We’ve been experiencing food trouble lately. Fear (of what we may get) and inability (menus in Chinese with no pictures) to order at many places has led us to eating a limited variety of cuisine since we left Hong Kong. Bakeries, corner stores, street vendors (noodles and buns), and, yes, western fast food, had sadly become our daily fare. It’s not that things are necessarily bad, we’ve had some really great bread and stuffed buns (baozi) from little places here and there, but this is China—there is so much more out there to be eaten! Well, tonight we tapped into the gold mine. Actually, it was more like my friend, Jeff, tapped the mine. Matt and I just got to enjoy the results. Jeff’s an old friend from college who’s been living in Qingdao for the past year teaching English and making music (LINK). He graciously came out to meet us at our hostel, and from here we walked just down the hill to a BBQ restaurant. Qingdao, being right on the coast, is known for its seafood. Wonderfully fresh seafood as in so fresh that at the market today the clams were still so feisty they were squirting water out of their bins. And, apparently, in the summer many places set up a grill outside. BBQ and seafood: the best of the best. After picking a restaurant, we took our seats and Jeff began to order for us. The only things I knew he ordered were grilled pork and beer. He and the waiter exchanged a quite a few words though, so I assumed a few other things were coming as well.
What ended up coming was a feast. First a plateful of little clams arrived. Delicious. Then came a tray piled with pork kebabs. Nice and juicy. Another tray of larger clams. Steamed cabbage with pork. Grilled peppers. Two pitchers of beer…oh wait, the guy was getting ready to pour another one. Jeff rushed outside to tell him two was plenty, realizing that “three big cups” meant three pitchers. Grilled green onions arrived. “Be sure you chew them well,” Jeff warned. We were busy enjoying the hot, juicy, and perfectly seasoned food when we saw the waiter walking towards our table with a large BBQ squid. More food, and we’d hardly made a dent in what we already had. The squid was a tasty addition, though, and we kept on eating. One more squid (maybe two? It was hard to tell because it was cut up) arrived. We pushed on. After our day of snacking, such an excellent meal was a great finish to the day. Even now I can’t really describe the food very well, except to say that it was very good and there was a lot of it. Replayed memory does a better job of envisioning the feast, so I guess you’ll just have to come to Qingdao to see for yourself how good the BBQ can be.