Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Jian bing guozi is a street snack made from dough spread over a flat griddle, then covered with broken egg and flipped before being spread with sauce and stuffed. The ‘guozi’ refers to the crispy dough or youtiao that is inside. Lately it has become fashionable to add sausage or other meats to the usual guozi, potato, and vegetable fillings. The snack is native to northern areas but is so genius that it is made and enjoyed all over the country. We in Chengdu have many places to pick up a folded up, hand warming breakfast made either in the softer crepe style or stiffer crunchier style.
We’ve always thought the snacks could be filled in more interesting ways and late last year noticed line ups forming outside a jian bing seller in the entrance of a Tongzilin area storefront. This is a better neighbourhood for foreign food than street food so out of curiosity we joined the queue and found the stall selling jian bings like we’d never seen before, filled with piles of shredded cabbbage, squirts of salad dressing, cheese, and fried chicken chunks. The menu has pork floss, bacon, and other fillings, demonstrating that your basic jian bing is really a blank canvas. We can imagine purists shaking their heads, but these fast food style bings, presented in a paper holder, actually taste pretty awesome. At around RMB10 per order they are also twice the price that we would pay for a more conventional jian bing guozi, but the popularity speaks to the value.
Earlier this year we noticed the jian bing seller had moved out of the storefront stand into their own small restaurant. There are tables and chairs if customers want to sit, and in keeping with the northern comfort food theme they are also selling several types of jiaozi dumplings. During busy times the line is as long as ever.