Friday, May 19, 2017

Queuing Up for the Famous Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

This is perhaps the most famous, some even say must-eat street food in Xiamen.

Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

My first encounter with this oyster omelette street food phenomenon was on my first day in the city when I came back in the evening to my hotel near Zhongshan Lu pedestrian street and passing on the busy side street called Taiping Lu which is filled with an array of street food vendors doing the live cooking. On this street is where I also had my first (lunch) meal in the city.

As mere human beings, we are a curious, sensitive and social lot. Anything that stands out from the norm, we quickly react to it. We are inquisitive and we can be envious too. So seeing this street food vendor with quite a long queue piqued my interest. I learned that the oyster omelette is a local speciality, and it got stuck in my head that I want to try it too.

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Just to give you an idea – I stayed in Xiamen for 3 nights/4 days on a 72-hour visa-free transit arrangement, and every single day, I see this long queue to this oyster omelette street food stand. There are actually a few stands selling the same thing in the area but the one on Taiping Lu gets the award for the longest line. It could have been because of their location.

Another thing to consider here is that it is not a quick wait at all. This is live cooking, a cook as you order kind of thing which is by the way very typical in Asia. Each cooking session at this oyster omelette stand on Taiping Lu produces 2 orders which take approximately 2-3 minutes, so one can easily wait for 10-20 minutes or more because some people who queue take up more than 2 orders each!


The long queue to taste this oyster omelette. You pay upfront (to the smiling man on the video) and get a plastic bowl as you patiently wait for your turn.

Oyster Omelette street food stand in Xiamen, China

The celebrity pretty-boy endorsing the oyster omelette. Not sure if the girl is a celebrity as well?

On the overhead signage of the street food stand, I see a prominent picture of a smiling young Chinese pretty boy holding a plate of oyster omelette. It is in Chinese of course but the message is very clear: He must be a famous celebrity endorsing the oyster omelette. Naturally, this street vendor stand gets marketing traction. A lot, especially in the evenings.

So I told myself that I cannot leave Xiamen without tasting this even if I hate queues.

I am also not sure if this was a tourist trap but the long queue every evening to the oyster omelette stand was consistent. Ah, I am but a mere mortal and therefore weak, so I succumbed to jumping on the bandwagon and lining up for 20 minutes just to taste this local Xiamen street food speciality on my last night in the city. Even after I already had dinner! Glutton much, haha. Well, I reassured myself that this is going to be my offbeat dessert or my needed late evening snack =)

The verdict?

I found the oyster omelette juicy, tasty and good. It was OK, but because of the hype and the longer than usual wait, I was quite expecting a product so extraordinary that would tickle my culinary tasting glands. Well, it didn’t. In fact, I was wondering why people were crazy about it. Well, I know it is a local treat and most people visiting want to try it, but I think that there was just too much hype built around this particular street food.

So I do not think I would queue up for this again. But to taste it for the first time? Why not.

Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

The stand is really small and it can get very hot. The guy cooking always shoos everyone who comes close because of the oil spatter. So, the first thing he does is saute the oysters with spring onions.

Cooking Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

He sets aside the oyster and spring onions and pours beaten egg on the cooking plate.

Cooking Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

Then he adds the oyster and spring onions on top. As you can see, he makes 2 servings/orders here.

Cooking Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

Afterwards, he adds some cabbage.

Cooking Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

He then flips it over.

Cooking Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

And it is ready to be served!

Queuing up for Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

So here I am queuing up for a piece of this oyster omelette hype. I bought some honey lemon tea drink to go with my late evening snack.

Customer line Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China
Queuing up Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

You have to pay upfront, then you can line up and they give you this plastic bowl. No turning back now, I must wait in line.

Oyster Omelette in Xiamen, China

Waiting time was about 20 minutes! They serve it with some sweet chilli sauce.

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

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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

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