When I visited Beijing over seven years ago (wow, time flies!), one of the snacks my expat friends kept telling me about was jian bing, the Chinese version of a crepe made with eggs, crunchy wonton crisps, and a flavorful sauce.
I never got the chance to get one on the street of Beijing with my expat friend. However, during one of our last days in Beijing while hiking the Great Wall of China, Bryan and I found a vendor selling jian bing right at the Great Wall. At this point, we just wanted to try it, after having heard so much about it.
Yum! And that was the last time that I tasted a jian bing.
Soon after I moved to Hong Kong I began my search for jian bing again. I figured Hong Kong was so close to Mainland China, it had to have all of the various snacks and delicacies you can get in China, right? It turns out not to be that way, exactly. In fact, jian bing is not that easy to find in Hong Kong.
At first I was sorely disappointed to learn that the one very popular jian bing place called Mr. Bing had closed shop in Hong Kong not too long ago and had moved to New York City - grrrrrr.
But then I found Yu Chu Jian Bing, which, as luck would have it, was just down the street from my apartment!
Yes!!!! Found a Beijing-style jianbing 煎餅 place a 2-minute walk from my new apartment. It totally hit the spot for lunch today. Soooo thrilled! Check out this 1-min (sped up) video showing how he makes them! . Cost $35 HKD (under $5 USD). Seems reasonable to me, though a guy in line told me they are less than $1 USD in China. ???? #streetfood #beijingstreetfood #wanchai
I was mesmerized as I watched the jian bing maker expertly form the super thin pancake and flip it with ease. I chose the Spicy Chicken jian bing, which I really enjoyed because the spicy chicken balanced out the sweetness from the hoisin sauce that they use as a base in most of their jian bings.
On another occasion the staff recommended the Peking Duck jian bing, which Bryan got. Bryan found the overall flavors of that jianbing to be too sweet for his tastes, and he agreed he liked the spicy chicken version better.
At around $35 HKD per jian bing (a little under $5 USD), it's not an expensive lunch, though it still costs many times what something similar would cost in China (probably closer to $1 USD!). However, these versions have fancier ingredients than the street ones in China, which may not have meat or include as many fresh vegetables.
In short, I'm thrilled there is a place so close by where I can get my jian bing fix. I do hope they broaden the range of flavors that the offer. Right now, although I really enjoy the hoisin sauce + spicy chicken combination, I do get tired of the same flavor combination. Is it possible to make a jian bing without that sweet hoisin sauce?
In any event, until another place opens up, I'm still happy to support and frequent Yu Chu Jian Bing whenever I'm looking for a fast, casual, and flavorful lunch that's not too expensive and close to home.
Yu Chu Jian Bing
181A-181G Wan Chai Rd
Morrison Hill, Wan Chai