Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Food Inc. Folks Would Brand Us for This, If They Were Into That

Posted by She Said

My children have eaten more McDonald’s here in the last three weeks than they have over the last three years in Reno. This makes me want to run screaming mad into the nearest Beijing intersection. However, with our Picky McPickerson kids, it seems the easiest thing to do to let them actually eat something before we go out to eat for something really yummy for me and Greg. Say, HOT POT! I know, I’m rolling my eyes at myself too. So there.

This Sunday was an exception to this utterly disgusting rule. After our big Silk Market day the day before, we decided to go poke around in Greg’s territory, Zhongguancun. He really wanted a 16 or 32 Gig USB key, and he wouldn’t take me up on his offer of staying home with the kids and letting him roam free. Instead he insisted that I be his negotiating beeeeaahtch. Well since I’ve been called far worse and since that’s a title I rather enjoy, we all headed out.

After picking up a $35-ish USB key for about $28 (not my best, but pretty good for the electronics market), we decided we were only a couple of floors away from one of our absolute favorites, Xiabu Xiabu - “fast food” hot pot. Sorry, kiddos, no McDonald’s here. Only this time we didn’t have any of our Chinese friends to help us through the completely Chinese speaking servers or the completely Chinese written menu. Well, language be damned! We needed our fix, so we headed up to the very full restaurant and took a number, securing our spot in line.

Um, a number. A number that would be spoken in Chinese. Oh, crap. Hurdle number one. Just as I was whipping out the Frommer’s book, the lady from whom we took the number, waved for us to come in. OH THANK GOD WE STICK OUT LIKE FOREIGNERS! Hurdle one, overcome thanks to being so different.

And just a tip for those of you who try and speak slower and more clearly when someone doesn’t understand the language you are speaking – IT DOESN’T WORK! It doesn’t matter how slowly you speak a word, if it is in CHINESE chances are high I am not going to understand it.

OK, hurdle number two. Ordering drinks. We offered to let the kids have a soda, and since we were conveniently sitting next to the fountain machine, Greg hopped up and pointed to the orange soda and held up two fingers. I chimed in with “bing”, which means ice, and adamantly shook my head from side to side with the hopes that I was communicating NO BING. Hey, I can at least attempt to stick to those stringent rules everyone warned us to adhere to prior to coming, including not using ice.

Then, thank goodness we have trigger fingers with our picture taking because we pulled up a picture of a beer that Greg had taken and again held up two fingers.

VICTORY. Two orange sodas without ice and two draft beers. CHA-CHING!

Hurdle three. Ordering the food. Again, we whipped out the pictures we took at our previous visits to Xiabu Xiabu, which allowed us to MOSTLY order what we wanted. We ended up with an extra pork dish:

This turned out to be bacon, so we were SO not complaining.

So, to recap, this is what the kids had:


And, this is part of what we had:


Please note, the ordering tool on the table (iPhone) and the kick ass sesame/peanut/cilantro sauce just ready for dipping.

Our only problem with our meal was we were a little TOO eager and showed a LOT of our pictures, making our meal far more than we could possibly eat. We need to learn how to show a little restraint when we go for hot pot or learn how to ask for a “take away” bag. Hey, one can dream!

And just for those of you who might be wondering what this cost us - including two beers, two sodas, an enormous piling of cilantro, and tons of meat and veggies – it totaled a whopping FIFTEEN bucks!

With all this ordering, Greg got himself all worked up in a crazed frenzy. I mean, why else would he have been working so hard to figure out what this said:


Greg: <looking at the sign> What does that say?
Me: <raising eyebrows> Seriously?
Greg: you-da-ix? WTF?
Me: Dude, we are on the wrong side of the glass.
Greg: <smacking forehead>


  1. You go with your pointing communicating selves!

  2. Love it! I am so taking you with me on my (pipedream) world travels...

  3. Glad you were able to do it on your own! Woohoo! You go girl!
    Also, the bit at the end about the sign was hysterical...sorry Greg. :P