Sunday, September 6, 2009

Inner Mongolian Breakfasts...Pretty Darn Good!

Inner Mongolia was full of surprises during Labor Day weekend. Inner Mongolia is known for great expanses of blue sky and vast and green grasslands. We got a weekend of rainy, cloudy, and muddy mush. It was still an amazing trip, for which I would happily go through another round of rain, wind, and freeze. The Inner Mongolian experience was certainly enhanced by the surprisingly delicious meals we had. Let's begin with the breakfasts.
The journey started with a savory, flakey, and warm breakfast sandwich that is made from shao1 bing3 (a pan-fried sesame pastry) and sliced soy-marinated beef. This beats the breakfast sandwiches at MacDo...and it's plane food!
Shao Bing with Soy Marinated Beef Breakfast Sandwich on Air China

No one expected that there could be a real 5-star hotel in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China. Alas, modernization is quickly working its way into remote parts of China. For better or for worse, my tummy was certainly happy to see waffles and omlettes at the breakfast buffet before setting off into the Xilamuren grasslands, a journey filled with mutton, mutton, and more mutton.
Hohhot hotel breakfast buffet...yes, this is in Inner Mongolia!

The last plates of non-Inner Mongolian food in Inner Mongolia
When we moved to Mongolian yurts in the Xilamuren grasslands, I thought that we could forget about yummy food much less a decent breakfast. I'm such an urban snob! The breakfast is better than the cold, lifeless continental breakfasts at modern motels/hotels in the states! Bridget and I were addicted to the fried sweet bread. It was the perfect food after a freezing night with the wind and rain blowing into our yurts. The warm, milky bread gave a poof of steam as we took our first bites. Bliss!
Morning on the Xilamuren Grasslands
Mongolian Breakfast of Warm Soy Milk, Fried Sweet Bread, Egg Drop Soup, Hard Boiled Eggs, and Pickles
We didn't realize just how bad-ass can be in Inner Mongolia until we came upon this savory crepe stand at the mouth of an antiques market street. The crepe lady brushed the crepe with a special sauce, then cracked an egg on top and flipped the crepe. Next, she dusted the crepe with parsley, sesame, and scallions and cracked a crunchy, poofy fried pastry into the middle of the crepe and wrapped everything together burrito-style.

Making a Savory Crepe

Savory Crepe

Hands down, the best breakfast I had in China

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