West in the East

On two different occasions, I had German food in China. Why there is a market for German food in China, I will never know for sure. Some MBA grad out there could come up with some theory on how German food is a good business model. Some advertising exec will come up with some explanation. Some food critic will make comparisons and contrasts between German cuisine and Chinese cuisine and how the palates are close enough… blah blah blah.

I will say this though; it was the Germans who taught the Chinese how to make beer. Whatever passes for Chinese beer is only a cheap knock off of German light beer. The eastern tastes buds find the heavier beers like Guinness too strong. Thus every Chinese brand is a light beer. This doesn’t mean the heavier stuff is not available; just not made locally.

Somehow, I ended up in Qingdao (also spelt Tsingtao) where the Germans first arrived in 1888. This is the Imagehome for the famous, you guessed it, Tsingtao beer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of me with the beer or anything like that. Instead, this picture was taken in the alley behind the large Catholic church. Sadly, the church is closed most days for various reasons.

It was in Yantai where a German restaurant opened. I ate there twice, once with a friend and the second time with my dad who was visiting me.

In 2011, I found myself in Dalian for business. I was there for only six weeks. My last full meal in Dalian was at a German restaurant with the other ex-pats.


I drank some beer and I ate a hearty rouladen. Rouladen is bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef and then cooked. And that was it.

So what made these two German restaurants memorable to me? How did they stay in business? First of all, both restaurants were not straight up restaurants. The one in Yantai had more of an European sports bar. The restaurant hosted World Cup football parties during the semifinals and finals. The restaurant had a stage and sound system for live bands performed. Likewise, the one in Dalian also had a stage for live bands to perform. In fact, that night in Dalian, a Filipino band performed American and Chinese songs. The Dalian restaurant also had a brewery inside.

Personally, I like German food. I like the heartiness of the stews and the meats. I am not too fond of sauerkraut but I will eat spatzle. I am not a beer drinker but I will enjoy a beer here and there that is matched up with the meat. Moreover, after seeing rice and noodles day after day, I do need western food.

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