Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peking Duck

I was going to title this post "Peking Duck in Beijing" but realized how stupid that would be. As my brain is not at its best currently, it'll be amazing if I make it through this post without spelling, grammar, and logical errors.

Last week was sleepless (a few hours a night) and mentally exhausting. We were running so late that we rescheduled our Thursday afternoon flight to early Friday morning, which meant that I got home around 3 a.m. and then had to be out the door at 6 a.m. to make my flight. Ridiculous.

Got to Incheon Airport around 7, had breakfast with my co-workers and fellow travelers, got on the plane, and conked out for an hour. Because our flights were last-minute, we ended up all sitting in center seats. Not that it mattered, because we didn't have the wherewithal to make conversation with each other anyway.

That would be Incheon Airport, a photo that I took very groggily. I rather like this airport. We landed at Gimpo Airport upon our return to Korea. I haven't been to that airport since I was a child, and it was a little bit weird to see how small the airport was. I had always thought it was massive, since I'd only seen it as a child.

Orange Hotel, our hotel- it's in the Wangjing area of Beijing. Wangjing really is the Koreatown of Beijing. There are tons of signs that are in Korean, lots of businesses that accommodate Korean speakers, and it's easy to find Korean food.

We landed in Beijing on Friday morning, went into the post-production facility for a bit to get some work done, went to the hotel to drop off our stuff, and then went out for lunch. There are a couple guys that work in Beijing that are Korean (one is Korean-Chinese and one is Korean, but has lived in China for several years now). They both know my co-workers that I went with, because the visual effects industry in Korea and China is tiny and everyone knows everyone, so the Korean-Chinese guy took us to lunch, insisting that we have Peking duck because I've never had it before and because it's obviously something that one does in Beijing.
You know how people use red and gold as symbolic colors for China? I thought it was always overwrought and people should stop being so stereotypical ... until I actually went to China. Red and gold really are used almost everywhere.
Before the duck came all kinds of yummy things. This was pretty much kung pao chicken, but better and with more complex flavors. Chinese food in China is a very different experience than Chinese food in the States or in Korea.

Then came a fancy salad. I think I was told that it was a peach pit salad (?!) but I didn't taste anything pit-y. I had no idea what I was eating, but it was good. Too much dressing, perhaps, though over-dressing salads is so common in Korea that I'm getting used to it (and don't ask for dressing on the side, they'll think you're weird).

Sizzling hot eggplant. This was quite good. I like eggplant, but I really like eggplant that is seasoned well and not cooked into mush. I find that I seek out vegetables more and more (I don't know why that is ... my old age?) and this was really a good vegetarian dish.

Our little ducky came with his own carver. She was really fast with that huge knife, efficiently cutting up little ducky into thin slices and then taking his carcass off to be turned into soup. She shimmied off some of the crispiest bits of skin first and handed them over to us. I personally like duck fat (I don't like pork fat), but that skin is just a mouthful of oil. Yes, deliciously duck-flavored oil, but I like duck fat and duck meat together.
Ducky also came with a certificate. He's a special duck. He was a quite delicious duck; I have no complaints.
The carver handed over two plates of neatly piled duck, which were almost too pretty to eat (almost), and then our Korean-Chinese friend explained how to eat the duck. It's pretty much a tiny duck burrito, or maybe a tiny duck spring roll.
Lay down one of the crepes (or pancakes or tortillas or whatever they're called), dip a slice or two of the duck into the sauce, add a couple matchsticks of cucumbers and spring onion, roll the whole thing up, and eat it. These little rolls were a perfect two bites for me, and very good. The wrappers were a little odd, because some of them were thick and some of them were very, very thin (the thin ones were better).
Here's our little ducky's head, cleanly halved, with some of the crispy skin. I tried the brain and it was okay. It had the consistency of beans and not much flavor. Now that I think about it, I probably should have had the brain and the skin together, that would have been much better.
Duck soup, which was very, very, VERY greasy and not refreshing in the slightest. I could see how this would be really good as a base for something, but it was a little odd and one-dimensional the way we had it. Besides, by the time the soup came out, we were all stuffed and ready to pass out from full bellies and lack of sleep.

Actually, passing out is exactly what we did. After lunch, we went back to the hotel, crawled into our respective beds, and look naps before our afternoon meetings started. The nap only made me want to sleep more, so it was not, perhaps, the best idea, but we were wiped out and needed whatever rest we could get.

This trip to Beijing was much better than the first one, mostly because we had a little bit of time and were actually able to go to some different places, rather than being trapped at the post-production facility during all our waking hours.

In non-China related news, my mother's here! Yay! She arrived (arrove) early yesterday morning. My aunt (my mother's only sister) went to pick her up. They had coffee and then came to my house just after 9:00, where I was sprawled in a stupor because of a hweshik (회식) the night before. During said 회식, I managed to drop my phone and crack the screen, meaning that I cannot use the phone at all. I am full of smart moves when I drink, let me tell you.

My poor mother saw me at my bleary-eyed worst as soon as she got here! We both struggled to stay awake yesterday. Mom managed to stay up until 9:00, after which I gave her permission to sleep (she passed out SO FAST), and I stayed up a while longer, waiting for an e-mail from work. I only came into work for a few hours yesterday, thankfully, but have been here since 9:30 this morning and am ready to go home (it's only 4:30).

More posts about Beijing coming soon- we went to a 24-hour restaurant-ish place that night, a nighttime market-ish place the next night, and managed to have fun. My Chinese visa is kaput now, so here's hoping that if I go back to China again, it'll be for fun and not for work.


Rachael October 26, 2011 at 9:18 AM  

Just wanted to say thank you so much for how you incorporate Korean words while adding the meanings next to them. It’s easier for readers like myself who are stuck with trying to figure out the translation with context and google translate. I really enjoy reading your blog!

jeanny October 26, 2011 at 8:54 PM  

Thanks for the kind words, Rachael! It's always nice to get a shot of happy from someone. :)