Beijing Night Market

Posted on by on July 21st, 2011 | 31 Comments ยป

When talking about night markets in China and creepy crawly snacks, the Donghuamen Night Market is what will be on everyones lips.

After reading about Donghuamen before leaving for China it was pushed up to the top of my “must do” list. As nightime fell on our second night in Beijing, we headed to off to explore the culinary delights it offered.

Located off the high end shopping street of Wangfujing, this culinary market boasts vendor after vendor selling some of the worlds most exotic street foods. Deep fried scorpions anyone? Or how about a seahorse on a skewer?

As you enter the market through the crowds of tourists gawking at the food offerings and locals scarfing down skewers of meat, you are imeadiately thrown into the world of exotic. The first vendor we
came across was screaming out “scorpions, scorpions, come to try”. Live scorpions skewered on a stick wiggled, still alive, sandwiched between sticks of seahorses and starfish. I cringed as my husband looked at me with a wide smile on his face. I knew what he was about to do. He was handed a bamboo skewer with 3 fried scorpions on it. He looked a bit nervous as a group of tourists gathered around to watch him eat it. He bit in. My husband. Just ate. Scorpion.

Across the way fruit kebobs with candy coating called out to the more faint of heart (myself), fried dough and buttery grilled corn and candied chestnuts lined the next few stalls, giving me a reprive from creepy crawlers. I decided on candy grapes. They looked much more appealing then scorpions and no matter what my husband says, I’m sure they tasted much better.

We walked further into the market as the crowds got thicker and the sky darker. Strung lights and paper lanters lit up the sky and we pointed at unusual looking creatures asking each other “what Is that? We heard vendors yelling out from each direction “lamb, sea cucumber, tarantulas”. Tarantulas? big black hairy tarantulas. I’m glad my husband didn’t want to stop to try one. Though I know the thought crossed his mind.

We tried tofu, chicken balls, scallion pancakes and lamb skewers. Passing up more exotic eats like silk worms, bats and centipedes.

We ducked down a small side alley off the main street to get a bit of breathing room from the crowds. The street was lined with the smallest of restaurants all beckoning you to come eat. We rested at one and enjoyed a beer and noodles as a Chinese opera singer sang from a nearby balcony.

Back to the market we made our way, my husband eager to try more exotic snacks. The tofu and lamb skewers weren’t doing it for him. Snake. He already bought a skewer before I even realized what it was. He held the skewer out to me. I suppose I can’t leave the Beijing night market without trying at least one thing I would usually never eat. I. Ate. Snake. As I bit into the meat, a Chinese man stopped and asked if he could take a photo of me eating it. The little American girl in Beijing eating snake. I suppose it was a sight to behold or maybe it was the disgusted look on my face that was picture worthy. Either way, I. Ate. Snake. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think will be making snake part if my regular diet, but I’m glad I mustered up the courage to try. And, now I can say “yeah, I ate snake, no biggy”.

We finished wandering around with a small stop for one last skewer. Do I dare even say what it was? Monkey. I know, I know, that is as close to human as you can get and morally I felt there was something just wrong with even entertaining the idea of eating it. My brother and father ate monkey unknowingly while in Vietnam, but I knew what I was about to eat. To be honest, with the one little bite I took I don’t even think it really was monkey.

The Donghuamen night market was unlike any market I have ever been to and an experience I will never forget. If ever in Beijing it is something I encourage everyone to see. Even if you go just to watch crazy people like me eat snake!

What’s the craziest thing you ever ate?

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31 Comments

  1. Posted on: 7-21-2011

    OMG is the only thing I can say right now Beth!!!! (but can’t help talking more. hehe) You are CRAZY! Yep, I’d be the one who watch and amaze how people eat these… lol. I’m really really impressed!!! It must have been a great experienced for you. Um.. the most weird thing I ate in my life is: deep fried bee, deep fried frog, and some kind of weird bird freshly cooked out of the cage (in Taiwan). Great post!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Nami! You have eaten your fair share of creepy things! Deep fried bee?! I would be too scared to eat that!!

  2. Dad
    Posted on: 7-21-2011

    after looking at the pictures of what you guys ate – i dont think i will eat much today. monkey ? you really ate monkey?

    be safe,

    love you both
    dad

  3. JT
    Posted on: 7-21-2011

    big. black. hairy. tarantulas.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      JT- I definitely didnt eat the big black hairy tarantulas!!

