Sofitel Wanda Beijing, Beijing, 2012

Sofitel Wanda Beijing’s breakfast buffet is a show-stopper. I was flailing with excitement when I walked into the dining area. The first 10 minutes were spent admiring the pretty decorations, the fancy table arrangements, and the hundreds of different food choices.

sofitel beijing breakfast

beijing yogurt

A color wheel of 北京酸奶 [Beijing yogurts] with fresh fruit

It was almost impossible to stop myself from devouring the entire tray of croissants, but I managed to stick to one. My mom, on the other hand, snatched up 3 as fast as she could, and ran straight back to our table to gobble them down. Paris can eat its heart out because these were on point. Perfectly flaky on the outside, perfectly soft and dough-y on the inside. What made them over-the-top delicious was that they were fresh out of the oven, and I had to take care not to burn myself while eating it. The smoothie bar offered a choice of 6 different vegetables and 6 different fruits that you could mix and blend however you wanted to. I did an all-fruit mix and all-veggie mix, and grabbed another glass of the chef-chosen mixes on the side. So greedy. And the proof of Sofitel’s breakfast excellency is in the pudding. Or should I say yogurt? “北京酸奶” [Beijing suan nai]. Beijing yogurt is pretty famous in the Chinese community. It lived up to its reputation. Super fine and smooth and creamy. Tart, too, which I like. I had a glass of regular yogurt and one topped with kiwi. My mom took the one with blueberries. I’m actually craving some now that I’m writing this.

I really regret not stuffing my face there. While the acid reflux and nausea that follow the ingestion of incredible amounts of food is highly unpleasant, it would have been worth the discomfort. Some of the most amazing food I’ve had was at the breakfast buffet at the Sofitel Wanda Beijing, hands down.

sofitel beijing breakfast

The chawanmushi (top right) was heavenly! Never had better–the egg was so silky it was like, well, silken tofu. Golden velvet for my mouth.

pan fried bunTwo flights in two days. Complete exhaustion and sleep-deprivation, but totally worth it. Urumqi was a world different.While wandering through the buffet in search of good eats, my eyes latched onto something that I have yearned for years: pan-fried vegetable buns. “素生煎包” [su sheng jian bao]. (“素” meaning vegetarian.) There used to be one vegetarian restaurant in San Gabriel that made these, but it closed before I was even halfway through elementary school. My mom took me there often because their vegetarian pan-fried buns and soup dumplings (“小寵包” [xiao long bao]) were absolutely flawless. For over a decade, my family and I have not been able to find any place, any where that made these–not even in Taiwan, where vegetarianism is commonplace. I swiped 6 of the remaining buns in the basket and excitedly returned to our table to share them with my mom. Heaven in the form of soft, white bread with crunchy, golden bottoms, enveloping fresh, stir-fried mustard greens. I was Anton Ego taking his first bite of ratatouille–first-class time travel to my early childhood. If only we didn’t have a flight to catch at noon!

urumqi airport

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