Bean and Rice Soup
Chengdu: City of Gastronomy #6
豆汤米饭 – Dòu tāng mǐfàn
This is pretty straight forward – beans and rice cooked in a broth. It’s a simple but healthy soup. While it doesn’t sound like much, but your body will thank you.
Hmmm. Bean soup rice. I can’t say I was excited to have this for lunch, but it turned out to be a pretty tasty meal.
Dòu tāng mǐfàn literally means ‘bean soup cooked rice’. It’s made with some sort of pea. Although, different restaurants will use different kinds of beans. The broth will also vary. People in Sichuan eat this because it’s healthy. If you’re under the weather, this is the chicken noodles soup for Chinese souls.
The key to a great bowl of dou tang mifan is the broth. Look for places that have a large pot simmering out front. Don’t be afraid to have a sniff of the broth. You might see some stems or leaves floating in it. It’s not from a nearby tree – it’s likely for flavor, or for some added health benefits. Chinese medicine sometimes plays a part in Chinese food, and this dish is an example of it. It feels and tastes like a healthy dish. I think it would be a great meal if you are feeling sick in China.
Because I care less about health than I do about shoving tasty things in my head, I also get a Sichuan style guo kui (锅盔), a stuffed flatbread with spicy numbing beef. They’re made fresh daily using a flipping dough technique that layers the pastry before they’re shallow fried in oil until crisp. It’s a very popular street food in Sichuan, and it goes great with a bowl of soup. They’re similar to (and possibly inspired by) lahmajoun, the Turkish pizza. You’ll find stands selling these outside of many soup shops. That’s no coincidence. They go great with a bowl of soup. I like to dip it in the broth and eat it as the soup cools.
Before my lunch, I went to my favorite place to get a shave in China. It’s not much to look at – in fact it might seem a bit scary – but I’ve been there many times and I always walk out with an amazingly close shave. I’ve been shaved all over Asia, and this old couple takes the time to do a good job more than any other place I’ve been. The 10 minute or so shave only costs 5 RMB (about 75 cents).