Din Tai Fung is a restaurant with locations throughout the world. It had been on my list for awhile to try their xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and their shaved ice. It’s a little nicer, so we left the kids home and enjoyed a date night out. We went to the location in Beijing closer to us, at the Xidan stop (lines 1 and 4). It’s in the basement of one of the malls there.


green beans with pork

 Their mascot is adorable.

 Dessert. It actually looks kind of gross (and strawberries were out of season so we went with mango) but this is a delicious, creamy, shaved ice concoction. So good. And that bowl is HUGE!

An older Chinese sister in our branch invited a bunch of us over for lunch to say goodbye to me and another sister who was moving with her family to Shanghai. She made delicious homemade jiaozi and this Zongzi (below). Zongzi is sort of an acquired taste. But the homeade jiaozi was yummy.

I found a place to by these bubble egg waffles in China (we discovered them in Hong Kong), and they sell a bubble waffle maker on (US)!!! Yay!

 B and I went to a convert (Canadian Chinese woman named June) on the other side of town, so we decided to wait and eat while we were over there near all the yummy restaurants. We had some tuk tuk issues (driver yelling at us that we weren’t paying what he asked when he agreed upon Y10 and then dropped us off and started yelling that we owed him Y10 per person, B yelled back). And the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. So we walked down Chaoyang Park Rd. and found this French/Vietnamese Bistro place. It was pretty good.

  Fried bananas

 Pad Thai

 Egg roll… I forgot to take a pic.

Veggie spring rolls


For my birthday, we went to a place called Al Safir, a Middle Eastern restaurant up by the US Embassy, because we heard they had great falafel and chicken shawarma. It may have given us food poisoning (we both had desperate need of the bathrooms at the Pearl Market shortly after eating here), but it was delicious. And I believe B went back again after I returned to the US and didn’t get sick on his second vist.



China Life

 Squidgems saw these and said, “Look, Phineas and Ferb!”

 Water brush calligraphy in a park.

 This is Buddy taking a picture of a Chinese guy with Squidgems with the guy’s phone. Near Tianan’men/Forbidden City.

 6/21 Super moon of some sort on the way home from youth activities.

 Before we sold our e-bike, we had to see how many of us we could fit on it at the same time.

 We also let PS take it on a little ride.


Walking from Decathlon toward home. Not sure why I took this picture.

 This cracked me up for two reasons. 1) the car parked on the sidewalk and 2) the sign says a Chinese name and then “Disaster Prevention Theme Park.”


For some reason, before starting the work day, salons sing/dance out front.

 Driving around in Becky’s car, the tallest and soon to be new tallest buildings in Beijing. And below, Short Pants.



This bike fold completely flat!

 PS looked long and hard for this popsicle she saw advertised that “peels.” We found it. It was gross.

 6/26 Trying out the new air conditioned booth on our way home from church on our last Sunday.


View of the train bridge taken from the pedestrian bridge on the way to church.

Church building. Well.. we use part of the 4th floor.

 Our bus stop.

 Cute girls at the new Summer Palace.

The vies from across the street from our building. This is the north gate of campus. Our building is the tall red one.

McD’s ice cream.

Check Check Check


On my crazy list of things to see and do in Beijing were a handful of little things that I’d never been able to check off. After our family photo shoot at the Ancient Observatory, we started to put a checkmark next to some of these things.

First up was the Kid’s Republic Bookstore. I’d seen it anytime cool bookstore or library designs are featured online, and as a book loving family, we had to see it in real life. It disappointed. It’s small and old and run-down and all the cool reading nooks were full of adults. It’s pretty cool, and I’m glad we saw it, but it wasn’t what I hoped for. And it didn’t help that it was almost entirely Chinese language books. (I know, I know… it’s in China… but still!)

Next up, a crazy China adventure. That wasn’t on my list. What was on B’s list was eating lunch at his favorite Indian restaurant, Ganges. Since we were still off of line one (the eastern end), we walked to a Ganges location we hadn’t been to before instead of some of the others in the north east we’d been to before. Walking around the mall it was supposedly in, we couldn’t find it so B called the number listed for them. A man answered and said he knew where we were, so he’d come out and get us. What ended up happening was he found us, took us to his driver (a Chinese man who spoke no English) and fit the 6 of us and a stroller into his driver’s sedan and had the driver drive us to the other location (one we’d been to before) because the location we were at was temporarily closed (that the entire basement of the mall was closed). B and I looked at each other, shrugged and got in the car. I was about a one mile drive. We ended up safely at the other Ganges and ate a delicious lunch. Only in China!!

Somehow, I heard about a Friends Cafe in Beijing. I was always a huge fan of the tv show Friends, I was even part of the live audience for a taping when I was in high school, so I knew I had to go. I never got the group of girl friends together to check it out, so Brandon (with his awesome map skills) got us there where we enjoyed some milk shakes and a cupcake. So fun! Especially since I’d just finished watching the entire series on Netflix.


