Wangfujing Street in central Beijing is a bustling commercial area. In early 2000, it was made a pedestrian street, the only one of its kind in the capital. Soon after food stalls were opened in the southwestern part of the street. All the food stalls there are built according to the architectural style of old Beijing.
An archway stands tall in front of the entrance to the street. Lining the street are stalls with so many appetizing snacks that one cannot try them all even if one goes to the street every day for several days. As the capital city, Beijing is the focal point for an assembly of the dishes from across the country. There is no Chinese delicacy you cannot find in Beijing.
One of the first sounds you’ll hear are the clapboards or “Yaohe.” This is how vendors advertise their wares. In order to attract customers, they had to make a bit of noise. The different snacks from across China all have their own unique “Yaohe”!
That’s the ‘Yaohe’ for kebab vendors from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
That’s the ‘Yaohe’ for boiled sheep’s head. The vendor says his food is the best and you will be sorry if you don’t try this dish.
This is the “Yaohe” of quick boiled tripe. The vendor sings that quick boiled tripe is Beijing’s traditional taste and that people all return for more.
If you’re not a native Beijinger or a real gourmet, it’s very difficult to tell which is which, or describe the taste and where it’s from! Yet, all the vendors will help you to choose from such a great variety. Xiao Luo sells Luzhuhuoshao, and he explains what this is:
“Luzhuhuoshao is pot stewed pig's intestine with baked wheat cakes. There’re three liangs of pig’s intestine and two liangs of pig’s lung in it. It’s a little bit salty and hot. And although it’s made of pig’s entrails, it’s not greasy at all.”
Xiao Luo told us the reason why he rents a stand in Wangfujing snack street is because of the huge numbers of visitors that have helped his business thrive:
“Wangfujing has become world famous as not only an ideal place for shopping in Beijing, but also for traditional Chinese snacks. That’s why initially I chose to start my business here. I’m very busy. Every day I have to greet hundreds of customers from all over the country and across the world. In the morning, I have to get all the materials ready and prepare the food with my family. It’s a tough job, but my business here is stable, and I’m making a pretty good living.”
What do the visitors think about snack street? Zhang Jianguo is a tourist from Hunan Province in south China. What attracts him most is the architectural style of the street:
“I love the place, especially the houses. They’re very Chinese. It’s quite rare nowadays to find such traditional buildings in other parts of the country. The food is also great. I was surprised to find that they tasted very much like my mother’s home made dishes. You know even in Hunan, these foods are disappearing from our meal tables.”
Liang Xiaogang is from Hubei Province. He said the prices of those snacks are generally reasonable:
“At first I thought places like this might be very expensive. Yet actually the prices aren’t too bad. I think you can have a really good time here for about 40 Yuan - the price of a McDonald’s’ or KFC, however the Chinese food is far more interesting.”
John and Pierre are from France. Let’s hear their impression of Wangfujing snack street:
“It’s very good, everything! I’m like a Cantonese and can eat everything. At least I know what I am eating. In the restaurants, I don’t know what I will be served. So it’s quite good.”
“Here I think it’s quite clean for such a market. It’s quite clean compared with other countries.”
(China Radio International July 25, 2002)