Beijing culinary centennial icons “Laozihao”

Beijing culinary centennial icons are revered “Laozihao” (老字号) establishments. Known as gastronomic exceptional restaurants showcasing almost every region of Chinese cuisine in the capital city. The title translates as ‘old brand’names¹. Each in its own uniqueness representing a high level of culinary art by remaining true to its origin.

Stumbled upon an older article mentioning the city’s eponymous duck and the city’s oldest surviving restaurant. “Bianyifang Kaoyadian” established in 1416, the premise originally began as a takeaway. The first characters of the Chinese name ‘Bianyifang’ roughly translates as “convenient to everyone” roast duck shop.

As the name of the shop indicates it features a special bird, the duck, with an illustrious history. The roast duck dates back with an acknowledgement as early as the Yuan dynasty (1202-1368). Here it became listed among the Imperial dishes in ‘The Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages’³. For connoisseurs and curious foodies who like to read more about the history of roast duck click on the link. A different poultry topic here for the goose link. Source: A Taste of Old Peking: The Capital’s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants | the Beijinger 

A Taste of Old Peking The Capital s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants the Beijinger

Source credit: | blog author Ed Lanfranco

The Flavour of the Capital

After reading the article, my own memories unfurled of an earliest family home trip in 1981. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I visited a few of these iconic Beijing culinary centennials establishments. One of them is the now well over 200 years old Yueshengzhai Restaurant. The most famous and oldest Muslim establishment in the capital city. Doors opened in 1775, by a former servant at the Qing Imperial court named Ma Qingrui. Six generations have continued and followed the traditions after its founder.

“In 2007  Yueshengzhai’s received recognition for processing techniques for braised mutton with soy sauce. Most noteworthy citing the high standards of guarding the quality of meals. An integral part of Beijing’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Source:

For more in-depth information featuring “The flavour of the capital” (Jingwei’r) click here on the China Heritage Newsletter link. The link includes an appendix with halal related snacks and dishes in Beijing. The food keeps drawing local devotees and visitors to the same place. With each visit renewing one’s palate is a feast of confirmation and merit reminiscent to old Peking.

One of the featured dishes is “Baodu” made from intestines and what I ate at my second visit to Beijing. The thin slices were meltingly tender and aromatic. Tripe if not cooked and seasoned correctly is unpalatable and rubbery. What surprised me was the hot-vinegary tart sauce and use of cumin. A spice which is not common in the south-eastern cuisine (my family originates from Zhejiang province). Cumin founds its way by caravan trade into China north-western regions Xinjiang, Mongolia and Hunan cuisine.

“BAODU 爆肚 (lamb tripe in sauce) 
This seared and thinly sliced delicate tripe is made from the washed stomach lining of the sheep. Prepared with a special sesame based sauce with flavour ingredients including cumin, pepper, chilli, vinegar. The dish is often accompanied with shaobing, a baked unleavened layered flat bread. Baodu originates from China’s north-west, it has come to find its home into the capital.”

1,000-year-old Copper Firepots

Among culinary centennial discovery was seeing and enjoying the copper chimney firepot “Huo Guo”. This cooking pot dates over 1,000 years with the origin being from Mongolia. Fuelled by charcoal heating the broth to a slow simmer with the smoke escaping through the chimney. China Northern cuisine is represented by the mutton hotpot by using sheep (lamb) bone stock as broth. Most of the copper chimneys have disappeared, replaced by digital electrical cooking pots.

The cooking pots with steaming hot broth have a variety of choices of basic Chinese meat, fish or seafood stock. Varying seasoning of MaLa (lip numbing hot!) or herbal infused and more. Will mention my favourite book choices in a separate post with recipes to prepare your own tasty & healthy hotpot dinner(s). Other cultural influences by neighbouring cuisines as Thai, Korean based stocks appear on the menu. A new cooking vessel is known as the YinYang or Double duck to serve a spicy and non-spicy version. This new design serves double broths, is a big hit as a home cooking utensil and restaurants serve ware.


Source courtesy and photo credit:

For our international readers the above serve ware can be ordered online, but for Dutch readers and foodies, both items are on sale at Chinese Supermarkets e.g. Dun Yong Amsterdam, Wah Nam Hong The Hague and Amazing Oriental in Rotterdam.

