Tag Archives: 德式食物

My Journey to the West

Marmoset!    Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Jintan is not India, and I am not the Monkey King. Although, some people will think of my rampant ADHD and know I possess the attention span of a monkey. On a hot spring day, I might sweat enough to smell like a monkey, baboon, or a gorilla — but definitely not marmosets. They are too small, and they have white skull mullets. I would look absurd with a skull mullet.

But, I digress. I went to Jintan to look for Zapfler’s, a German restaurant which brews its own beer. I had went looking for it once before, but this time I thought I had a solid lead. I had found its website.  However, my blundering around and Chinese map reading errors were epic. (Hence the “Journey to the West” reference. Jintan is Changzhou’s most western district.)

First, I was stupid enough to wear a hoody, and I realized it was a hot spring day. Sweat ran down my face. Eventually, I pulled the hoody off and tied it around my waist, much the same way grunge rockers did in the 1990’s. But they did that with flannel shirts. I cooled down a little, but I continued to sweat. Especially since I ended up walking around for essentially three hours nonstop.

My next error involved not eating breakfast or buying any water. I thought I was going to have a nice, big German lunch with a lager. So, I was incredibly thirsty and sweating, which led to dehydration.

In terms of navigating Jintan, I mistook 金沙园 Jinsha Park for Dongmendajie  东门大街 — which is the shopping center of the district. Think of it as Jintan’s Nandajie. I walked around every floor of every shopping area. Entering the Chinese for “German Restaurant” into Baidu Maps didn’t help. Eventually, I gave up and texted my friend from this area. Given how stubborn I can be in refusing help, that says a lot.

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A one-armed kung fu master.

He told me I should have been entering the Chinese characters for  “German Beer.” I did the whole facepalm thing, wondering why I didn’t think of that.  Within a minute, he sent me a screen shot from his phone’s map. Now, would this be the end of my blundering? No.

Jintan has a lot of parks clustered together. Instead of simply buying water, I thought, “No, you will find this restaurant in five minutes, and you drink water with lunch.” So, I tried cutting through the parks — only to get distracted by a series of states with missing arms.  Eventually, I walked around Jinsha park for an hour, and I didn’t find Zapfler’s. I was about to give up and return to the coach station, defeated. And, of course, that’s when I finally found it.

Did I get to have yummy German food, lots of cold water, and beer? No, they were closed. The Chinese waitstaff were sitting outside. So, imagine their facial expressions when a six foot two sweaty American — with a hoody tied around his waist — showed up. I hadn’t shaven in two days. Even though I didn’t look like a marmoset with a skullet, I probably smelled like one — contrary to my earlier position on the matter. They were very, very generous to me. I am extremely grateful for that. They let me drink a couple of glasses of water, and they even called a taxi for me. I was in no mood to walk back to the bus station. Most importantly, I left with a business card.

So, learn from my mistakes. If you are looking for Zapfler’s for the first time, either go somebody who knows or just take a cab there.

Zapfler's
Zapfler’s aka the end of my silly quest.

Chocolate’s Cheesy Steak

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When I want German food, I’ll go to Jagerwirt, and when I want a steak, I’ll go to Chocolate’s.

I used to say this all the time when I lived in Wujin. It might seem strange, because both German restaurants are run by the same people. While both share the same high quality of food, there really is a difference between the two places. Jagerwirt has a longer menu with more options. Chocolate’s menu is more concise, and it strikes one more as a general bar and grill. There seems to be less “German” at Chocolates and that is not necessarily a criticism.

I usually ordered the same thing each time I visited. It was called “New Zealand” steak. Whether it’s authentically Kiwi or not is another question.  It is, however, very good.  Essentially, it’s a thick cut covered in cheese and served with gravy and potato wedges.  The beef itself is of high quality and cooked well enough to be tender to the cut, and priced extremely reasonably when compared to steaks in other Changzhou restaurants. This was usually my go-to item on their menu.

Chocolate’s is located near Yancheng historical area, the Wujin Musuem, and the Spring and Autumn amusement park. If going by bus, the B1 is the easiest. It;s basically in the same row of eateries where Wujin’s Monkey King Italian Restaurant can be found.  Getting there requires passing under three metal dragons that arch over the road.

Jagerwirt’s Lamb Special

American holiday traditions can change from family to family; that’s just part of living in a multicultural society. After all, each family has a unique set of ancestors hailing from multiple countries. While growing up, Easter dinner for me, for example, was a hodgepodge of Italian-American dishes, and curiously enough, roasted lamb.  It was one of the only times of the year my mom ever prepared it.

I don’t know if I was thinking about this or not while eating at Jagerwirt in Wujin, recently. I was out at that German restuarant with a friend to celebrate Easter. I puzzled over the menu for a moment and than for some reason impulsively went for the daily special: lamb chops with mashed potatoes and a few grilled veggies.

It was easily the best lamb I’ve eaten in Changzhou. When cooked wrong, lamb can be greasy and chewy. This was tender and easy to cut with a knife. The sauce went well with the mashed potatoes, but you can say this dish skimped a little on the vegetables.  However, This just another example that I’ve seldom had a lackluster meal at Jagerwirt.

I wish the could say the same for other people. As for my friend’s dinner, I have to say Jagerwirt is not exactly vegetarian friendly. For the price on the menu, their mixed vegetable salad struck me as a bit small and lacking. I love how Jagerwirt is the one of the only places that you can get an actual baked potato, but once you strip off the sour cream and chives they can some times taste a little dry — as if prepared a little too far in advanced.

Candle’s Mediocre Jeager Schnitzel

Changzhou’s foreigner population contains a high number of Germans. They tend to be engineers — logic dictates that they would not be English teachers. This demographic reality can be seen on high-priced restaurant menus meant to attract expats and their money. And by this, I do not mean Jeagerwirt or Chocolate’s in Wujin — both actually boast themselves as “German Restaurants.” Rightfully so, too. Both are great.  I am talking more about the generally themed “foreign” eateries that want to be everything to everybody.

Candles in Xinbei is such a place. Their menu tries to excite Australians, Americans, Brits, Germans, and more. This is a place often championed as “The Place” to hang out in Changzhou. And that’s true — but only if you live in Xinbei.  The people who champion this place the as the greatest ever are people who live in Xinbei and think Wujin is a waste of time.

I now live in Xinbei, and I can tell you that when it comes to German food, Candles is mediocre. It’s great, because, well, there is nothing else in the Xinbei district that competes. When you have nothing else, and you only have one option, mediocre is quite awesome. Think about it. What other choice do you have? You don’t.

I thought about this, because I ate a Jeager Schnitzel at Candles for lunch, and it was nice. But. But! But, Jeagerwirt  and Chocolate’s in Wujin do this particular dish much better. Please don’t assume this as “hating” on Candles. I would eat this again and eat it again at Candles.