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 |

Oliebol, typical Dutch food or an ignoramus

A traditional food tradition on “Oudejaarsavond” or New Year’s Eve is to munch on a pastry aka Dutch doughnut. A typical Dutch old fashioned golden-fried dough spheres plain or filled with currants, raisins called “Oliebol or Oliebollen plural form.

In character sold at food stalls called “Oliebollenkraam”, bakeries or special food trucks with other delicacies e.g. apple fritters named “Appelbeignets” next to “Berlinerbollen”, again fried dough, flat oval shaped and filled with a fruit jam or custard and much more.

In reality, the fried doughnut could vary enormously in taste, flavour and presentation. At times a far cry to be named a perfect oliebol but being literally an unworthy blob of gunk, the double meaning of oliebol translates as a greaseball.

Hence, the jokingly rib often cried in exasperation of a person being an ignoramus “oliebol”.

Oliebol as a favourite traditional pastry snack mostly munched in the weeks heading towards the countdown or occasionally at carnival fairs throughout the rest of the year.

We like nothing more than a perfect oliebol being crispy, moist and flavoursome. With intervals, the oliebol quality varied greatly which inevitably led to a popular yearly nationwide contest to find the best oliebol.

Oliebollen revanche

Oliebollen revanche 28 December 2015

The popular 23rd edition of the Oliebollentest 2015 held by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD). This year 164 contestants from various cities across the country were listed, reviewed and published in Uitslag AD Oliebollentest. More than 39 vendors scored an 8 or higher, click on the list to view whether the top 25 vendors are near you to satisfy your olliebollen appetite. Those who didn’t make the cut have vouched for revanche in the upcoming test for the title or top listing, which invites for another round of tasting 2016.

More than 39 vendors scored an 8 or higher, click on the list to view whether the top 25 vendors are near you to satisfy your olliebollen appetite. Those who didn’t make the cut have vouched for revanche in the upcoming test for the title or top listing, which invites for another round of tasting 2016.

Oliebollen 201512_1

Oliebol, Dutch traditional doughnut pastry

Yesterday we joined family and friend celebrations at two different homes while devouring very tasty Oliebollen, also the first bites of this winter season. Unbeknownst to us, the delicacies were from vendors listed in the top five places.

Their origin was revealed as #2 Bakkerij Olink, Maarssen and #6 Bakkerij Vliegendehond, Wolvega. Truth to be told the “oliebollen” were fantastic, beautiful golden colour, crispy on the outside with a nice airy crumb bit moist without being soggy nor greasy. Fruity aroma flavour of currants and raisins without being overly sweet, often they are sprinkled with icing sugar on top.

For Dutch food lovers and language learners in search of authentic food, you can find an English recipe version by clicking this link olliebollen en appelflappen.

Update 8th January 2016

I just stumbled upon one of my culinary forums on an old thread regarding oliebollen, a highly recommended recipe post “Bollen bakken” on Eetschrijven blog by Gerrit Jan Groothedde, Dutch culinary journalist. A recipe translation will be added here shortly.

The blog post with recipe starts with a friendly but adamant request after baking the delicious Oliebollen, to keep them warm or reheat by setting the oven on 100°C/212F for 15-20 min. to keep the delicacies warm and crisp.

I have to concur with his advice, if possible, to avoid the microwave this will only disintegrate flavour and taste of the oliebollen. Also not to pair fine glass Champagne but perhaps a better fit would be beer instead if alcohol is a must.

Eaten as a snack, lunch or whenever you fancy with a nice cup of tea or coffee makes it perfect too.

Eet Smakelijk en Gelukkig Nieuwjaar – Enjoy and a Happy Newyear!

Spicy Hare or Rabbit Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Who would have guessed at a food swap, having a great coffee talk I would end up joining wild game groups on the net and near the woods (no I don’t hunt). My curiosity has introduced me to otherwise unknown wild game gourmets of cooks and hunters.

It didn’t take too long to buy a fresh wild rabbit/hare directly from a hunter and before I arrived home I decided to prepare Sichuan style version. With the infamous dried peppers ‘Hua jiao‘ 花椒粒 and ‘La jiao’ 辣椒乾 (literal translation is flower pepper kernels and dried Sichuan chilli).

Both are very distinctive spices not easily replaced if you want to add a particular heat and aroma.

Hua jiao & La Jiao

Hua Jiao Flowerpepper and La Jiao Sichuan whole pepper


These ingredients are not common in supermarkets or deli stores. I have added the images for recognition. So you know what to search for at the Chinese supermarkets or Asian Toko’s.

Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil is an infused aromatic oil, made of grounded Sichuan chilli peppers (la jiao) and flower pepper (Hua jiao) to flavour the oil together with other spices. Used as a finish in many stir-fries, swirled on top of noodle soups and an integral part in marinades for spicy appetisers.

A part of my last batch ended up as food gifts so I need to refill and stock up my own pantry soon. Making the oil is not for the fainthearted because using and stir-frying peppers will release a very pungent sensation and can irritate the skin and eyes.

Conveniently store bought works as well, you can find these at the supermarkets/Toko’s. Shop for the standard Chilli oil look for an aromatic Sichuan version on the shelf.

Aromatic oils; Homemade SiChuan hot pepper chilli oil and Sesame oil

Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil


Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil 

As with buying sesame oil, for advanced gourmet sleuths, they enjoy cooking with various oils for blending or cooking purposes. Buy small bottles once open use it quickly or it can turn rancid. Note of caution, sesame oil is not intended for frying, but only quick sauté for example to fragrance a dressing or sauce at the end of cooking.

Spicy Hare or Rabbit in Chinese Food Therapy

In my childhood rabbit meat was a staple ingredient and prepared by my parents in many dishes; stir-fries, stews, and herbal soups often paired with traditional Chinese medicine. The latter to make a tonic with the purpose of strengthening and nourishing the body. Cooking with Chinese herbs is about recuperating the body and rabbit meat is well known for its high protein content.

In Chinese dietic therapy; “According to TCM food, like medicine can be divided into the characteristics cold-hot-cool-warm. When applied correctly nutritional ingredients can help the patient to overcome an inclination to or even a manifested disease. Food used to aid and act as preventive part of a nourishing diet can achieve the same goal to strengthen recovery process”.

For more information on the use of tonics and food therapy, click on the links. Browse the internet for more in-depth TCM information and/or elaborate search on practices and belief system.

Rabbit or Hare meat is considered foods with warming qualities, high protein level and the temperature was cold. The more reason altogether to add spice in this wild game stir-fry dish bringing it all in balance.

A few days later I posted food pics of my Sichuan style cooked spicy hare dish just for fun between all other social media posts. The food pics picked up attention with a request to share the recipe and preparation method. Instead of a wild rabbit, hare, you can make this dish with other meats as well, for e.g. lamb would be very nice with the peppers, capsicum, and daikon (rettich/white carrot or aka daikon).

Here is the recipe link Spicy Hare stir-fry regional Sichuan style – Recipe.

Vietnam Paper Flower Art revived

Vietnam Paper Flower Art revived, always interesting to learn about an old craft anew and share about Vietnamese Lifestyle and Culture.

Thanh Tien Village switched from growing real flowers to making artificial ones three centuries ago, but the craft disappeared for almost 50 years. Phuoc Buu tells the story of a remarkable revival of the art and in the fortunes of those who revived it.

Elders in Thanh Tien usually shake their heads in some puzzlement as they tell the story of how their village became famous for making paper flowers.

For them, it is a tale with surprising twists and turns, but they are more confident now that an art they acquired over hundreds of years can have a stable future.

The story begins in the 16th century with the founding of the village on a stretch of land along the Huong (Perfume) river in the lower part of Hue.

Read the full original story here via Boom, bust and blooming again – Features – VietNam News. Photo credit source: VNS Photos Le Huy Hoang Hai

Picture perfect: A little girl lends a hand as artist Than Van Huy arranges a vase of paper lotus flowers in the backyard of his house. — VNS Photo Le Huy Hoang Hai

Vietnamese Artist Than Van Huy arranges a vase of paper lotus flowers in the backyard of his house. Photo source: VNS Photo Le Huy Hoang Hai

Yang Yongliang exhibition 2014 at Sophie Maree Gallery 1 March – 19 April

Today is the opening of Yang Yongliang solo exhibition at Sophie Maree Gallery, The Hague. From 1 March till 19 April 2014, Opening Times: Wednesday to Saturday 12.00 – 17.00.

Yang Yongliang 楊泳樑 born 1980 in Jiading, Shanghai is a Chinese contemporary artist.

“Yang has exhibited in group and solo shows around the world. In 2012, his work was included in “The Printed Image in China, 8th–21st Century“ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.” Read his interview with Art Radar Asia, titled:“Tearing down the past to build the future”.

