‘Travel Gratefully’ is a series of special or sponsored write ups that add more value and gratitude during my travels. The topics cover unique grateful experiences with specific people, things, places, and many others. For sponsored write ups, all are inspired by my experiences and nothing else. All posted articles are deemed worthy and in line with the main goal of this blog series which is to inspire MORE grateful travelling.
In the past year, my interest in joining food tours has increased after having very good experiences in Hanoi, Vietnam. I would always allot research for available food tours in each country I plan on travelling to.
Having been to a few Asian countries, the norm would be to go to food streets. But with some places like these, it can get a little tourist-y which somehow makes me feel that the food served defeats the purpose of experiencing authentic local food. The result feels like the popular food served is usually the ones already found back home. The taste may be a little different, sometimes better or sometimes not, but the overall feel of it feels like a tourist attraction.
Prior to our Beijing trip, I found a food tour that markets their service as “Off the beaten path”. This piqued my interest because my goal was to experience eating Chinese food that non-tourists go to. I wanted to eat at places that are NOT listed on Trip Advisor or in all those “Things to Eat in China” travel articles posted on the internet.
I emailed the Lost Plate Food Tours team and one of the owners, Brian, quickly responded to my inquiry. Lost Plate is known for its services in Xian and Chengdu. Their service in Beijing just started a few weeks ago and I was given a complimentary offer to experience the Beijing Hutong (a narrow lane or alleyway in a traditional residential area of a Chinese city, especially Beijing) food tour. They were also able to provide a starter rate so that my mom could also experience the tour. We were also grateful as we were the FIRST FILIPINOS to try this Beijing food tour!
It was really easy communicating with Brian. He provided all the details needed. The information was very specific. Everything you needed to know was sent through email. Directions, Chinese translations, reminders, and other notes given were very organized. All my queries were answered as well. I was really grateful to Brian for smooth communications.
The tours are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays. Meeting time is 6:30 PM and the tour ends at 10:00 PM. Unlike with my Hanoi food tours, the places where we ate were not in one road strip. We get to ride a Tuktuk to different locations in a certain area. The ride from one food location to another takes around 3-5 minutes.
This tour was really an interesting experience for me. I learned a lot not just from the food but from the all the people involved in the tour. From the owner to the guide to the rest of the food tour guests, I really learned a lot in a span of 4 hours. I was really grateful for the experience because learning moments like these do not come often so I just maximized every minute of it.
The tour started off at a specific subway station in Beijing. When we arrived, we already saw the Tuktuks that would take me and my mom along with other guests to different food locations around the area. It was easy to spot them as they had a sign to assure guests that we were in the right place.
The driver of the Tuktuk immediately gave my mom a beer with a foam holder. Yes! There’s unlimited beer! You can drink this in the Tuktuk and the food locations. If you don’t like beer, the Lost Plate team was very accommodating enough to give other drinks like soda.
While waiting for other guests to arrive, my mom and I chatted first with Brian and our tour guide for the night, Michael. They both spoke very good English (given that Michael was Chinese, it was really refreshing to meet someone like him in Beijing as all the people we have met so far before that point was very hard to communicate with) so there was no language barrier at all. After the brief chats, introductions, and completion of tour guests, we started our Beijing food adventure!
The Tuktuk rides were definitely an experience. The driver was zipping around the area like he owned the road. It was fun and a bit scary at the same time. My mom even said that the driver seems to think that he was driving a big truck.
We went to different restaurants that needed to pass through narrow streets. These places would be hard to find if you were just exploring on your own. Michael said that these restaurants were some of the most popular places locals would go to. So it was a very good experience for us to eat at places where locals would normally eat. The restaurants were mostly family owned and have been passed on from several generations.
Michael was a really awesome guide. He had introductions at each food location. He knew a lot of information about the place, people, and food. He also told a lot of stories about himself and China. It was a really nice getting to know each other moment. He answered all of our questions well, led the group with all smiles, and had a very fun demeanor. Michael was really outgoing which really made the tour accommodating for us.
Here are the dishes that we ate:
Hot Dried Noodles (Handmade noodles mixed with a special soy sauce, chili and sesame paste, topped with pickled radish and green onion.)
This is my 2nd favorite dish out of all the food that we ate! The sauce just really went well with the noodles and it tasted really authentic.
Door Nail Meat Buns (Large dumpling-like steamed then fried buns filled with Muslim-seasoned beef.)
THIS IS MY FAVORITE! OMG! I can still remember the feeling I got when I tasted it. Super happy! The dough was super yummy together with the broth and meat inside. OMG! YUM! Super delicious! GAAAH! SOBRANG SOBRANG SARAP (SUPER SUPER YUMMY)! This is definitely ONE OF THE BEST food I ate in Beijing!
Mongolian Pot BBQ (With marinated beef, sliced pork belly, potatoes, eggplant, and egg battered Chinese buns. A special dipping sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, green onion and secret spices)
The Chinese buns with the special dipping sauce is a must try!
Spring Pancakes (Colored with spinach, purple potato, and carrot. Filled with pork elbow, egg & chive, and kung pao chicken.)
I was already semi-full by this time so I just had one spring pancake. The tortillas were fresh and the fillings tasted really good. The sauce was really yummy too!
Fresh Yogurt (Prepared with homemade sweet rice wine.)
Even though I was already full, my mom and I finished our yogurt pretty quickly. HAHA! This was really good. It was just the right amount of sweet and an unidentified yummy after taste. My mom really liked this.
Craft Beer (Brewed locally on the premises offering a variety of popular types of beer.)
Our food tour ended at this local brewery. You can sample different types of beer to decide what beer you want a full order of.
I have been on a lot of tours before but my food tour experience with Lost Plate was definitely an experience to remember. Aside from the great food, I really loved the group of people I was with. In the past, whenever I join tours, I mostly get to meet people who travel a lot, who are students, and who are my age. It was really refreshing to meet different professionals from around the world that are older than me. The topics were very serious and passionate. I was really in awe at some of the conversations I had.
At some points it became really funny because my mom was running out of English words to say because she’s not used to speaking English for long periods of time so it was up to me to strike up and continue conversations. It was a really good experience for me to practice speaking English and conversing well. The topics were more professional and political. It was really different from the usual conversations I have with other world travelers. Mostly, I stay in hostels so the conversations tend to gear towards lighter subjects of life.
When in Beijing, try this food tour! You will definitely learn a lot and get your money’s worth. Meeting different people, conversing with them, eating authentic local cuisine, and having my mom there with me was really a grateful experience. I will forever be grateful for the things I learned, food that I ate, and people I met. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Lost Plate Food Tours team for an amazing Chinese food experience!
Travel Gratefully With Lost Plate Food Tours in Beijing, China