Chinese Breakfast Crepe - Jian Bing?
I think that's what they're called, based on what my googling. I just got back from a short vacation in Beijing, and we bought these for breakfast from a streetcorner stand and I fell in love. It's a savory crepe that's filled with scallions, sesame seeds, an egg, two different sauces (maybe something like hoisin and a bean paste) and a hunk of puffy fried dough, then folded and stuffed into a baggie to eat by hand on the go. I wish I could've had them for breakfast every morning! I was just about to post to see if anybody knew a place to get these in NY, when I noticed there's already a thread. But there's only one suggestion (a cart near the 6 train entrance at Canal and Lafayette) with no report back of whether it was successful. I'd be so excited to find a place to get them in NY, I'd even get up early for them!
Any ideas? In Manhattan or other boroughs?
Not sure if the one post that you found on Jian Bing pancakes was this particular long posting (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/338677) , but this thread has the title of “Scallion Pancake with Egg,” and there are a large number of posts (50 replies) discussing the Jian Bing or Scallion pancake with egg and where one could possibly find them, but the end result of the long thread is that there are probably no Jian Bing pancakes to be found in NYC.
We are with you about the tastiness of the Jian Bing pancakes, but we have yet to find or hear about any Jian Bing vendors in any of the Chinatowns. Since the Jian Bing is a northern Chinese food, it would probably show up first in the Flushing Chinatown, but we frequent the Flushing Chinatown quite often and have not seen a Jian Bing vendor yet. Our guess is that if none of the NYC Chinatowns have them, it is doubtful that there are any in NYC. Like your self, we first ate a Jian Bing while on vacation in Beijing. After a long day of sightseeing and hungry, we came upon this street vendor with his little round stove on a cart and we ordered several Jian Bings. It was unexpected how good this simple little snack tasted, and especially when one is hungry, it tasted doubly good.
Good luck in trying to find them, and of course, if you find a store or street vendor that sells them, we would be very interested in knowing the name of the store, since we enjoyed them very much also.
re: Brian S
Thanks Brian S for the info.
The funny thing is that we have been in that mall many times, but have never seen a Jian Bing being made. We will have to make a more explicit and thorough check of the vendors at that Flushing Chinatown mall in search of the elusive Jian Bing pancake the next time we are in Flushing Chinatown.
Jian bing guo zi is the name, and we've been on the lookout for a decent version in NYC for years.
Yes, the stall in the J&L mall in Flushing does have it listed on the menu.
Squid kun’s Jan 27, 2007 post here has the photo of the menu. See the first column to the left:
It also fits the description in this recent Village Voice article of the “specialty” of what appears to be that same stall (except for the 50 cent discrepancy in price):
"When asked for the stall's specialty ($2), the dude cracks an egg, whips it, and pours it on the griddle. When it finishes cooking, he folds the egg around one of the blistered frybreads on the counter, first swabbing it with a tangy sauce. The result is yellow, crunchy, and scrumptious."
Over a year ago now we saw a jian bing guo zi prodiced by this stall, and it did not look that appealing, so we have not ordered one.
But after all this hype, we should; maybe they were just having an off day, or it could depend on who makes it
We had already been burned once in Flushing by a jian bing guo zi offered at the now shuttered 2 story food court that used to be on Main St. back toward Northern Blvd. It was not the jian bing guo zi we had in mind.
We are particularly wary of jian bing guo zi because of an episode in Shanghai last year -- the two stalls that we found selling them were manned by immigrants from elsewhere in China, and the product was not much better than what we found in Flushing.
Later in Beijing we halfheartedly kept our eyes open for jian bing guo zi stalls. In the end we did not come across any.
Anyone who has had an authentic Tianjin-style jian bing guo zi and can comment on the J&L stall’s version would be most welcome.
Incidentally, there is a sign in this J&L stall indicating it is halal.
Also, the Voice article says the proprietor is from Tianjin. And the link to the other post above indicates a customer was there who hailed from Tianjin.
Is someone from Tianjin running a halal/islamic stall? Is the proprietor a Hui from Tianjin?
I saw those enormous frybreads but was turned off by the sheer fried-ness of it, but if this is the jian bing, then wow, I'd love to get it. what I miss is the "da bing bao shiao bing" from Taiwan's Shihlin market which is almost a miniature version of this thing, but much smaller, with crunchy pieces broken up and wrapped by another crepe, along with various sauces, fresh herbs and condiments.
Thanks Eades for your detailed and informative response.