This post contains affiliate links by purchasing through these links Asianfoodtrail earns a small commission to support and maintain the website. However, you pay the same price for the item (it does not increase). Please note promoted links to products are purchased, used, tried and tested unless stated otherwise. For more information, read my disclaimer.

  1. “Time honoured shops” is the official translation of 老字号. A government distinction awarded to certain brand names and shops that have proven histories. Source: Book Unequal Englishes: The Politics of Englishes Today by R. Tupas
  2. China’s time-honored brands struggle to survive |
  3. The History of Chinese Imperial Food | Kaleidoscope-food culture -internet warning unsafe link malware
  4. Beijing Halal |
  5. A Taste of Old Peking: The Capital’s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants |
  6. Mutton like no other |

Chinese Top Chefs “modesty is a virtue”

For Chinese Top Chef’s “modesty is a virtue”, this is a high-minded and  a traditional behavior in Chinese societies. Celebrities Chefs who gained fame in the West through cooking tv shows are Ken Hom, Martin Yan, Kylie Kwong and Ching He Huang. And let’s not forget the productive and outstanding Chinese cookbook author; Deh Ta Hsiung just to name a few. But when readers are asked to name present Chinese Top Chefs in China, or a Chinese Top Chef nearby not much is known initially. With the aid of foodies culture, international awards and worldwide acknowledgements of International famous peers, public awareness is growing.

A wind of change is cooking up a storm of transformation with new Top Chinese Chefs gaining recognition and they are turning heads with creativity, combination of East meets West, high skills and innovation. In The Netherlands, The Hague well known Chef Han of Restaurant Hanting in BeiJing Chef Executive Chef Da Zhenxiang of famous Da Dong Restaurants two names and places on opposite sides of the globe.

“You cannot learn about Sichuan food in Beijing because it tastes different,” he says. “You have to go to Sichuan to taste the authentic food. This period was very tough because I only earned 19 kuai [a colloquial term for the yuan] each day and had to work hard to clean the kitchen, and buy presents for the sifu [master], hoping they would teach me something.”

While chefs such as Heston Blumenthal come to his restaurant to learn how to make Peking duck, Dong also spends time in other kitchens to pick up new skills and ideas. He spent a year learning French cooking techniques at the Maxim’s de Paris restaurant in Beijing.

In August, he went to Mongolia in search of wild mushrooms for new dishes. “The mushrooms naturally grow in circles in the grass, so I was inspired to also present them this way on the plate with flowers,” he says.” This article was first published in the South China Morning Post, to read more click on the linked article(s).

via Top Chinese chefs shun the spotlight | South China Morning Post.

Lanzhou La Mian Rap and Eat

Spontaneous post on the famous Lanzhou La Mian hand pulled noodles; which is a type of noodle made by stretching, folding and twisting the dough in strands. The subsequent stretching and twisting by the weight of the dough, followed by the number of times the dough gets folded and stretched, this will make the strands of noodles in various lengths and thickness.

The post idea was initiated by a tweet from Gary Soup on our @Asianfoodtrail twitter feed sharing an older post from his blog; the Full Noodle Frontity archives: The Rap on Lanzhou La Mian  For Chinese language speakers and language students, entertaining and funny to watch a modern praise on a famous traditional noodle dish. “A rap song about Lanzhou La Mian, by Gansu rapper Gao Xi, as a tribute to his iconic hometown speciality.” Unfortunately, I was unable to embed the rap song video, but you can click on the provided link at the bottom of the cartoon image below to watch the rap in your browser or view in the blog link post here above.

Rap song Lanzhou La Mian

Since we are on this noodle topic, for those who might wonder what is Lanzhou noodle, La Mian – freshly made hand pulled noodles. Click on the Youtube video here to watch two kinds of noodle making; the knife shaved noodles and famous hand-pulled beef noodles served in clear broth from start to slurp.

