Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Season 2 Episode 1

China - Beijing

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Mar 04, 2008 on Travel Channel

Episode Recap

Andrew starts off the Second Season with a return trip to China, focusing on the capital Beijing and praising it for opening up to the world culturally and economically. Turning to its streets first in search of unusual foods, he happens upon the markets and at Wang Fu Xiang for sticky fruit, roasted candy, squid, and chicken. Beijing also has a variety of edible creatures such as cicada, grasshopper and sea horse, which he finds as salty and bony. On to the Donhuaman Night Market, which has been recently cleaned up to code, Andrew discovers noodle soups with a choice of ingredients such as dumplings, oyster, lobster, eel and sea urchin, all sold much cheaper in China than in the United States. He also tries Tee-Pee Ben Balls, a soup of floating dumplings, and a sandwich of pork and black fungus rolled like a tortilla.

Off to the Chaoyang province, Andrew remarks on how bad the traffic is, the number of cars in the city keeps increasing. He meets travel guide, Adlyn Adam Teoh, to try donkey meet in a restaurant. No part of the donkey is wasted by the chef, and the meat is very high-quality. Andrew helps to chop the meat in the kitchen for Seven-Year-Old Stew, so named because the pot is always kept full. Joined by Jenny Yap, Adlyn's business associate, Andrew tries cold donkey meat as an appetizer and the skin, which is rich in vitamins and good for complexion. The main course is the donkey tail, which has been stir-fried with julienne vegetables in a sweet sauce with soy, cinnamon and vinegar.

In the Chongwen province, Andrew reveals that Chinese medicine is a merge of Eastern and Western disciplines. He visits a pharmacy for a cold he has. The location even has a doctor on site and uses both modern drugs and holistic methods including herbs, plants and animal parts such as lizard and sea horse. Andrew discovers a dried fungus called cortaseps that is brewed into tea for its healing properties. It smells bad but tastes much better. Andrew is also sent to visit a homeopathic doctor who works out of his apartment. He gets a tissue massage with musical accompaniment and then experiences fire-cupping, heated glass cups applied to his back. He muses on the treatment but praises the release. He gets a hot herbal bath with seaweed base for his skin and announces he loves China.

Andrew visits the acres of Beihai Parks and tries one of their exercise machines. Among the exercises there is fervent clapping and open ping-pong games. Andrew enters a brief game of ping-pong and then is off to the Fang Shen Restaurant that serves Imperial cuisine from the Ming and Xing Dynasties. Accompanied by four students from Beijing University, Andrew is served the best examples of Imperial food served banquet from a rotating table. He tries shark fin, which is controversial in other countries and sea cucumber, a delicacy braised with mushrooms, leafy greens and pork feet. He also discovers camel feet, an acquired taste braised and sliced into gelatin.

In the Dai Xing province, Andrew is at the Fuji Hi-Loh Restaurant for pig stomach braised in a sauce and poached tofu in a tomato sauce. He tries roasted lamb very similar to mutton and pig's ear in soy sauce and vinegar. Dongee is also served. Andrew refers to it as a liquefied version of stinky tofu that has been fermented. He compares it to sauerkraut soup from his youth. He is soon off to the Gwo-Lee-Jian Restaurant, which specializes in dishes made from the penis of various animals. There is no public dining room but private dining areas to add to the mystique. Joined by a guest, Joy Qi-Shuai, a business consultant, Andrew has snake penis in a soup, which has medicinal properties and is good for the kidneys. He has sliced deer penis which is fried and very cheesy and tortoise served with herbs and a variety of servings.

Andrew takes the time to marvel at Chinese structures such as the Great Wall and the Tandem Skyscraper. Rejoined by Adlyn, he heads to a restaurant replete with artwork and fine fixtures for a course of steamed whelk, a sea snail in poached rice, wine and soy sauce to absorb spices. The shrimp is served whole; the head considered the best part. To cap the meal, Andrew and Adlyn are served asparagus and hairy crab in rice wine and vinegar.

Andrew ends the show praising China and Beijing for its diversity and culture. He reiterates his opinion on sampling a culture by its food before moving on.