Tag Archives: Healthy Food

A Salad Bar Downtown

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Some people have told me that salad bars are all over Changzhou, and recently, armed with Baidu Maps and the characters 沙拉 shālāI started to hunt down these other salad places. Turns out, many of them are not salad bars in the real sense — they are small little holes in the wall that pretty much cater to Meituan and other Chinese food delivery apps. These are not places where the ingredients are on full display and a patron can pick what they want.

So far, I’ve found and enjoyed Salad Stuff in Xinbei, but recently, I found a new actual salad bar. While I don’t think the place is as good as Salad Stuff, there are a few things going for it. First, Green Salad is in a really good location — Yangliu Alley just off of Yanling Road in Changzhou’s city center. The Zhonglou Injoy Mall and Bar Street are not that far away. The selection of both meat and vegetables is very good. You can choose between chicken, duck, pepper beef, steak, seafood, and more. They have the standard set of veggies and dressings to choose from. While this is a salad bar, they also make money through delivery apps. A friend used to order lunch from here without many complaints.

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While that is well and nice, there are a few things that are drawbacks here. My biggest problem with the place is their printed ordering menu. When you come in, you are supposed to grab it and tick off your ingredient choices. This menu is riddled with English language errors that are utterly confusing. For example, “Mixed Greens” is beneath the Chinese characters for “cucumber.” That’s just one example of many. Plus, something oddly named “screw powder” is also on the menu. Another issue is pricing. If you pick “tomato” you are only rewarded with a few meager slices, which seems unfair seeing that you could buy a whole tomato for what you are being charged.

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This place is fairly new, and it has been open for about two months now. So, while there is some room for improvement, it’s good to have another option — especially if you are downtown and don’t have the time to go to the salad bar in Xinbei.

Reliable Salad Stuff

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There is an infinitely beautiful thing about salad. For me, it’s the one type of food that you can actually eat everyday, and everyday it could be completely different. While you will usually have a green leaf vegetable base, you can put literally almost anything into a salad and that leads to nearly limitless variety. So, one day you can have chunks of tuna and chicken mixed together. Another day, if you feel completely in a vegan mood, you can have cashew nuts, edamame, and an a slew of veggies topped with dairy-free vinaigrette. If you want to be a red meat carnivore, you can throw in steak chunks, and when mixed with lettuce, tomato, and onion, it’s like eating the innards of a sandwich without bread.

Salad is also a simple western food that is sometimes hard to locate in a smaller Chinese city like Changzhou. Yes, Starbucks and places like Paris Baguette sell ready-made ones for when you are on the go. Sure, places like Monkey King will offer higher end, more gourmet, and more expensive ones. These are often fixed-menu things, and they do not offer the infinite variety that could be. There is a huge sense of freedom that comes with a real salad bar. And, honestly, Changzhou really hasn’t had an honest to God salad bar that, quite frankly, Americans take for granted when back home.

Well, that changed recently. Salad Stuff opened in Xinbei, recently. It’s currently my favorite place to eat in all of Changzhou, and I have lunch there all the time. It gives you the “build your own” experience where can pick stuff on random whims. Want chickpeas? Sure! Radish slices? Sure! Bassa fish? Sure! Salad Stuff allows a diner these endless options in a rather unique way.

The ingredients are behind a glass counter. You actually don’t touch anything. In front of that glass, you see a series of poker chips. Each of them has the ingredient’s name written in both Chinese and in English. So, there is a chip for broccoli, a chip for tofu, a chip for carrots, and so on. Once you have your handful of chips, you hand them to a cashier. Each has an internal RFID computer chip, and the cashier runs them over a counter. Your order is placed, and somebody assembles your salad and then brings it to you.

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There are other comforts here, too. The manager and a lot of the staff have some capacity with English. That makes a lot of since, since this type of food is not traditionally Chinese. Sure, it does speak to the Chinese culinary love of vegetables, but salad is still a western concept that will draw lots of expats. So, in the many times I have eaten here, the customer service provided has been quite excellent.

The location is pretty good, too. Salad Stuff is in the middle of Xinbei’s media tower complex on Taihu Road. It’s next to Zoo Coffee and down the street from Istanbul Restaurant. This puts the place in walking distance from Wanda Plaza and it’s BRT bus stop.

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Weird Name, Good Salad

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The name “Italian Duck Salad” strikes me as a little odd. Being half Italian-American, it is something I have never, ever heard about growing up. It’s never been mentioned in conversation with Italians, either. Duck is a meat I have seen more of in China than in the USA or Europe in general. When I saw this on a menu in Hutang section of Wujin, I was a bit perplexed. So, I ordered it.

This was at Eco, a new salad specialty place in the Grand Metropolis Mall. This is the part of the Golden Eagle center that didn’t shut down once Golden Eagle exited Wujin. For another point of reference, RT Mart shares the same premises. Eco is on the upper most floor and in the Spade Street thematic area. But enough of that. Was the salad any good?

Apart from the weird name, yes. The only thing remotely Italian here may have been the rotini pasta noodles and the dressing. The rest was a mix of greens, tomatoes, and corn. Oh, and there was the duck meat. It was served tender and cold, which suited the salad nicely. The more important question would be: would I order it again? Yes, I would.

Places like this are important for Hutang. There are not a lot of options in the area beyond Jagerwirt, Kaffa, and others. This is often something that people in Xinbei take for granted. I know this because of having lived in Wujin for two years. So, whenever a new place like this opens, it feels like a major event. Try the place out. The ingredients are fresh and low in sodium. The menu has pictures and is in English. The manager also has excellent English skills.

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