My kids are like me huge noodle fans any-style, beef noodle broths and beef noodle soups are highly ranked on our family favourites of comfort food dishes. I promised to write down my recipes for them. For now, if you like me are getting hungry, a recipe by Judy for Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup includes beautiful food photography images how it looks after your hard work to enjoy and savour. This recipe originally appeared on the Woks of Life blog, a family of four bloggers sharing their kitchen explorations and travels.

Lanzhou beef noodle soup

Recipe source and photo credits:

Acknowledgements: With thanks for original content and credits to Gary Soup’s lead on the Lanzhou rap song, Steve Lindenman Making noodles by hand Youtube video and The Works of Life family for their Lanzhou beef noodle recipe.

Fortune Top 10 powerful businesswomen in China

Fortune magazine’s Chinese edition has named 25 Chinese women as the country’s most powerful businesswomen.

By pushing into new territories and inspiring women in their home countries, these globetrotters are, quite literally, taking on the world. These business leaders represent entrepreneurship, innovation, and sensible management. They have listed 25 names here are the top 10 businesswomen in China Fortune Top 10 powerful businesswomen in China

Gree Electric Appliances President Dong Mingzhu was ranked the most powerful woman in business in China, as shown on Fortune China’s list of the 25 most powerful Chinese businesswomen, released on November 14, 2014.

Worth to mention among the nominees this year, is Zhang and her husband, Pan Shiyi, on behalf of SOHO China, donated U.S. $15 million to Harvard University and U.S. $10 million to Yale University to help establish scholarship programs. SOHO China plans to donate U.S. $75 million more to prestigious overseas schools, all to help China’s disadvantaged undergraduate students study at world-class universities. More details on All-China Women’s Federation or for full list Fortune in China article 2014中国最具影响力的25位商界女性.

Front cover Fortune China

Front cover Fortune China article mentions Dutch Herna Verhagen, chief executive of postal company PostNL, she has been voted the most powerful woman in the Netherlands 2014 by feminist magazine Opzij. Each year Opzij magazine presents Top 100 list of most Powerful Women in the Netherlands (unfortunately no complete list overview was shared or available on print). Top businesswomen in ten different categories, grouped in a single list.

Former winners: FNV leader Agnes Jongerius 2009, Princess Beatrix – then Queen 2010, APG pension fund Anglien Kemna 2011, Secretary-General for External Affairs Renee Jones Forest 2012, Health Minister Edith Schippers 2013.

Herna Verhagen PostNL


Honoring the Chinese Railroad Workers; U.S. Labor Hall of Honor

This post features Chinese history of immigrants and their impact on America becoming their home. The first article is the blog post publication of United States Department of Labor blog by Secretary Tom Perez. The Second is a related article with additional information containing a photo and video content authored by John from 8Asians, a blog about Asian American issues.

They Helped Build a Railroad − and a Nation: Honoring the Chinese Railroad Workers

One hundred forty-five years ago tomorrow, May 10, the word “DONE” was telegraphed to Washington D.C., sending word that the final spike had been driven in to complete the First Transcontinental Railroad. It was one of the most remarkable engineering feats of the 19thcentury, connecting the country from coast-to-coast, facilitating commerce and opening the door for massive economic expansion. Before its completion, cross-country travel took six months. The railroad reduced it to a single week.

Chinese Railroad workersBut too often lost in discussions of this awe-inspiring achievement is the contribution of the approximately 12,000 Chinese laborers who took on the grueling task of completing the western section of the track.

It was backbreaking, dangerous work. Many of these workers died from the harsh winters and brutal conditions. They laid tracks on terrain that rose 7,000 feet in less than 100 miles, chipped away at the granite and planted explosives that were used to blast tunnels through the treacherous Sierra Nevada Mountains. Read full article Official blog United States Department of Labor.


