Old China Hands lunch 8 November

Modest crowd

Our Old China Hands lunch 8 November saw a grand total of 25, due to COVID complications and other. It was somehow good to have a reduced crowd as CCTV4 was running around filming us and Morel’s Restaurant has a lack of staff.
Yeah CCTV4 is making (again) a documentary about me…

But food was great again. This time we saw pockets of French, German, Flemish and English speaking corners, making it pretty international…

Our Hutong Man

Once again Terry in the news. this time on BRTV (Beijing Radio and TV). who shows his Chinese skills and how he is part of the hutong community.

Link of the video clip is here.
Google translation (edited) from the introduction:
“Unexpected Beijing”  American Gao Tianrui, I am “Xichengyang Aunt”
BRTV Youth 21 October 2022
Gao Tianrui from the USA has lived in Beijing for 27 years. A few years ago, he set up his home in a hutong near Shichahai in Beijing, and developed a strong interest in the work of community volunteers. In 2017, he joined the volunteer team of “Aunt Xicheng” and became a member of the Ping An volunteers in Xicheng District, and became well-known. Wearing a red vest and a red armband he is regularly walking in the alleys of Shichahai, enjoying volunteering. His favorite idiom is “helping others.” For him, the Shichahai community is his home.

See previous posts here.

Best Belgian food in Beijing (3)

Afternoon tea

Best Belgian food in Beijing (3) focuses on afternoon tea, a typical Dutch sandwich and flowers. Of course in Morel’s Restaurant.

The restaurant is open in the afternoon and is popular for its sumptuous afternoon tea.

What is a “smos sandwich”?

Friends who are regulars are sometimes treated to unusual specials, like the Martino and also the broodje smos, or smos or smoske.

A smos sandwich, sometimes called smos or smoske, is the Flemish name for a sandwich or piece of baguette often topped with cheese, ham, vegetables and egg slices. The name comes from the Flemish word ‘smossen’ which means to spill. So much topping is put in between the sandwich that it often spills while eating. In Wallonia the name “dagobert” is used, and in Brussels “sandwich club”.

The bun is first spread with mayonnaise or another sauce and then topped with vegetables and slices of hard-boiled egg. Vegetables that are used include lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Usually cheese and/or ham or, for example, crab salad is also added. There are also variants where deep-frying products such as a frikandel or meat croquette are placed between the sandwich.

In the province of Antwerp and in Sint-Niklaas, they use the word smos for a sandwich without cheese and ham with only vegetables on it. In that case, you order a smos and say the topping that goes on after it (for example a smos cheese or smos ham). If you order a smos in West Flanders, Sint-Niklaas or in Antwerp, you can receive different sandwiches.
The sandwich has similarities with the Dutch sandwich “gezond”.

A flower paradise

Susan Morel and her team also takes care of the wonderful flower arrangements, and some flower gifts for the ladies. As mentioned earlier Susan has become a real master florist.

I admit many of the flowers I have no idea about. She sources them from all over China.

7Fresh in Beijing Yizhuang

Exploring new places

I admit I am pretty lazy and mostly don’t go far away from Sanlitun. A friend recommended 7Fresh in Beijing Yizhuang, so Renaat and Susan took me along to explore the 7Fresh Food Market that is next to the JD 7 Fresh Supermarket. That was in February 2019 before the COVID mess hit us all.
Covering 4000 sqm, the store is at the Dazu Plaza Shopping Center, near the e-commerce company’s headquarters in Yizhuang district. Closest subway station is Rongjingdongjie of the Yizhuang Line (Line 5).

We tried many of the dishes, all of excellent quality. Great experience!

More about the supermarket

Fresh goods and unmanned delivery service at JD 7Fresh Supermarket.
On February 18, 2022, 62 Chinese and foreign journalists visited JD Group’s 7Fresh Supermarket in Yizhuang District of Beijing. Founded in 2017, 7Fresh is a gourmet fresh supermarket providing consumers with instant and fast quality retail services through online and offline channels, and dedicated to creating a better quality life for customers. Journalists visited the fruit and vegetable, bakery, wine, Chinese food , meat, seafood, and catering sections in the store, to learn about the business and operation mode of 7Fresh, its supply chain, commodity power and innovation power advantages, and experience the convenient shopping experience first-hand.

Greek food or hotpot in Beijing


Greek food or hotpot in Beijing. Greek is an obvious choice: Athena Greek restaurant.
I finally made it back there after a long time, with all the COVID mess. Both Renaat and myself enjoyed it. We had Greek Salad, lemon chicken soup, other dishes and some deserts.

