen, China

This is huge and this serving is actually good for 2 people. 

Deep fried breaded squid in Xiamen, China

So that it folks, my first night’s dinner in Xiamen. More food stories to come.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Siming, Xiamen (Fujian), China

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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