Chinese Railroad Workers Inducted into the U.S. Labor Hall of Honor & Reclaiming Promontory Point

Related to the Honoring of the Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor honor for the Chinese railroad workers, the most famous photo related to the completion of the transcontinental railroad was taken with both the Eastern and Western section of the rail track were joined, at what is now known as Promontory Point, in Promontory Summit, Utah. However, no Chinese laborers were included in that famous photo:

“Over the years, one photograph in particular from May 10, 1869, has taken root in U.S. history. “It’s a black-and-white, very historic-looking photo,” says Connie Young Yu, the great-granddaughter of a Chinese laborer on the railroad. The iconic image shows a crowd of men swarmed around two locomotives “In the middle are the two engineers shaking hands,” Yu says. “And above them are workers hoisting champagne bottles.” … But the portrait wasn’t perfect. “History — at least photographically — says that the Chinese were not present,” says photographer Corky Lee. As a junior high school student, he pored over the photo with a magnifying glass. But he couldn’t spot a single Chinese laborer in the picture, even though more than 12,000 workers from southern China were hired by the Central Pacific Railroad. They made up the overwhelming majority of its workforce.”

For full 8Asians blog post with historic photo and video content click here.


descendants Chinese railroad worker reanacting iconic photo on the 145th anniversary railroad completion Promontory Summit, Utah

Descendants Chinese railroad worker reenacting iconic photo on the 145th-anniversary railroad completion Promontory Summit, Utah Courtesy photo source: Corky Lee

Youth tea art contest in Hangzhou, China

Three days ago a Chinese youth Tea Art competition kicked off in HangZhou, capital of Zhejiang Province and Tea centre. During this contest 19 pupils showed their knowledge of tea and skills of tea art. To view more photographs click on this link Youth tea art contest kicks off in Hangzhou[1]-

Tea Art

The habit of drinking tea in China started during Zhou dynasty (1066-256 BC).  The skill of making and serving tea was regarded as important as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Zhu Xi, a South Song dynasty philosopher, started the practice of drinking tea in a certain ritual and his tea ceremony was handed down and further highlighted by such scholars such as the 8th Century scholar, Lu Yu (Tang dynasty) and Huang Ru Ze (Song dynasty).

Today, the tea ceremony is being revived by overseas Chinese and it is a popular cultural activity. Lu Yu wrote a book named Cha Jing in which the origin, the production, the utensils, the making and the drinking of tea were discussed. He also popularised the art of tea drinking as he travelled widely and associated with all kinds of people ranging from scholars to businessmen. (

Tea is enjoyed by any age and as mentioned before in my other tea related posts, there is much, much more than just putting a kettle on for a pot of ordinary tea. Real tea embodies flavour and fragrance, the preparation of soaking the exact amount of time followed by pouring tea where its centres on that perfect moment. With more than 2,000 years of history an abundant choice of tea leaves, the story continues and luckily many tea moments to linger on.  

For those who are interested in Tea Art Daniel Lui has written an insightful “Gong Fu Cha – The Complete Guide to Making Chinese Tea”, you can download his guide as pdf file. He manages and owns The Chinese Tea shop and blogs with an online forum, I encourage you to read his Tea reviews.

Tea connection, introducing The Tea Urchin

Tea Connection

For the love of Tea, I’ve made a wonderful connection with the owners of Tea Urchin, Eugene & Belle. I have been following Tea Urchin’s blog for quite a while and the main reason is their ongoing search and tea explorations but what attracted me the most are the wonderful travel stories, discoveries, people and affinity with their surroundings.

Through Eugene’s writings you can read their passion and engagement sharing tea experience from a wide angled view. Their home is in ShangHai, China, but in our recent email exchange Eugene shared with me that he and Belle visited The Netherlands while on honeymoon. So there you have another introduction, live is a series of moments invisibly string together.

Tea Urchin: mountain tea – hand picked leaves


Why Tea Urchin?

Eugene & Belle launched Tea Urchin to share their love of Chinese tea with the world. Eugene is an Australian who moved to Shanghai in 2004, where he discovered gongfu cha & became obsessed with puer. There he met & married Belle, a feisty Shanghainese tea lover with a penchant for sweet reds & fragrant oolongs.

Together, we travel around China, collecting rare, hand crafted teas. We love finding good tea, made by good people, and we help them to find an international market. We also specialize in premium tea ware from Yixing, Jingdezhen, Longquan & Taiwan.

We go the extra mile to produce our own puer tea, called “Cha Ren” (茶仁 which means “tea compassion”). Each year, we travel to Yunnan to source traditional, hand crafted puer teas directly from the best farmers. We work with the same trusted tea-makers each year, to ensure our tea is pesticide free, and not blended with cheaper or inferior teas. You can meet our producers & follow our tea adventures on our Tea Urchin blog.