The beer I had: Russell Brewing Company, British Columbia, Canada. Pretty nice (but not Greek!).
Moussaka was very good, it’s a potato-based dish with ground meat. The best-known version in Europe and the Americas is the Greek variant created in the 1920s by Nikolaos Tselementes.
The “lamb” chops could be better – basically mutton and not lamb. Deserts, such as rice pudding, were very good.
Nice sitting outside (and inside too). The restaurant is famous for its good lunch buffet.
Located close to the Spanish embassy.

Favorite hotpot

I admit I like hotpot and my favorite is Haidilao Hotpot in Beijing Sanlitun 3.3. Rather cheap and very attentful service. Always ordering too much so I took home some doggy bag with left over vegetables. Their beer is quite OK. We had the noodle-making mini show too.
The cows? Going there we saw the cows in 3.3, they looked pretty real…

Haidilao Expects $600 Million Loss in 2021
Haidilao, a Chinese hot pot chain, announced Monday that it foresees a net loss of about 3.8 billion yuan to 4.5 billion yuan as of Dec. 31, 2021. The revenue in 2021 is expected to exceed 40 billion yuan, an increase of more than 40 percent, compared to 2020 revenue of about 28.6 billion yuan. (
Haidilao estimates losses mainly due to the following factors: First, in 2021, Haidilao closed more than 300 restaurants and dropped restaurant business performance and other factors resulting in losses totaling around 3.3 billion yuan to 3.9 billion yuan. In addition, the restaurant chain’s operations were impacted by the continuing changes in the global landscape and repeated outbreaks.

The best Belgian food in Beijing (2)

Dishes from my hometown

The best Belgian food in Beijing (2) you can find in Morel’s Restaurant. In this part: specialties from Ghent and more.
The most famous dishes from Ghent are Waterzooi of Fish and Waterzooi of Chicken. I am thus unhappy with Renaat as he has removed them away from the menu… But to make me happy he sometimes makes me a mini waterzooi of fish or a gratinated fish (pretty similar).

Waterzooi is a stew dish from Belgium and originated in Flanders. The second part of the name derives from the Middle Dutch terms sode, zo(o)de and soot, words referring to the act of boiling or the ingredients being boiled. It is sometimes called Gentse Waterzooi which refers to the Belgian town of Ghent where it originated. The original dish is often made of fish, either freshwater or sea, though today chicken waterzooi is more common. The most accepted theory is that rivers around Ghent became too polluted and the fish there disappeared.

Not really from Ghent but considered there a special delicacy is Atlantic cod fish, hard to find the real one in Beijing and very expensive. Atlantic cod has a slightly sweet taste, with large flakes that fall apart easily when cooked. See several ways to serve the codfish.
Kibbeling is sometimes on the menu and it’s a special part of cod fish. also called fried cod bits (normally the cheeks of cod fish).

Steak tartare

In Morel it is rather “Filet Américain” Belgian style. Filet Américain, steak tartare or quite simply préparé, is made out of raw ground beef, which is then often spiced with piri-piri, Tabasco, mustard, cayenne pepper, gherkins, salt, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Ingredients may vary. The Belgian way is to finely chop the meat with a knife to have a smooth paste.

On the Morel’s “secret menu” is also the Martino sandwich that uses filet américain plus plus. I add anchovies… Super! See the versions with and without anchovies. It has quite a history!
In Belgium the most popular sandwich is not ham and cheese, it is a spicy sandwich that was invented by Albert De Hert, a former football player who owned a restaurant in Antwerp for more than 50 years.  Albert also worked in a snack bar called ‘Quick’, it was located at “The Coninck Square”, near the central station. A square that at that time was full of nightclubs. There he would have launched his famous martino sandwich.
The story goes that another Belgian football player and friend of Albert, Theo Maertens, who called himself Martino, once ordered a spicy sandwich of meatloaf to get over his hangover.
“Put everything what you have in the cooler on it, he asked,” So Albert served him a sandwich with chopped onion, slices of pickle, tabasco, piri piri, cayenne pepper, ketchup and Worcester sauce.
The recipe struck and became a concept in Antwerp and later the rest of Belgium, the sandwich is still very popular today.
The Martino consists of filet Américain (raw minced beef) mixed with seasonings, mayonnaise, and egg yolk then blended to a pink paste and spread on a split baguette and served with pickles, onions, boiled eggs, etc.

Certain types of Martinos are made with anchovies (my choice!).
Martino” is the famous eatery in Vlaanderenstraat 125, Gent 9000.

Safe water

Some restaurants make a lot of noise about their “pure water”. In Morel’s, it is considered a normal component of high quality. They use OZNER equipment, supposed to be one of the best in China.
Ozner Water International Holding Ltd provides water purification systems in China.

The Company additionally develops technology for air purification systems.