Monday, April 20, 2009


I had heard a legend of the so-called "hottest chicken wings in Beijing" from a friend yesterday. Upon hearing such tales, I wasted no time in getting directions to this magical destination. So today, I gathered two other brave souls, and we embarked in devouring chicken appendages forged by lucifer himself in the fieriest depths of hell.

The wings in Chinese are called 变态辣翅 (pronounced bian tai la chi), meaning "Abnormally Spicy Chicken Wings", and for some reason they are referred to as BT辣 everywhere they are known.

To help explain how hot these wings were, on the wall of the restaurant is a message board, where people how have attempted the wings can write stories / warnings to other patrons.

The headline is translated as "Abnormally Spicy Wings 'Heroes' Message Board"

Roughly translated as "So hot it makes me want to die"

"So (Chinese expletive) hot!"

We took a look at the menu and ordered 2 of the BT wings for each of us, as well as 2 more of another kind of wings the waiter said was even hotter. To complement our wings, we also took on some less insane bbq squid, eggplant, mantou (Chinese bread), and green peppers.

We squirmed for a little while waiting for our destiny to come upon us. When it finally appeared in all its firetruck-red soaked glory, I went for the hottest ones, while the others made the much more sane move of working their way up to it.

It was certainly a delayed effect. The spice took a good 10-20 seconds before it really showed its true colors. I won't lie, it was extremely spicy - so hot even after I finished all four wings, even the bread tasted spicy for about 5 minutes, it might have been the hottest thing I've ever tried...but for some reason I expected more.

I lived through it, so for that reason I think I feel a bit disappointed. On the upside, I was told that they were too spicy to have any flavor, but I found the opposite to be true. They had a fantastic flavor. I would certainly come back here again, and not just for the fun of trying something ridiculous.

Henry preparing for his spicy journey

I'm so ready.

Bite #2

Hard at work

We struggle to smile as our lips are aflame

3 down, 1 to go

As with any spicy meal, the degree of hotness is measured by how sweaty my bald spot is. Although it's quite cool out, my hair is soaked.

The remnants (we joined the clean plate club it)

Buckets of Goo

The other night I was enjoying some lovely 羊肉串 (bbq lamb meat on a stick) in a dark alley some may refer to as 'shady'. (It's a place quite at home to me, but the vast majority of foreigners here avoid eating food on this street.)

As I sat savoring the delicious lamb flesh, in the distance I saw a gentleman stroll up the alley carrying a large white bucket. When he approached the entrance of the restaurant, he set his bucket down, and proceeded to lift up the large rock used as a stepping stone to the doorway. He set it to the side, and reached deep into the hole that this large rock covered. He then lifted up a trap door, hiding some sort of goodness below.

By this point, I was on the edge of my seat. What in the world is he hiding under here? It can't be a safe. That wouldn't make sense. But what would you store under a rock in the street?

The man reached into his bucket and pulled out a metal bowl, then reached deep into the hole and started scooping out some sort of goop and dumped it into the bucket. I tried my hardest, but without causing a scene could not figure out what substance it was. It was dark, grey or perhaps brown, and very thick. Whatever it was looked absolutely filthy.

When the bucket was full, he closed the trap door, covered the hole with the rock, and walked back down the alley with his full bucket of filth.

Filling the bucket with filth

Covering the hole
I'm kicking myself for not being more assertive and asking him what he was doing or at least taking a full video of it. Perhaps next time I walk down the alley, if no one is looking I'll pull up the rock and take a look for myself. The curiosity is driving me mad.

One haircut, please. Hold the insults.

Getting a haircut on campus is an amazingly convenient experience. The shop is located only about a 5-minute walk from my dorm, is open every night until 10:30 P.M., and costs about $1.25 for a shampoo and haircut. While only 2 people are responsible for cutting your hair at this location (instead of the 5 people required in other experiences), they do a decent job at managing my simple haircut. However, from tonight's experience, evidently you can't demand excellent customer service for this price.

As I sat down at the sink to have my hair washed, a girl wets my hair and begins:

"Wow, you have so much grey hair!"

"Yeah...I know."


"You know, your hair really is bad."

"What do you mean, 'bad'? How is it bad?"

"It's bad's just bad...look at it."


"You've really lost a lot of hair on top, too. It's so thin!"

(laughing) "Yeah..."

"You should really take better care of your hair. It's terrible. Okay, we're done."

I move to the guy who will cut my hair. He dries off my hair a bit more, takes one look at it, and began:

"You know, you're really starting to get thin on top!"

"Yeah...she told me."

This continued for a while...

Fragrant Spring Onion Sauce Explodes Cow Son

It's no secret that I absolutely love collecting photos of amazingly mistranslated English signs and menus I've ran across here. It's a bit like a scavenger hunt across the whole country.

I've recently come across a site online that has posted the end-all be-all of Chinglish menus. It's over. There's almost no point in continuing...this one is just too perfect. It really has it all.

The best part is that after looking at the Chinese, I really have no clue how most of these translations happened - I can't imagine a computer program or human being ever translating certain characters in this way.

Some favorites:

Good to Eat Mountain
The Farmer is Small to Fry King
Slippery Meat in King's Vegetables in Pillar
A West Bean Pays the Fish a Soup
Add a Peaceful
Cowboy Leg Beautiful Pole
Double-boiled Forest Frog Plaster w/Coconut Juice
Every Form Rape

and last, but definitely not least:

Fuck the Salt (Beautiful Pole) Duck Chin