Tea connection: Eugene & Belle – The Tea Urchin

I am delighted to share our tea connection with their latest publication about Tea, specifically Chinese Tea the process of tasting and grading Chinese teas. Just click on the title link below.

Cupping Tea- How to taste and grade Chinese teas



Tea Urchin website

Tea Urchin website




Tea webshop 

Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe

A request from TinYee for “What’s for dinner?”, how about a quick stir-fry tender chicken with broccoli florets flashing out of the wok onto a plate. Let’s not forget to write down the Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe and post it please :-).

If you’re cooking for a family or friends this is a healthy and tasty dish to serve on the table. Chinese stir-frying and Asian cooking is all about setting up for flash cooking.

Chicken Broccoli stir-fry recipe is an easy budget-friendly dish and a crowd pleaser. All the ingredients can be easily substituted with other meat cuts and greens in season. Pork, lamb, beef (even fish, see note) with vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, Pak Soi or Chinese cabbage. Versatile and ideal to mix vegetables of what is left in the refrigerator and needs to be finished


Quick, easy and economic no leftovers of ingredients, whether you cook Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry for 4 persons or make 4 meals ahead for your weekly meal plan. Start with the preparation, cutting up the ingredients in bite-size pieces. Season the thinly sliced meat quickly set aside. blanch the vegetables and quickly into an ice-bath. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Cut up broccoli florets or other vegetables in equal bite-size pieces. Blanch the vegetables, short and quickly into an ice-bath. This will stop the cooking process. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Chicken broccoli easy stir-fry recipe


Check the fridge if other ingrediënts can be chopped into the dish too. This help clearing and finishing into a colourful and healthy cooked meal. When stir-frying always add the hardest/toughest ingredients first and soft ingredients last into the wok.

Another Chinese stir-fry recipe is Flat beans with ground pork and bean sauce or try seafood suggestion Thai Red Curry Mussels Recipe.

Cooking notes:

  • This recipe is suitable to adapt for Keto, Paleo and diabetes diet.
  • For soy sauce gluten free options:
    • soy sauce choose tamari sauce (wheat free) as the closest substitution
    • Bragg liquid amino (purist would say nay because it’s not made with a natural fermentation but chemical process instead)
    • Coconut amino (a healthy soy substitute, made from coconut sap. It has a salty, slightly sweet flavour and is rich and dark in colour)
    • fish sauce (made from fermented fish/seafood although it is different it tastes as good). If there are none dietary restriction I often use both in cooking.
    • home-cook experiment, make your own instead. Will follow up soon with a discovery post.
  • Cooking oil
    • Olive oil use light, extra virgin is too heavy and will carry an after taste.
    • Sesame oil is only used for flavouring at the end, not intended for stir-frying, it burns too quickly and becomes bitter.
    • Coconut oil is mostly used in Keto and Paleo cooking.
  • Chicken seasoning powder in principle should be gluten free or use a vegetable powder as substitute
  • For vegan diet:
    • use fresh tofu
    • dried compressed soy flavour tofu
    • Tempeh (fermented soybeans)
    • Okara, when I make fresh soy milk the leftover soybean pulp is called Okara. Very nutritious and versatile to make pancakes or burgers.
    • Quorn
    • You can also buy a large variety mock soy meat packages at Chinese supermarkets.
  • Instead of meat, you can also substitute with fish fillets too. Coat the pieces in corn flour and fry them first, take out, continue with the recipe and add when almost done.
  • Cornstarch is what I standard use, next tapioca starch and tapioca flour or arrowroot.
  • Mushroom sauce (vegetarian) and oyster sauce are both used as extra flavour seasonings or omit.



AMT Seminar 26 March: The new middle class in China – who are they?


China Leiden China-gerelateerde lezingen en andere activiteiten aan de Universiteit Leiden

China Leiden
China-gerelateerde lezingen en andere activiteiten aan de Universiteit Leiden

AMT Seminar 26 March: The new middle class in China – who are they?Posted: 24 Mar 2014 08:04 AM PDTTime
15.00-17.00 hrs

Lipsius Building Room 148
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Everyone is welcome!


