In Career, Entrepreneurs, Stories, Travel, Travel Series

Travel: What it’s like to visit China – Food Vendors and Stalls

These are the things you can expect to see in China, in terms of their famed food vendors and stalls (none of which I tried, for personal reasons).

RESTAURANTS THE WAY THEY WERE IN THE PAST

Small, dilapidated restaurants in old, falling down, broken buildings. I am sort of imagining that this is what China was like before the great sweep and cleansing change of the Cultural Revolution — authentic, raw, and intense.

I took a picture and if I went back I’m sure I’d never see the stall again. It’s probably already gone by now.

As an example this is a noodle shop in Beijing, China. The last remaining, right across the street from an extremely modern (Chinese-style of modern) looking mall.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Old-Restaurant

Up close, a bearded (rare in China!) customer in red, waits for his noodles to be ready.

Beijing-Photograph-China-Old-Restaurant

 

The mall looked something like this, right beside this restaurant to the right of it, which is what made it all the more comical in a sad way.


Beijing-Photograph-China-Mall-Large-Building

Other restaurants are smaller and more makeshift behind a few tin walls:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Street-Restaurant-2

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Street-Alleyway-Restaurant-3

While others are more open-air with seating and umbrellas.

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Street-Restaurant

ALLEYWAYS WHERE THEY HAVE STREET RESTAURANTS IN FRONT OF THEIR HOMES

This is actually a street restaurant, right in front of their home.

See the menu on the left? I’m pretty sure that’s what that is (I can’t read Chinese), but the bottled water everywhere gives it away.

Shanghai-Home-Photograph-Alley-No-Walls

She gets to watch her kid while making a living, and she can do it well into her old age like these women:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Restaurant-Old-Woman-Kitchen-3

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Restaurant-Old-Woman-Kitchen-4

These pouch food things looked delicious…

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Old-Woman-Selling-Food

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Restaurant-Old-Woman-Kitchen

MOBILE FOOD COURTS

Breakfast in the morning. Where do they wash their hands, I wonder?

Maybe they’ve come up with a better system than the hotdog carts in Toronto, where I ALSO wonder where they’ve wash their hands.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Food-Street-Stall

This mom and pop shop is selling meat, seafood and other things to eat on a stick.

Very cute.. but a bit sad that they’re working so late into their old age.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Seniors-Cooking-Grill-Meat-and-Seafood

I even got a lovely video of them working. The man takes the money, the woman does the work. *cough* *cough*

You also have super small shops like this grill on a bicycle which I hear are popular street carts in India:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Street-Food-Bicycle-Vendor

 

You have to buy a lot of oil to cook that street food. This couple with a bike, had about 30 gallons of oil.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Transportation-Oil-Buckets-Bicycle

Then you also have people who sell snacks, mostly cut fruit and not meals, to refresh you during the day which is extremely healthy in my opinion.

Pineapples are very popular:

Beijing-Photograph-Street-Stall-Pineapples-Seller-Fruit

Sometimes they sell jackfruit which I love:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Food-Jackfruit-Vendor

But watermelon is also pretty popular:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Food-Watermelon-Vendor

This young man is cutting durian for sale (a stinky either you love-it-or-hate-it fruit). (I hate it).

Beijing-China-Photograph-Night-Stall-Cutting-Durian-For-Sale

And this guy sells roasted sweet potatoes:

Beijing-China-Photograph-Sweet-Potatoes-Vendor

This however, is quite a fancy setup compared to the other food stall owners.


Beijing-China-Photograph-Street-Stalls-Breakfast-Morning

This one as well.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Breakfast-Street-Stall

Sometimes it’s just (literally) a grill in the wall, on the side of a building.

No need for ventilation, you’re outside. The grill is set into the side of a crevice in a wall.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Night-Stall-Market-Cooking-Restaurant

Or they just have a grill outside:

(I LOVE her trench coat. I almost wanted to ask her where she got it but chickened out.)

Beijing-Photograph-Street-Stall-Grilling-Meat

And they have a display case of what they can grill for you (mostly offal):

Beijing-Photograph-Street-Stall-Offal-In-Cases

OR SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE “PROFESSIONAL” – SEPARATE RESTAURANT STALL

Beijing-China-Photograph-Street-Restaurants

Or little side stalls that do takeaway like these crepes:

Beijing-Photograph-Street-Fast-Food-Window-Crepes

 

Or dumplings.

Beijing-Photograph-Street-Fast-Food-Window

 

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. CorianneM

    Ah, I just love the makeshift quality of that small stalls and restaurants.
    I actually just got back yesterday from a holiday in China and miss these small stalls already! If you’re in a smaller street and you’re hungry there are so many options to eat!
    I do have my own rules for eating from stalls. I never eat fruit or other raw vegetables (only buy bananas or fruit that I wash myself); never eat meat skewers in summer/hot weather or if it looks particularly dirty; never ever seafood (especially in Xi’an saw lots of squid skewers). It leaves you with pancakes (generally made on the spot), dumplings (baozi or jiaozi, steamed at 100 degrees – if unsure about (meat) quality of a place, stick with the vegetarian versions with egg, cabbage, garlic, spring onions or tofu -sometimes even more flavourful than the meat versions), fried rice or boiling hot noodle soups. More than enough options for me!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’d agree with all of the above. I wouldn’t try the seafood (FOR SURE) and I would stick to things that are fully cooked at a high temperature.

      Reply
  2. The Asian Pear

    I’m now hungry. SOOOOO hungry.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Me too. I read my post again.

      Reply
  3. Michelle

    This post made me really hungry and also amazed at the level of ingenuity that people employ when it comes to creating ways to make money.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      The pineapple one was pretty creative.

      Reply
  4. Taylor Lee

    Eek, I’m a big fan of Chinese food but the sanitary conditions of anything less than a food truck makes me wary for my stomach.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Exactly why we didn’t eat anything but we took pictures of it all.

      Reply

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