Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fujian-style Brunch in Xiamen: Bian Rou (扁肉) Wonton Noodle Soup and Zongzi (粽子) Glutinous Rice

Because I got booted out of the 100-year old Chinese mansion hotel I stayed at (they have no permit allowing foreigners to stay with them), I moved to a hotel just down the road which does not offer breakfast. Not that I mind though.

Bian Rou Wonton Noodle Soup in Xiamen

Bian Rou Wonton noodle soup in Xiamen.

The dumpling noodle restaurant is on Zhongshan Pedestrian Road on the corner of Jukou Jie street. The best landmark is the street gate beside it on Jukou Jie.

This is perfectly fine for me as this will give me the excuse to splurge on a brunch. My idea of splurge does not mean expensive, exclusive and eating large amounts of food by the way. Splurge for me is when I have the freedom to try out new things, and in this case, Chinese food.

For this brunch, I was searching for some warm noodle soup. I was craving. Noodles are my favourite dish in the world. I make a lot at home at home, sauteed or soup style. The Dutchman loves them as well. The only difference with the noodles I make is that I add a huge amount of mix vegetables. The ratio is probably 70% vegetables – 5% meat – 25% noodles. I am a veggie lover!

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Ladies and gents, this is the kitschy Chinese version.

The other day whilst walking on the pedestrian street Zhongshan Lu, I saw the noodle restaurant on the corner of Jukou Jie street. Its façade was designed in traditional Chinese pagoda architecture, the name of the restaurant - in Chinese characters of course - was written on a red and gold-plated sign board and there were red and yellow lanterns hanging inside the restaurant and from the tree above it.

I went in and took a seat and was given the menu. No one speaks English in this restaurant, luckily the menu had pictures of the food. Not really sure if this is a bad sign but it sure does helps! I eyed a number of wonton noodle soups on the list which is a clear type of broth made from pork or fish, nothing fancy at all really and just perfect for brunch I had in mind.

Wontons as well are a type of dumplings that are made from minced pork and/or shrimp with vegetables (chopped cabbage and onions) and wrapped in extra thin dumpling wrappers. The extra thin wrappers are what makes the difference between a wonton and the normal dumpling.

Noodle restaurant Xiamen
Broth noodles Chinese restaurant Xiamen

Can you see the boiling broth?

Not wanting to settle for something extravagant, I went for the Bian Rou wonton noodle soup (also called Bian Shi), and not wanting as well to just rely on the pictured menu, I went to the open kitchen to inspect. The ladies behind the kitchen counter were a bit shy, so they started giggling. This is just so typical Asian response, haha.

Nevertheless, I saw how they prepare the noodle soup and this only fueled my hunger.

Steaming fish balls, dumplings, noodles vegetables

They simmer the dumplings (in this case the balls for these set of orders), noodles and vegetables in this boiling pot of soup. Each of the strainer baskets is an order. They are then transferred to a bowl and the broth added.

I also saw the hanging Zongzi glutinous rice. I am quite familiar with them as we have them as well in the Chinese restaurants back in the Philippines. We call them Bachang. I can recall that my mom loves them. These glutinous rice usually have pork belly bits in them.

So I wondered what they taste like here. In China, each region has their own version, so I am curious about the Xiamen (Fujian region) version.

Zongzi glutinous rice Xiamen

Zongzi hanging from the kitchen counter and that is my order I think!

So I ordered 1 x Zongzi (粽子) glutinous rice and 1 x Bian Rou Wonton (扁肉)  noodle soup.

My initial reaction to both dishes was that they were a bit bland? Then I realised that I am in Asia, the land of the sauces, so I added some chilli and soy sauce to both dishes. I guess I am just used to the rest of Asia where you can really taste the salt.

The kitchen of this restaurant is more sparing in their use of salt and they let the eater decide if they want to enrich their food with it when served on the table. Which is ideal really if you are the type who is health-conscious voluntarily or forced (I know a lot of people!), which begins with watching what you eat. Take heed everyone above 40!

Zongzi glutinous rice

Zonzi glutinous rice with pork belly bits.

Bian Rou Wonton Noodle Soup in Xiamen

Bian Rou Wonton noodle soup with cabbage and carrots. You can see that the minced pork dumplings are wrapped in very thin wrappers.

Bian Rou Wonton noodle soup and Zongzi glutinous rice Xiamen

I could not finish all this though.

My view from my table to Zhongshan Pedestrian Road. That corner street across connects to Ding'an Road where my hotel is located.

So my brunch was a good success. Quite happy with the humble brunch splurge, I then moved on for my drink. I have spotted this chic tea shop here in Xiamen called Zhang Sanfeng milk tea shop and they have a branch on Zhongshan Lu so I went there and ordered a warm cup of hot tea.

I am not a big coffee drinker. I tend to drink tea in the mornings and during the day, and only drink coffee (espresso please with a dash of sugar) after lunch and dinner. And I drink my tea as it is. No milk. No sugar. No lemon. Just tea leaves and hot water =)

Tea at Zhang Sanfeng in Xiamen
Milk Tea Shop - Zhang Sanfeng in Xiamen, China

Many (milk) tea shops in Xiamen look like this.

The facade of the restaurant taken in the evening.

Travel Period: November 2016
Destination: Siming District, 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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