China Life – the western end of line 1

We lived 5 stops from the western end of line 1, and way off in the distance we could see a pagoda on the hill. Before we moved, I wanted to ride to the end of the line and see how close it got. We thought about making a trip to the actual pagoda, but it was one more difficult place to get to without a car/driver and another place that would require great air so we could really see the view toward downtown. So we settled for getting a little bit closer.

We rode to the end of the line so we could say we rode the whole line. It takes a turn, so we rode back a few stops so we could see the straight shot through the middle of Beijing, east to west.

 Looking west.


 Looking east.. you can just barely see the tallest building downtown.



And then some typical Beijing sights…


 to cool off.


 Ice cream. I’d actually never scene this before.

I think this is the only stop sign I ever saw in Beijing.



There’s a fake Disneyland out that way, we walked part of the way home so we could walk past it.





Typical fire extinguishing set up. Axes and buckets.


Cantaloupe on a stick.


Chinese Cooking

[The formatting is messed up from copying and pasting out of a word document of the recipes. Sorry.]

A sweet woman (Jane) in our branch responded that she’d show us some Chinese recipes when we asked if anyone would teach us how to cook some Chinese food. Her life is crazy busy (always) but she made time last Saturday (5/21) to show a handful of us some recipes. She’s from Hong Kong, and didn’t really learn how to cook until college at BYU but has lived in Shanghai and Beijing for about 7 years now.

First… chicken for Sweet and Sour Chicken and for General Tao’s chicken (the second recipe she admitted isn’t really Chinese, but she has to make food her kids will eat).

Chicken in batter


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Notes: We ended up quadrupling the batter (doubling it in two bowls). I’m not sure how much chicken we had…at least 8+ breasts. She used sunflower oil. Change the oil after a few batches. Check if oil is hot enough by putting chopsticks in…if small bubbles form around them, it’s ready.


  1. Coat the chicken pieces with 1/2 of cornstarch; set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour and baking powder until no large lumps remain. Mix in the chicken until evenly coated.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep wok or large skillet over high heat. Drop in the chicken pieces; cook until golden brown and no longer pink on the inside, about 12 minutes. Set the chicken aside; keep warm.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
  • (Jane uses the juice and then fresh pineapple)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 drops orange food color (optional)
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces(or red or yellow or orange)

***Batter: see General Tao’s Chicken recipe

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Slightly cook onion, add green peppers, pineapple chunks, add hot sweet and sour sauce, put chicken pieces on platter, pour sauce over chicken pieces.

General Tao’s Chicken sauce

  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup


Reduce the heat to medium-high and stir in the sesame oil, ginger, and green onion. Cook and stir until the onion is limp and the garlic, ginger begins to brown, about 1 minute. Pour in the water, vinegar, and sugar; bring to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and add to the simmering vinegar along with the oyster sauce and ketchup. Stir until the sauce has thickened and is no longer cloudy. Stir in the chicken and simmer until hot.

Chinese Green Beans with Pork


  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns (if you have them) freshly ground
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce (optional)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans or long beans, trimmed and cut in half if desired (and blanched or boiled first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

In a small bowl toss the pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine, sugar and the ground pepper. Marinate at room temperature while assembling the rest of the ingredients.

Make the brown sauce: in a separate bowl combine the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the remaining teaspoon of rice wine (optional), chili garlic sauce (optional), sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.

When the oil is hot add the beans, and salt and stir fry them for 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown and blister. Remove the beans from the pan using a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil. Return the pan to the heat and add the pork, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for about 3 minutes (optional, add some chopped chili peppers) or until there is no longer any pink color to the pork. Add the reserved sauce and green beans and mix well. The sauce will begin to thicken and shiny glaze the pork and beans.

Serve with steamed rice or pan fried noodles.

This recipe can be easily doubled. It works well with Chinese long beans, haricots verts, or green beans.

Fried Rice

  • 4-5 cups rice…not too soggy (don’t add too much water when you cook it).
  • 2+ eggs
  • soy sauce
  • green onions
  • veggies, meat, etc.

Heat oil in walk. Scramble eggs. Add rice. Break up rice. Press it flat. Use two spoons to break and stir. Add cooked meat, onion, veggies (diced tiny), diced tomatoes, etc. Add green onions. Add soy sauce until you get the color you want (1/4 – 1/2 cup).

Stir Fry Brown Sauce

  • 1/2 cup beef broth (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce OR 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Date Night


Some friends Brandon works with invited us to try a new Indian Restaurant with them and a few other people. Brandon and I met them there. First we walked around the Houhai Lake area and then around the outside of the Drum and Bell Towers and the hutongs there.


The kids and I went to the Drum and Bell Towers last year, but Brandon hadn’t seen them so we walked around the courtyard between them and snapped some pictures before walking through the neighborhood north of them and then back south and east toward the restaurant. It’s sort of a hipster neighborhood… so lots of oblivious Chinese people living their lives, and lots of young foreigners thinking they are awesome because they are the only foreigner on their street.




Insert dinner picture here.