From the description by Sietsema of the specialty at that particular stall, it does not appear to describe the Jian Bing that we ate many times while in Beijing. The Sietsema article describes the Jian Bing being made as follows:
"the dude cracks an egg, whips it, and pours it on the griddle. When it finishes cooking, he folds the egg around one of the blistered frybreads on the counter, first swabbing it with a tangy sauce. The result is yellow, crunchy, and scrumptious."
Our understanding of a Jian Bing is that a crepe pancake batter is first ladled onto the round cooking surface and after cooking for a minute, than an egg is cracked onto the crepe and mixed into the crepe and than the pancake is flipped over. After more cooking, a sweet paste is brushed onto the crepe pancake, scallions and other spices are sprinkled, and a fried cracker is put onto the crepe and the crepe pancake is folded around the fried cracker and the Jian Bing is finally served to the customer. What Sietsema described in his article lacks the crepe batter for the pancake. Here are several Youtube videos showing Jian Bings being made:
a. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjkIaE... (this video has a cool rotating cooking surface, which we did not see ourselves while in Beijing
Take a look at these videos and advise if this is the same thing you saw being made at the stall in the J&L Mall on Main Street. Notice that all of the Jian Bings in the videos are made pretty much the same way with minor variations. The person making the Jian Bing with the rotating cooker and in one of the other videos did not flip the pancake over, however. While Sietsema’s “Jian Bing” has the egg and the fried cracker, it lacks the crepe pancake, hence despite what the menu might say, it is not a true Jian Bing pancake, unless Sietsema forgot to describe the crepe batter, but since Sietsema is a professional writer, this would probably be unlikely.
But the next time we are at the J&L Mall, we will look up the stall with the Jian Bing pancake menu item. Seeing is believing.
Note: We had originally made an additional post to this thread with the above Youtube video links to let everyone who views this thread see what a Jian Bing pancake looks like, and one additional slightly off-topic link for some very unconventional Beijing street fare, but our entire post was deleted we assume as being off-topic. With the present heavy hand of Chowhound moderators, it is not clear if this post will be allowed to stay, although we have self-censored the off-topic link to increase our chances of “staying alive.”
"...unless Sietsema forgot to describe the crepe batter, but since Sietsema is a professional writer, this would probably be unlikely..."
Actually, from a Chinese person's point of view, I have found incorrect informations and translations in Sietsema's writing when it comes to Chinese food. He's not alone in this. I don't expect non-Chinese people to get everything perfectly in concept or in understanding the Chinese food, though, since it is just a different culture altogether. I would have to go back and find the stuff I've read that made me shake my head and just give up. Often it's not worth pointing out, because most people don't really care, anyway. Still, from time to time, it does get to me to read the general chowhound public's take on Chinese food based on half-truth and guesses (some very good ones).
But, aside from all that, the place at J & L Mall does indeed offer Jian Bing Guo Zi. It does have a pancake/crepe, but I didn't like their version, either! It did not have the street vendor taste, I'm sorry to say. I think if I remember correctly, Bigjeff have also had it and didn't really like it, either.
And I would not say whether it's "authentic" or not, unless you want to give the Chinese street vendors a label : "...Nah, these people are not from the "Street" region..they can't make an authentic jian bing guo zi...." (half kidding)
Let's just stick with whether it's tasty or not, forget the who and the where's.
well, I didn't have it, but I saw it, and I couldn't comprehend how you could wrap something around it since it looked so fried. It was like a giant flattened empanada except with no filling, and looked nothing like the thin crackers in those youtube videos which seemed to collapse instantly when under the crepemakers tools. but in the interest of empirical science, I will definitely have one, the next time I'm there picking up my muslim big breads.
wait, so maybe you didn't see the fried wheat sheets, then...because they wouldn't make the Jian Bing Guo Zi ahead of time. They'd make it only when someone orders it. Mine came pretty late, and was already cold. The fried wheat sheets i saw were nothing like empanada. They were rectangular sheets with bubbles, blistards all over.
