After we returned from a full day of sightseeing we went for a walk just a few blocks from the hotel to the Wangfujing Market.
The market is actually a huge pedestrian walkway that looks much like Time Square in New York. It’s filled with very polished high end stores, huge indoor shopping malls and lots of neon and digital billboards.
The things that truly impressed me were the security and cleanliness. There are a lot of police directing traffic at the crossroads and security patrolling the walkway. There were people all over sweeping and wiping down some of the historical and educational markers. It’s really nice to see.
We met up with two young girls from our tour group who are from Southern California, April and Liz. They were headed that way too so we set off together.
I’m not sure they knew exactly what they were in for.
Several blocks into the market there is a large ornamental gate that opens into an incredible street market.
This crowded, loud, gritty market is filled with stall after stall of unique street food. Chuck and I watched dozens of YouTube videos about this market and others just like it.
It was fairly early so it wasn’t too, too crazy but the pace and the crowds built as the night went on.
The smells here were a mixture of delicious and disgusting.
One of the first places we found was a bucket list item for us; it was skewers of fried scorpions.
They display skewers of three live, still moving scorpions and they fry them and roll them in a powdered seasoning with a light curry type flavor to it.
Liz was out, so it was up to April, Chuck and I – one scorpion each. April went first and downed the first one with a bit of a wince on her face.
Before I could event get the video open on my phone Chuck plucked his off and I just caught him chomping away at it.
I needed to capture this so I turned my video on myself . I bit down and struggled to get if off the stick, pulling it again and chomping away.
It was crispy like a chip and not really flavorful except for the seasoning powder.
The texture reminded me of eating a fried shrimp and going too far where you bite into the crunchy tail.
With the mission accomplished we went on to find other items.
I was really proud of myself when I was able to ask one of the vendors if the skewer meat was ji (chicken) and he completely understood me when he answered back pork in Chinese.
As we made our way through the market we tried a number of other foods. Some of the panfried beef buns and pork dumplings were pretty tame, others like the spicy tripe were more adventurous.
Liz got a bubble ice cream. This was a waffle cone baked in a bubble mold, filled with vanilla ice cream ( more of a frozen yogurt) and topped with strawberries. They had a huge variety of fruit and fruit syrups to choose from.
One of our favorites was jianbing. This is a wheat crepe topped with egg and then brushed with red bean paste, chili paste, and sprinkled with cilantro and green onion. They then place a crispy cracker in the middle and fold it, almost like a burrito. They were so good we had two!
While we were adventurous enough to try the scorpions we passed on the stinky tofu. Had you not smelled it all over the market we may have tried it.
The market is filled with food but also a lot of touristy souvenirs and some local crafts.
Absolutely check out Wangfujing if you are in Beijing
Here’s some foods we didn’t try…