Scorpions and Steamed Buns on Wangfujing Snack Street
Don't expect to find any Beijing residents on Wangfujing Snack Street, home of spiders, scorpions, starfish and pretty much anything else that can be skewered and cooked. This is firm tourist territory, a place for visitors to test their mettle when it comes to snacking on creatures that have six or eight legs or float about in the sea. It's almost a rite of passage, to experience foods that most locals would turn their noses up at, and one that usually ranks among the top memories of a trip to Beijing.
Scorpions on a stick seem to be particularly fascinating to visitors. In fact, during the Beijing Olympics it would have been easier to make a list of the visiting journalists who didn't write a story about them. But, and this seems to be rarely mentioned, not everything on snack street has a 'Man v. Food' feel.
The stalls offer far more identifiable snacks. Fried dumplings. Steamed buns. Mountains of noodles. Jellied acorn and chestnut. Corn. And given the overall cleanliness of the spot, perhaps due to its high tourism profile, it is generally safe to eat here. So, don't feel you have to stick to the scorpions. The steamed buns will do, too.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Are You a Fearless Eater?
The Wangfujing night market in Beijing is a market with split personalities - it has a bunch of great traditional street food such as noodles, dumplings, and soups, and then it also has creepy crawlies on a stick...definitely worth a visit to see how daring you are!
Sherry Ott traveled to China courtesy of the China National Tourist Office (www.cnto.org) and Wendy Wu Tours (www.wendywutours.com/china/USTOATravelTogether) as part of AFAR’s partnership with The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) (www.ustoa.com), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more info on Sherry’s journey, visit the USTOA blog (http://ustoa.com/blog).
Wangfujing snack is crazy place to get a meal. The alley is packed with people and vendors, and even if you're not eating, it's worth going, just for the experience.
There are tasty scorpions on a stick, or maybe you'd rather goat tripe soup and fried stinky tofu? Additionally there are great, perhaps more 'normal,' foods to be had here, such as yangrou chuan (pronounced yong row chuar), grilled mutton on a stick, fried noodles, and all sorts of candied fruits.
Certain side streets off the main drag house restaurants, and others are home souvenir markets that are a great place to practice haggling over prices (China's national sport). Wangfujing 'snack street' is not to be missed.
This place is a must when visiting Beijing, China. The choices here are endless whether you're looking for light snacks or filling meals with glorious prices.
But the food stands that are most striking on this street are the ones with exotic skewers - from giant scorpions, centipedes, cicadas, and even seahorses. It is a sight you cannot miss.
I particularly liked this scene because the workers in the back told a story with their lab coats and masks, as if they were very carefully operating on live patients, the scorpions still wiggling once they have been pierced single-file, awaiting their juicy and crunchy fate.
Lost your appetite? Don't worry, there are delicious steamed dumplings around the corner.