So, just to clarify: They DID have those extremely blistard-y dark, thin sheets/cracker laying around, but they didn't put that in my jian bing guo zi. Instead they put Youtiao, which of course, didn't have the crackling effect. Plus I was too full when it finally got made, and therefore didn't enjoy it much.
ya when I saw it, it was stacks and stacks of the stuff, definitely bubbly, blistery, etc. when I said empanada, I meant like . . . . deep fried and crackly and thick, like a huge flattened chebureki or something.
so they put you-tiao? that's weird. again, all this talk, and no action, I gotta get myself over there!
http://www.chowhound.com/posts/22908/... check out this yemini jian bing....
but yeah, when i had it at the mall way back when, they put youtiao in mine..actually, i think in some areas the Guo Zi refers to youtiao...But then they obviously put the deep fried wheat sheet in the Jian Bing they made for Sietsema. Maybe just to be safe you can ask for Jian Bing Bao Shao Mai. (Shao Mai being what this stall calls those deep fried sheets, not to be confused with the Cantonese shu mai (or however it's spelled)
you know, i looked up my references again, and yes, Guo Zi is usually referring to You tiao in Beijing. In the same reference, written by a Beijianese in exile in Taiwan (way back when the nationalist first went to Taiwan), he said that Shao bing, You Tiao with Soy milk, isn't really what the Beijing locals have for breakfast..that's more of a Mainlander in Taiwan evolution, or as he said, that it's probably from the South.
Anyway, and then I searched online for Jian Bing Guo Zi, and guess what? Tianjin (the city the guys at J&L Mall are from) is the proper place where this particular breakfast food started. In the receipe I have attached, they specify that the Guo Zi can be either Youtiao, or what they call "Bao2 Chui4" 薄脆 (which literally means "thin" "crispy"). The article says that a good Jian Bing should be made not with regular white flour, but with "green bean" flour, which I'm not sure if it's talking about Mung Beans, or some other type of legumes. The article said that the Tianjin version came over time from Shandong (East of the mountain) region, but then in the next page (not cited here) Shandong's own proper version of Jian Bing's recipe calls for a special blend of Yam and Corn flour.
In any case, this article also mentioned the Guo Ba Cai,( which is that soup with dried cut up Da Bing that we've explored in the J&L's thread.) as another item that's also of Shandong influence and that is a typical accompaniment to the Jian Bing Guo Zi.
But, I just want to say again, this does NOT mean that the guys at J & L Mall will give you a verison that's like the one you enjoyed so much in China or in Taiwan! So, please don't be disappointed. Besides, often, when i crave something, it's not just that food, but the air and water, and the surrounding and maybe even the company, the whole package that I miss. I'd still say, get a plane ticket and let's go already....!
http://www.csonline.com.cn 2004年04月28日3时47分 星辰在线
We may be completely out of luck trying to find decent jian bing guo zi here--
There was a story in the Wall Street Journal today that indicated that it is not possible to find decent jian bing even in Shandong these days.
The author and her grandfather visited his hometown in Shandong. She commented, “Dezhou, a relatively poor, but improving city about a 3½-hour train ride from Beijing, is a very different place from what my grandfather remembers. He speaks wistfully about the sweet watermelon, fresh dates and "jian bing," or paper-thin circular sheets made from corn-meal he recalls from childhood. These days, jian bing is considered tasteless, "old-fashioned" food by his grand-nieces, my cousins.”
The Flushing search must be truly futile.
Maybe Mr. Jean-George Vongerichten is our only hope according to Gary Soup's post. I have no doubt in Vongerichten's ability to see the parallels in multi-cultural cuisine and to be able to recreate something magical. I'm also impressed to hear that he's out there sampling street food.
This is how it might go: Jian Bing gets picked up by the Western world, turns into the next fad, and then gets re-discovered by the streets of China again...it will then be considered "new-fashioned".
Unfortunately, I just KNOW I will never be able to afford it by then.
The Shandong style jian bing/dan bing is still pretty easy to find in Shanghai, especially in the University District (Tongji-Fudan environs). Here's a YouTube video of the making of exactly the style that's popular in Shanghai. The poster told me it was shot just outside the Shanghai University of Economics, but I know of some others in the area. You'll stand in line and watch them hand-making your very own jian bing for the princely sum of 25 cents or so!
re: Gary Soup
Just got back from China. The jian bing I had in Shanghai was very tasty, much better than the two I had in Beijing. The Shanghai version never flips the egg part onto the griddle whereas they do that in Beijing. Flipping it seems to make it a wet mess instead of the perfect combination of crispy and saucy.
Would kill for the Shanghai version in the states, but not the Beijing version.
What you are thinking about is probably the Tianjin version:
The video, and what's most commonly found in Shanghai, is known as the Shandong version. Some stalls, in fact, like the one in another video from Shanghai, specifically advertise "Shandong Jian Bing":
The crispy thing put in this version is not youtiao at all, but what I believe is a fried doufu "sheet".
