Korean BBQ and Street Vendors

One evening, in search of a break from the campus dining halls, 6 of us set out to find a Korean barbeque restaurant.  We went to Wudaokou, a nearby district known as an international student hangout and characterized by its posh cafés, numerous bars and nightclubs, and diverse collection of restaurants.  Only a 5 minute cab ride away from PKU and a handful of other universities, it’s nightlife is a popular alternative to the farther destinations like Sanlitun (the notorious district of bar streets and clubs), Houhai (another bar/club area surrounding a lake), and the area around the Worker’s Stadium (the largest, most expensive nightclubs Beijing has to offer).

After getting to Wudaokou by bus, we found a Korean barbeque restaurant without much hassle.  We were taken to a private room and before sitting around a table with what seemed to be an overturned wok, we donned our individual aprons.  After choosing some dishes, we watched as a chef entered and meticulously placed sliced meats and vegetables upon the steaming, bulbous pan.  As the pieces fried, the juices sputtered down the sides and were collectively channeled into a small bowl.  The chef periodically attended to the searing meats while masterfully preparing a salad.  We feasted, and after the excellent meal, we headed to the main street in Wudaokou in hopes to find some good merchandise among the street vendors who frequently set up shop along the sidewalk.

We browsed the eclectic assortment—scarves, socks, small lamps, watches, and even animals—strewn about arbitrarily on the sidewalks.  They were all displayed upon a large cloth, in trash bags, or, for the puppies, in a crate.  Exactly why these merchants used such insubstantial arrangements soon became evident.  As we walked among the street-side market, a cry came from down the sidewalk and instantaneously, all the merchants around us picked up their goods in one prompt motion and dissolved into the crowd.  Those vending roasted chestnuts or chuar (Chinese street food on a stick) off an extended grill or wok off their bikes, quickly peddled away and flowed into their familiar escape route—a narrow dirt pathway along a train track.

Moments later, a police car, lights flashing, pulled up to meet a few uniformed officers who were walking along the sidewalk.  After a few words, they continued down the sidewalk to disperse to illegal vendors (as I believe you need a permit and cannot simply peddle goods around—a ubiquitous occurrence in China).  The police car and various officers continued along the sidewalk and as soon they turned the corner, new merchandise plopped back on the sidewalk.  Out of nowhere clothes and jewelry appeared as merchants staked out new side-walk space, meticulously organizing their collections before the flowing crowd.  As we walked along, the trunk of a parked car was reopened, exhibiting bright scarves of all colors and sizes.  We perused the street market, even finding a man selling all sorts of creatures including crickets, mice, turtles, chipmunks, and goldfish.  You can buy anything, if you know where to look.  As the maxim goes, T.I.C. (This is China).

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One Comment on “Korean BBQ and Street Vendors”

  1. wutao Says:

    Finally,I can access your BLOG now and share your experiences in China,great.


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