After a very hot, tiring morning at Forbidden City we thought we would head to a restaurant close by for lunch. I had read about a restaurant that had real Beijing Peking Duck – one of the foods Beijing is famous for. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations which meant we would need to walk further to get to another restaurant. It was now nearing close to 2 p.m. and none of us had eaten since breakfast and we were starting to fade. The heat and humidity didn’t help. We stopped into a small grocery store and got some nuts and juice so that we wouldn’t pass out and continued on our way! After about 1 ½ hours of walking we arrived at the restaurant. I’m sure we looked like a sorry sight, red-faced with sweat dripping and backpacks in tow! The restaurant, on the other hand, looked rather elegant. There was a nice red carpet leading up to the door and you could see the chefs in the back with their tall paper hats working away. According to our reliable Lonely Planet guide, this restaurant is usually lined up out the door, but at 2:30 in the afternoon there was hardly anyone around! What luck!
The hostess was very kind and didn’t even turn down her nose at us but led us to a nice big table in the dining room. We then received a menu, with not an English word or Roman letter on it anywhere. We were too hungry to give up now though! I told Clay that according to my reading it was considered OK to look at what other people were eating and to motion that we would like what they have. He didn’t feel we were quite that desperate yet, however, and decided we should refer to the pictures in our menu. There was a nice picture inside the cover of a duck with some wraps, cucumber, and a few other things. We motioned for a waiter to come over and showed him this page, pointed to the four of us, and hoped for the best.
Within 10 minutes a duck showed up at our table, along with someone to carve it for us. He stood at a little table beside ours and carved up the duck onto plates. Then they brought several other little dishes of things to the table, none of which we really knew what to do with! I guess we looked pretty lost because a very kind and helpful hostess came over to the table and picked up a piece of duck with her chopsticks and showed us how to eat it with the cucumber, flower petal, onion, and sauce, nicely tucked into a wrap. Once she’d prepared one for each of us she left us to finish our meal. We were so grateful! And wouldn’t you know – the duck tasted amazing! Caleb said he thought this was his new favourite food! I think not having eaten for 7 hours may have had a little to do with it but I’m glad we all enjoyed it!