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[personal profile] ximen

I was going to write a post talking about Beijing, but I am tired out from my morning trip to the health clinic. The Travel Health Clinic is outside the 5th Ring Road (more on that when I get around to that Beijing post), and getting there took me nearly an hour, with subway, bus, and walking all taking about a third of that. The best part was when I overshot the clinic by half a block and started to walk into the police barracks instead– the half-asleep officer on duty took one look at me and nearly jumped through the window to ask where I was going.

As far as I know, I am perfectly healthy, or as healthy as anyone can be breathing the air of China’s 9th most polluted city (note to self: order those respirators soon, even if they do make you look like a cyborg). So why was I getting up early to take my perfectly healthy self to the doctor? Because China doesn’t trust us dirty foreigners not to spread disease around its fair (if polluted) cities. So anyone wanting to study or work in China needs a health certificate, which means spending a morning and 400 RMB (about $65) getting poked and prodded by various nurses. This morning I had a chest X-ray, an ECG, two blood draws, an eye exam, a fever scan, a blood pressure test, and some random poking that I assume produces valuable medical data. I’ll know in a week whether I am healthy enough to stay.

Despite my grumbling, and the long commute, I don’t really mind this requirement, but since you’re not allowed to eat on the morning of the test, I was pretty cranky and somewhat dizzy by the end of it. So I decided that I had earned a good lunch that day, and tried out the tiny dumpling place right next to my housing complex. It was not an ideal time to do so– the place was juggling multiple large delivery orders, and clearly isn’t really geared toward lunchtime. The selection was limited to pork dumplings with a surprise veggie, which turned out to be some kind of greens that tasted like dill. The dumplings were frozen, not freshly-wrapped, but the filling was good and they had clearly been made by hand. Plus it cost me 8 yuan (~$1.50) for ten dumplings. Afterwards I had a matcha shake with some red bean paste added.

That evening, my roommate and I spotted a 生煎包 place. Shengjian bao are cousins to the more popular xiaolong bao, aka soupy dumplings. Xiaolong bao are steamed inside a delicate dumpling skin, while shengjian bao are wrapped in a more bread-like exterior and pan-fried with sesame seeds. This makes them crunchy and chewy on the outside, with a soft pork filling and the same broth inside that make xiaolongbao so delicious. Both kinds are southern specialties, so I wasn’t entirely sure if a place this far north would do them right. Fortunately, they did. We got two orders of jian bao, and two steamers of xiaolong bao, and both were great. The xiaolong bao weren’t as good as the ones I’ve had in Shanghai, but the shengjian bao could hold their own even down south. We will definitely be back! And if any of you come visit, I’ll take you there and you can judge for yourself.

Cross-posted from Archives and Stuff.

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