Thanks for confirming that one of the stalls at the J&L Mall does indeed made proper Jian Bing Guo Zi pancakes, but we are saddened to hear from you that the Jian Bing pancakes there were not tasty. The Jian Bings we ate in Beijing were all tasty no matter where we bought them as long as we bought them from a street vendor who specialized in Jian Bings and made them in a round Jian Bing griddle. One time we bought a Jian Bing from a restaurant that was cooked in a frying pan and it just did not taste as good as the ones from street vendors who specialized only in making Jian Bings.
We have been to the J&L mall numerous times, but never saw a Jian Bing being made there or seen any line for them, hence one possibility as to why the Jian Bings at the J&L mall are not good is that there is insufficient demand for the vendor to always have fresh ingredients (crepe batter, sweet bean paste, scallions, spices, and fried crackers) and to have an absolute super hot griddle (we assume that the stall had an authentic round Jian Bing griddle as shown in the many Youtube videos in our previous posting) to cook fresh and good tasting Jian Bings. Another possibility is the one you suggested in your last post in the thread titled “Northern Chinese Breakfast” that it is:
“due more to the lack of the right equipment and ingredients than to where they are from. Some things just aren't duplicable, and some people just aren't as much a stickler in wanting to fully recreate what they've had from home.”
And the final reason may be that this vendor just does not know how to make good Jian Bings, which is just too bad for us Jian Bing starved Flushing Chinatown denizens. But we believe that sooner, or later with all the northern Chinese immigrants surging into NYC, someone will open a Jian Bing street vendor cart in Flushing Chinatown.
As to your observations that:
“I don't expect non-Chinese people to get everything perfectly in concept or in understanding the Chinese food, though, since it is just a different culture altogether. I would have to go back and find the stuff I've read that made me shake my head and just give up. Often it's not worth pointing out, because most people don't really care, anyway. Still, from time to time, it does get to me to read the general chowhound public's take on Chinese food based on half-truth and guesses (some very good ones),”
we would tend to agree with you about this for the general non-Asian population (all chowhound readers excepted of course) to a greater degree and to a lesser degree for the professional food critics, since they would be expected to do their homework and get things right or at least not to make inaccurate statements to mislead the reader.
Hopefully, we will get a chance to check out the Jian Bing at the J&L Mall shortly.
As to your suggestion to “get a plane ticket and let's go already,” to China to satisfy one’s craving for a Jian Bing, we are definitely with you about this, but our wallet unfortunately doesn’t agree. We wish we had that sort of freedom where one can make decisions without regard to cost.
Thanks also for taking the time to research the origins of the Jian Bing in the earlier posts, but unfortunately we have to sheepishly admit that we are unable to read Chinese.
You, me, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten would get up early for them, I reckon. Here's an evocative description of "the best breakfast in the world" from the late, great, R W Apple's piece on Shanghai (ji dan bing is just another name for jian bing):
"There were crepes at other stalls - delicate cong you bing, or scallion pancakes, and ji dan bing, a kind of breakfast burrito. To make that, a short-order wizard spread batter on a drum-shaped grill with what looked like a painter's spatula, broke an egg on top, added a dab of fermented soybean sauce and threw in some chives, coriander and mustard-plant leaves. The whole process took just a minute. Then he slapped either a salty cruller called you tiao or a piece of crisply fried bean curd skin across the finished product and rolled it up like a scroll. Mr. Vongerichten, in seventh heaven, pronounced it "the best breakfast in the world."
I realize it has been many years since this thread started but it is the first link on a google search for "jian bing New York" so I thought I would put this reply here anyway for the hungry searchers to follow.
I asked my Chinese friend to help me find jian bing in NYC after failing on my own to find it through English-speaking channels. He quickly found this restaurant:
which appears to be Tianjin-style (people from Shandong will debate whether this is the true Jian Bing, but in my experience it is hard to tell the difference). This is like a block away from the JL mall as far as I can tell.
Our weakness as simple-minded Westerners is that we cannot search in Chinese. Here are the characters for Jian Bing Guozi: 煎饼果子
And then you can even include New York (niu yue: 纽约) and Flushing (fa la sheng: 法拉盛).
I am not in NYC but if anyone can go check this out and see if it's authentic, I would be super curious to hear.
Chinese person here. Can confirm that place has Jian Bing Guozi(煎饼果子). I ate it approx. 2 months ago, and while all the components were there (outer shell, youtiao, egg, sauce, scaliions), it didn't taste very good...certainly nowhere close to what I ate in China when I was little.
PS: Yelp listing here, has pics of the jian bing. http://www.yelp.com/biz/sheng-jin-eat...
PS2: In case you can't tell from the pics, the menu is entirely in Chinese. And I'm pretty sure the owners speak minimal english so brush up your mandarin or bring a buddy.