Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part III

Two of my very favourite things about Beijing were walking along The Great Wall on one of the most beautiful days of our whole trip and eating delicious vegan food at SUHU Vegetarian Tiger. Visiting The Great Wall had been on my travel wish list for quite some time and I was super excited to plan our day trip out there. We really did choose an amazing day, the sky was blue, there was no smog hanging around, and it wasn't too hot. It was basically perfect and I'll tell you more about it right after I show you the delicious eats from Suhu Vegetarian Tiger! 


Nick and I ate at Suhu quite a few times during our stay in the city and I would highly recommend it. The menu is large and varied, the front section of the menu is where the larger more expensive dishes are to be found but if you're travellers on a budget like us you'll want to flip towards the back of the menu where the staple dishes are located.

The staple dishes have smaller portions, remember that Chinese people often eat family style, but are still plenty large enough if you add a side to share. They are also on the simpler end of the spectrum. This was particularly great for me because there seemed to be less Szechuan food in that section and when you have a chilli allergy Szechuan is definitely a no-go. The other great thing about Suhu's menu is that it's full of pictures meaning that it was actually very easy for me to avoid chilli.

One of my most ordered dishes was the wonton soup which is a delicate, flavourful, filling, and cheap option - all plusses in my book. The main flavours were toon and coriander which are two of my absolute favourite ways to season a soup. 



I first tried toon in Taiwan at Veggie Creek and it always brings memories of one of my favourite places flooding back. Another great soup option for those of us who don't love / can't do chilli is the Shezu Style Noodle Soup which is another filling, flavourful, and spice free option.


Moving on from soups to tasty fried foods hat cake is one of my new favourite things ever. It's a large crispy, pancakey, doughy delight probably meant for sharing with your family but Nick and I would nail half of it and then get the rest to go because it totally worked cold and we were always struggling to find breakfast. Oh and I didn't actually wear it like a hat because I'm a grown up and Suhu is a classy place but I can assure you that it is genuinely hat sized. 


Now onto our absolute favourite dish the sweet 'n sour pork. Now I'm super fussy about sweet 'n sour - it really has to be spot on for me to enjoy it and I'm here to tell you that in my opinion this is the best ever sweet 'n sour faux pork in the world. It wasn't too sweet, the sauce was nice and sticky and the faux meat was filling without being too heavy. This dish makes a great leftovers sandwich when paired with hat cake if you can bear to leave any on the plate. 


Dessert is an area in which a lot of Beijing restaurants are lacking but not Suhu, here we were able to choose between egg custard tarts, pineapple cake, and tiramisu. All great options and all delicious but I'd say that the tarts and the pineapple cakes were the true standouts. The egg custard tarts have little pieces of papaya inside and are freshly cooked to order so expect to wait around 25 minutes for them to arrive and another 5 for them to be cool enough to eat. The pineapple cakes weren't as amazing as the ones we ate at Vegan Heaven in Taipei but like toon they were another flavour that brought memories of that trip flooding back.



Top tip - Order your desserts at the same time as your other food. At restaurants in China it may be hard to get someone's attention to get the menu a second time if you don't speak the language.

As you can see Suhu Vegetarian Tiger is a must eat in Beijing. They have two locations, one in the Fullink Plaza mall on the east of the city which is easy to get to on the subway (take line 2 or line 5) and one in the northwest corner of the city in the University District. We went there on the bus from the Summer Palace which was pretty easy using Apple Maps to guide us and the Summer Palace is definitely somewhere I'd recommend checking out if you like quieter parks or messing around in pedal boats. 

I would highly recommend packing a picnic if you're going to be heading out to The Great Wall, if you're doing it right it's going to take the whole day so pack some takeout from Suhu, some snacks from Beijing's vegetarian shop, and some crisps and biscuits from 7/Eleven. There are a few options available if you're planning on heading to The Great Wall from Beijing. Some are easy to get to but crowded (Badaling for example) and some are super remote and peaceful but very challenging to get to often requiring an overnight stay like Jiànkòu. We didn't have a tonne of time so we decided to go to Mùtiányù which falls somewhere in the middle. To get there you need to get up early and head to Dongzhimen bus station where you'll catch the the 916 Fast bus towards Huáiróu. You'll want to find the Chinese character for fast online (see this wikitravel page) because otherwise you might end up on a slower bus. You hop off at Mingzhu Guangchang (you'll need to know this in Chinese too), cross the road, and catch the H23 or H24 bus to the wall. You'll spend a lot of time dodging touts who'll tell you that there are no busses, that the bus you want is cancelled and that really you need to take their taxi / minibus. This is all a lie but it would be easy to be fooled especially as they've removed all of the signage for bus number H23 / H24 from the bus stop! You will also need to ignore the tout that gets on the first bus (apparently often dressed as a bus driver) at Nanhua Shichang bus stop and tried to convince you to get onto an expensive minibus. We decided to wait it out at the bus stop with some other local and western tourists and it took around 45 minutes but the H23 finally arrived and it was well worth the wait as the public bus costs 4RMB / 45p / 58¢ as opposed to the mini busses that cost 50RMB / £5.65 / $7.25.