The new middle class in China

The new middle class in China – who are they? What are their dreams? What do they worry about? Can you be happy in a dictatorship? And how about sex?

Journalist and anthropologist Sybilla Claus writes for the Dutch daily newspaper Trouwabout East Asia. She will talk about two special projects she researched in China.

  1. Wherever you look, China is building apartment buildings. In 2020 there will be hundreds of cities with a million inhabitants. But who is living in all those flats? Sybilla Claus lived for a week in Tower XII of a new high-rise complex.
  2. Soul searching: the changing moral landscape.
    a. Chinese citizens are better off economically, and feel emotionally liberated. But can the modern Chinese be happy in a dictatorship?
    b. A sexual revolution is happening in China, of course in Red style. How do citizens find their (erotic) way between the do-nots of censorship?
    c. Chinese are world champions in hard working and making money – but spending it is a different story. Philantrophy and volunteer work are upcoming phenomena.





Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC)’s mission is to be an international centre of excellence for research on contemporary East Asia. MEARC aims to maximize the impact of East Asia research on stakeholders within and outside academia in the Netherlands and beyond. MEARC funds original research projects, serves as hub for academic and non-academic networks, organizes targeted dissemination events, and offers bespoke executive courses. MEARC’s expertise includes politics and international relations, and deep insight into the socio-cultural and economic dynamics of contemporary East Asia.


Herbal Gan Mao Cha cold remedy tea

Weather alone can’t make a person ill, but changes in weather are accompanied by a host of other changes that can give a person flu symptoms. Our body is used to function in a consistent environment. With the change of Season’s the temperature changes forcing our body to re-adapt. During this period our immune system can be vulnerable to contagious cold viruses or other infections.

The more reason to avoid the seasonal sniffles and have cold remedies at hand for me preferably herbal products. Herbal teas are my favourite way to ingest medicinally concoction either hot or at room temperature.

Herbal tea is a beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water, and usually, does not contain caffeine. Alternate popular terms for “herbal tea” are “tisane,” “botanical” and “herbal infusion.”


Amazing Oriental Supermarkets, a new arrival at the tea section, herbal brand “Four seasonal Instant Tea for Fever Relief & Cold“.  Just looking at the composition of the herbal ingredients list and the fact that it is an instant drink made me decide to purchase and try at home. Normally I would choose the medicinal dried herb mix packages. To brew herbal tea isn’t that difficult it only needs time to steep slowly to extract all the beneficial nutrients. If time is not at hand using a package of instant granules is a time saver.

Herbal Gan Mao Cha

I enjoy to drink Four Seasonal instant herbal tea and must say the medicinal herb complex works well for me, using two bags at the time. The nourishing herbs really aided to relieve my cold infections by reducing coughs and phlegm. The herbal tea has a minty sweetness and a slightly bitter aftertaste due to licorice but pleasant, you can always add a bit of honey extra in your mug. 

The bag contains 16 packages, just tear a package open add hot water in a mug, pour in the granules, stir and voilà. Easy does it! Promotion purchase forgot the exact amount “Instant tea for coughing” approximately € 3,75  that is cheaper than most standard medicines and cough syrups.

Holy molly, need to stock on these herbal instant tea fast.  Note: This is not a sponsored post, item is purchased for own personal use as healthy home treatment. Tested for my own benefit in speedy recovery. Try and use at your own discretion.

Gan Mao Cha beverage

Herbal instant tea

  • Product name: Four Seasonal Fever Relief & Cold tea instant herbal drink 四时 清热感冒茶 – 固体饮料
  • Description: Taken in the early stages of a cold or flu, this Chinese herb formula helps to alleviate the symptoms and shorten the duration of discomfort.
  • Herbal Tea Ingredients: White sugar, honeysuckle, Mulberry leaf, Peppermint, Herba lophatheri, Reed Rhizome, Radix platycodonis, Licorice.
  • Direction for use: 3 – 4 times daily, 1 -2 bags each time with hot boiled water.
  • Manufacturer: Guilin Gexianweng Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. China.
  • Nutritional value: Per serving 40 Kcal.
  • Price: approximately around € 3,75