Updated: Oct 13, 2020
It's 7:30 pm, and I've just finished dinner at a local Chinese Shumai restaurant in my neighborhood. Now, there's only one thing on my mind. Beijing snacks. There's something special about Beijing snacks. Perhaps it's because there's nowhere else in the world that does Beijing snacks better than Beijing. The snacks you find in Beijing will always satisfy the exact craving you're looking for. From sweet, savory, or sour, the snacks hit it. Beijing snacks aren't a new thing. They've been around for a long, long time. The oldest snack on the list dates back to almost 2,000 years ago! Get ready to take the tastiest bite out of history. Here are seven of my favorite Beijing snacks:
Sugar-coated Hawthorns on a Stick
Tang hulu (sugar-coated Hawthorns on a stick) is a popular traditional northern Chinese snack. These sweet and sour treats have been around since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The most traditional tang hulu is made using hawthorns, but you will also find different fruits like strawberries, cherries, and pineapples. I particularly love the hawthorn crunch with the tangy, sour, sweet taste fusion. This is a must-try if you find yourself in beautiful Beijing.
I have a love-hate relationship with dried fruit. The dried fruit in Beijing is so good; it's hard to stop eating it. Some of my favorites are the dried strawberries, oranges, apples, and the infamous dried mango. If you're looking for a sugar fruit kick, Beijing's dried fruit is your answer. It has been said that preserved fruit was popular in the Ming dynasty as a refreshing royal treat. For the more health-conscious, the more nutritious options are Jujubes and goji berries, which are broadly available citywide.
You will find Wheat cakes in small bakeries all around the city in Beijing. These small Chinese cakes make me drool at the thought of them. As you may have guessed, the cakes are made from wheat with red bean, cheese, and purple sweet potato fillings. At first bite, you will realize you've never tasted soft moistness like this. The filling is the icing on the cake. It will be hard to limit your wheat cake consumption, but I know you'll find a way! Wheat cakes are perfect.
Mung bean milk
Douzhi, also known as Mung bean milk, is traditional bean milk with a long history in Beijing. Mung bean milk goes back to the Liao dynasty (907-1125). Today, Beijingers enjoy drinking the traditional beverage for its rich nutrition, including high protein, vitamin C, and fiber. But be warned - It has got a bit of a pungent smell. If this tasty drink is to your liking, the nutritional benefits are worth it.
Glutinous Rice Ball
Aiwowo (glutinous rice balls) are a staple traditional Beijing dessert/ snack. Aiwowo is a classic Beijing snack with a long history. The outer skin is made with glutinous rice and flour with a chewy soft consistency. The filling is usually sweet using sesame, apricots, yam, or other varied natural ingredients. Aiwowo is the Muslim name as it's also an old Beijing Muslim snack. They are usually served warm and available at resultants between Lunar New Year and early autumn. They're also sold in supermarkets so that you can enjoy them all year!
Based on the list, one could figure out China is into foods stuffed with yummy goodness. Zongzi is another addition to not miss. It is a traditional food to eat during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is packed with flavor, fragrance, and history, too! Zongzi dates back more than 2,000 years and was made famous because of the Dragon Boat Festival in 475-221 BC. Zongzi mainly consists of the glutinous rice outer layer with different fillings such as red dates or beans. Zongzi is wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves for extra flavor. Different regions in China prepare this delightful treat in various manners.
Rice Krispies Treats
If you didn't think American Rice Krispies could get any better, wait till you try the Chinese rice krispies called Sachima. The Chinese rice krispies are made with fluffy Krispy fried batter bound together with sugar and syrup. These treats are historical, too, dating back to the Qing dynasty (1644AD- 1911 AD).
Beijing has more countless unique snacks not covered here. It's safe to say you'll be busy in the snack department during your great move abroad to Beijing!