I didn't have any special plans for my birthday this year, apart from finally seeing 王力宏 Wang Leehom in concert, but my friends came to the rescue and told me to meet them at a lovely restaurant in Sanlitun 三里屯 for an amazing birthday dinner: loads of delicious food, cool German beer (!!!), a ton of laughter and a great time.
I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of beer in general but growing up in Germany I learned one thing: summer isn't perfect without a cool beer to finish the day in style. Besides the Chinese stuff, while not awful, tastes like the watered down real thing. Now that I know that there is some good German beer to be had in China (even the price is acceptable) I'm starting to miss Guinness! I'd love a pint to go with my dinner, although my personal trainer would probably rip me apart if he was to find out...just as well he doesn't speak any English.
We postponed having some birthday cake, in favour of more food until the day after.
Have a look for yourself what we indulged in...there was a delicious bacon salad, pizza, sushi, Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐), a spicy cabbage and pork dish and fresh salmon as well as some vegetable sticks to nibble on because the restaurant was filled to the brim and it took them a while to bring our food.
Eating pizza with chopsticks really ought to become the next hype, it's fun and it takes a certain skills to grab the slice of pizza just right without letting all the cheese and other topics fall right back onto your plate.
My stomach was not too happy later that evening - milky products and I don't have a very good track record, but sometimes you need to live a little. It would have been more pleasant if I knew where in China I can buy lactase tablets which makes consuming lactose possible for those among us with the pesky intolerance for milk products. But I do live to tell the tale...
Thanks to my friends for a fantastic dinner, it was somewhat of a surprise dinner arranged at the last minute, but it was perfect. The food was delicious, just unfortunately not spicy enough. We especially asked the waitress to tell the chef to add extra lajiao 辣椒 to the Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) because Beijing isn't really known for it's spicy food. Just as well we requested it because when the dish arrived it was only a little spicy, nothing like what you'd expect to get when eating Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) in Wuhan let alone Sichuan.
Still, the restaurant is fabulous, the food is great, the atmosphere is good and the prices are also acceptable. It's a great place for dinner with friends, family, a party or even a date. I like places like this!
It was the first time for me to see Sanlitun. I heard so much about it but I never had the chance to go there so my friends took care of that and made sure that I get to see what all the fuss is about. There is an amazing two story bookshop just across the street and they have tons of English books, teaching material, study material. It felt just like walking into Hughes & Hughes or Easons back in Dublin. I almost didn't want to leave, I wanted to move right into a reading corner near the window, get a pot of coffee and surround myself with a ton of books to eat. On my next trip to Beijing, if anyone is up for ditching our phones inside our bags and spending a rainy afternoon reading and slurping coffee, well you know I'm game...
Images curtesy of dianping.com