西餐 → Xī Cān → Western Food
Despite being in a country with uniquely distinct culinary tastes, I almost always lapse into eating “western food”. I have a craving for some eastern dishes, such as curries, though my taste seem to be oriented towards more European cuisines. It is not a very good habit considering price factors for one, or if not, the quality of said dishes for the other. From my time here, I’ve eaten lots of failed interpretations of “western food”, from the cheap but clearly sweet-milky macaroni and cheese I had at the 食堂 (shítáng, canteen), to the pig-out all-you-can-eat restaurant chains.
That being said, the environment here is really conducive to create dining spots that are truly authentic and offer a unique combination of western cuisine and eastern culture. Just yesterday, I ate at an excellent Italian restaurant that combines its 胡同 (hútòng) location, Italian cooking and some Chinese ingredients to create a little piece of rustic Italy right in the heart of old Beijing. Hence, despite the rise of knock-offs, you can’t stop real cooking from flourishing in a modernising city.