  4. Posted on: 7-21-2011

    guinea pig.
    Actually, it wasnโ€™t that bad, though it left a nasty aftertaste. I think I got the one whose diet consisted of rank gym socks and sewer water.

    http://www.shepaused4thought.com/Cathy/Blog/Entries/2011/7/13_figs_in_a_blanket…and_other_things_to_make_you_squeal..html

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Oh wow a guinea pig?! Cathy, where did you have the pleasure of such a meal?

  5. Posted on: 7-22-2011

    What a great post!!! And those pictures? I was truly like being there with you guys! Monkey?? I don;t think you can ever eat anything “weirder” than that!!!!

    The craziest things I have ever eaten are reindeer, kangaroo and crocodile… but they are not as strange as what you guys ate!!! hehehehe

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Manu, i ate crocodile once. Didnt taste much different then snake!

  6. Posted on: 7-31-2011

    I’m so glad I’m vegetarian! Looks like a great place to visit though, well done for having the ******* to try some disgusting stuff. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, I suppose!! Looking forward to your next post.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Natalie, this market is a good place to be a vegetarian!!

  7. Posted on: 8-3-2011

    3 cheers for being adventurous and when in China, anything can happen when it comes to food. Monkey without the “k” is good! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Chopinandmysaucepan, monkey without the k is much better!!

  8. Posted on: 8-20-2011

    HAHAH! My husband and I were there a few years ago with some friends of ours and we hit up this exact same market ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried the cicadas…that was about as daring as I dared to be. It was so much fun though. Your trip looks alot warmer than ours! We were there in December and that day in the market might be the coldest I’ve ever been in my ENTIRE life ๐Ÿ™‚

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-20-2011

      Parsley Sage, I cant believe you tried cicadas!! Thats pretty daring! It was really hot when we were there!!

  9. Posted on: 8-20-2011

    The other week I ate a (only one) snail and I felt very brave (well, I hate snails… even alive… in general I dislike anything softish, including oysters), but now I feel bottom of the class! :S
    Great trip pictures!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Giulia, I have actually never eaten snails! Everyone tells me to try escargot but I just cant do it! Maybe now I’ll be able to!

  10. Posted on: 8-20-2011

    Fabulous pictures of some of the scariest food ever…ehehehe. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What a great market.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Thanks Briarrose! Definitely the scariest food ever!!!!

  11. Posted on: 8-23-2011

    How did I miss this post??!! Amazing. Can’t wait to hear even more about it.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Katherine, you would think it would help me deal with the flying roaches here a little better. Not so much.

  12. Posted on: 8-23-2011

    Oh Beth I got to hand it to you..you are true adventurist!:)) Looks like you had great time while there, and your pictures speak for themselves..just wonderful post! By the way I never ever ate anything weird in my life..maybe I should turn my survival mode on:)))

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Thank you so much Sandra! Its totally not a bad thing never haven eaten anything weird! Trust me, I dont feel anymore better having eaten snake!!!

  13. Posted on: 8-25-2011

    Beth Michelle, these pictures are amazing! I totally felt like I was there with you… you’ve inspired me to be more ‘gastronomically brave’ !!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Thanks Tiffany! Let me know how long you feel brave for! Im already grossed out again by this stuff! haha

  14. Posted on: 8-26-2011

    Oh, you are BRAVE!!! And your hubby…well, extra brave! I so want to go to China…and these photos have me yearning again. Not that I’d ever be able to eat any of these exotic offerings…but to see, to feel, to experience! Thanks so much for sharing~

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-26-2011

      Thanks Liz! My husband is very brave, he will eat anything! He was looking forward to going to China just to try this kind of stuff!!!

  15. Posted on: 8-26-2011

    Looks like you had fun exploring Bejing! My parents have made two trips to China. I have yet to go, but the street food here is not something I would want to taste. Gives me the hee bee jee beez! Have a great weekend.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Tina! The food gave me the hee bee jee beez too but when your in the moment it changes!

  16. Posted on: 8-26-2011

    What a great snapshot of your trip to the market! Don’t think I could try the insects or the monkey but would be game for most everything else. Strangest thing I have eaten is escargot (snails) in a wonderful restaurant in Philadelphia and it was really good!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Fran! Im not into insects either! Ive never eaten escargot though I hear its amazing! I just havent been able to bring myself to eat snailsssss!

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