Yang Yongliang solo exhibition 2014 © Yang Yongliang courtesy Sophie Maree gallery, The Hague.

Yang Yongliang solo exhibition 2014
© Yang Yongliang courtesy Sophie Maree Gallery, The Hague.

As a young student studied traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy before attending the Shanghai Art & Design Academy, where he specialised in decoration and design beginning in 1996. In 1999 he attended the China Academy of Art, Visual Communication Department, Shanghai branch. In 2005 he started his career as an artist with the stated goal of “creating new forms of contemporary art. During the time many experimental short films and artworks had been nominated and prized. Many of his articles were published in various magazines in the field. His book “Grand Church” was published as a teaching material. 

Yang Yongliang creates his photographs using a digital camera. His many views of the cityscape are used as the building blocks for his works. The computer is his tool. He extends his digital photographic ‘landscapes’ to create video/digital animations. In Yang Yongliang’s video work, “Phantom Landscape”, the viewer encounters what appears to be a landscape painting. The mountains are composed of densely packed concrete buildings. The forest is composed of construction cranes and electric towers, and misty streams flow from contaminated urban waste. The scene that once was the inspiration for ancient poets is supplanted by a congested cityscape, filled with the too familiar concrete towers of modern cities and the atmospheric haze of pollution has replaced natural mists and clouds. 

Sophie Maree Gallery - Contemporary Art

Sophie Maree Gallery – Contemporary Art

Sophie Maree Gallery

Muriel Mager and Ronald Schmets

Adress: Hellingweg 96D

2583 HD Den Haag, The Netherlands

Contact information:

0031 (0)614794219
0031 (0)70 3060681

Opening Times: Wednesday to Saturday 12.00 – 17.00



Heritage at Pattaya Floating Market (2)

The existence of floating markets in the old days throughout Thailand life was centred on the river, canals and people lived at the banks, so merchants with their products in small boats came floating to their customers. The whole idea of recreating this floating market is an initiative to bring the four areas of Thailand together, displaying their traditional culture and produce. The heritage buildings are built as a representation according to the various styles of homes in the North, East, South and West of Thailand.Entrance is free, you can just wander around the shops and eat. That is actually the best part, sampling food items without too much travelling and if that makes you tired you can take a relaxing foot- or Thai body massage or just sit at the many benches to relax.

Entrance is free, you can just wander around the shops and eat. That is actually the best part, sampling food items without too much travelling and if that makes you tired you can take a relaxing foot- or Thai body massage or just sit at the many benches to relax.

While visiting bus loads of tourists were being dropped straight from Bangkok or coming from Pattaya centre, the whole park is largely setup functioning as an escape from the congested cities. We were better off than the tourist group excursions their visit was timed, with intervals regular announcements filled the air calling the visitors to rush back into the bus for the next attraction.

We spontaneously decided to extend our visit, enjoyed a fantastic lunch and due to the rain we willingly seated ourselves in the reclining chairs for a foot-massage closing our eyes comfortably swaying slightly due to the waves of the lake and boats.

Actually, I would dare to say that it’s much more fun to visit the Floating Market at South Pattaya than the Damneun Saduak in Bangkok, which receives much criticism these days due to the dilapidated state it is in now. Which is why the tourist buses are heading this way to get a glimpse of Thailand heritage.

Click on the official Thai webpage Pattaya floating market for information. Open daily from 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Floating Market new attraction south of Pattay (1)

Most probably you have heard of Pattaya being mentioned as a night-life City, well that was true in the past. If you are willing to pass the label there’s more to discover, in fact, there are actually sightseeing places and activities absolutely worth the visit which will capture and hold your attention. In an earlier post about Dongtan and Nongmaii Beach Pattaya, I had made reference to Pattaya’s administration working hard on a better image and it’s best to promote the City as a family destination.

One of the projects we basically have watched being built from a distance, an artificial lake just south of Pattaya on Sukhumvit Road. This has now become one of the largest attraction is known as Pattaya Floating Market. Since its opening, two years earlier we actually entered the premises for the first time bringing guests along. According to our local friends the buildings have weathered down due to monsoons, humidity and being fully operational it has acquired now an even more authentic look. As for our company as first timers, they liked the introduction very much as genuine with traditional and cultural shows, products, boats and all other shops with wares and fares on display for sale.

For a glimpse, just click on the images for a larger view and if it draws your attention to read and see more click on the link “Heritage at Pattaya Floating Market“.