Once you're at the wall site you need to purchase tickets and walk through an area full of shops and restaurants until you reach a bus stop that'll take you to the bottom of the wall. From there you need to decide whether to take the cable car up to turret number 14 or to walk up to turret number 10. 


We decided to walk because it's free and I was feeling energetic. I also really like to take advantage of days when I don't have any joint pain that would make that kind of walk impossible. I remember when I was at my most sick before my Colitis and allergy diagnoses - I couldn't walk around San Francisco at all, Nick and I had to take busses and trams everywhere, remembering that helps me to push myself out of my comfort zone now that I'm (mostly) better so we walked the 4000 steps.

Before leaving the UK I got a pair of Vegetarian Shoes Approach Mid Boots and aside from getting to and from the airport this was the first time that I'd worn them properly. I decided to get some boots for hiking in China and for volunteering at the farm sanctuary in Australia and I chose these partly because they're lightweight, breathable, and waterproof, and partly because they're made in Europe by a small, local, ethical vegan business.


When I tried them on in the store I was sure that they were the boots for me because they felt super comfortable despite not being a style of shoe that I'm used to and after basically breaking them in on The Great Wall I can say that they are indeed ridiculously comfy - there wasn't a blister in sight at the end of the day and I was more than happy to wear them again the next morning. If you'd like to read more about the boots check out my previous blog post about my time volunteering at Farm Animal Rescue in Queensland, Australia.


As you can see from my pictures The Great Wall is ridiculously epic and I use that in the truest sense of the word rather than in my usual hyperbolic way. The view from the top is well worth the effort of the hike. I was truly blown away and would recommend this section of the wall to anyone wanting to get quieter Great Wall experience.


Lastly, because I love them and am currently in some kinda cat desert, here's a picture of the lovely fluffy kitty I spent some time stroking on my way back down from the wall. There are some stray cats and dogs living near the top end of the cable car, just near the toilets by turret 15, so if you swing by make sure to take some time to show them some love.


This post was sponsored in part by Vegetarian Shoes. All opinions are both unbiased and 100% my own. 

10 comments:

  1. I used to love wonton soup and have only found one vegan version ever. Your meal looks delicious! Also the sweet and sour faux pork. I'm so used to seeing the Americanized versions which are a very scary orange/red color. Yikes.
    The pictures from the Great Wall are breathtaking. I can only imagine actually being there.
    Always take time to show kitties love!

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    1. I've had wonton soup a few times but only in Asia. The Great Wall was seriously breathtaking, I'm not really sure my photos do it justice.

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  2. What an adventure!!! Those blue skies are so gorgeous and it looks like such an amazing trip to the Great Wall. Those soups look incredible and the sweet and sour faux pork also looks delicious. Total side note but your hair color is gorgeous!!!

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    1. It was such a beautiful day! And thank you for the hair compliment, it's a little faded now so I think I need to break out the dye again.

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  3. I really want some of those shoes, it is so hard to find good walking shoes! If only I didn't have ridiculously shaped feet and could order shoes online.

    The Great Wall does look truly amazing. And I am impressed that you did all those steps! Though given the choice between lots of stairs and a terrifying cable car, I know what I would choose!

    That hat cake looks so good. I want it.

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    1. They're pretty great boots, maybe there are some stores selling Vegetarian Shoes boots somewhere in Aus? What about that vegan clothing store in Melbourne?

      Also I can't lie, the terrifying cable car definitely played into my decision making.

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  4. Yeeeeah! That hat cake thing looks so stunning and I want to be eating it right NOW. I did, at least, just eat a huge portion of cherries from the farmer's market, so I"m not suffering too much. You are definitely eating much, much better than I managed to eat on my tour group experience. We also went to the Great Wall, and I was so glad that they gave us several hours to roam and explore and be on our own. I was feeling fit that day too, and I went way, way up. The entry point where we parked was fairly busy, but most folks seemed to stay quite close to that point. Within a steep climb or two, I was practically on my own. It was pretty great.

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    1. I love it when you get that little bit of solitude at a busy tourist spot and I'm pleased to hear that you were able to spend some time roaming around the Great Wall with Musty.

      PS - I'm a little envious of your cherries! Fruit's pretty expensive at the grocery stores here in Australia so I'm mainly sticking to the essentials like bananas, apples, and satsumas.

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  5. Omg, vegan egg custard tarts! I miss those! I'm definitely going to bookmark those shoes, they look perfect for Swedish winters & I think I'm due a new pair next winter.

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    1. The boots are holding up super well. I spilt a bucket of water over my feet yesterday and my feet stayed dry!

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