Get happy in Tianjin

08:41, April 28, 2010      

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Another three-day weekend is upon us, and perhaps this time you want to avoid the drudgery of airports and flight delays when trying to get to your chosen vacation spot. Why not keep it simple? In 28 minutes only, you could be in Tianjin, the one city out of 16 that has topped Horizon Key Research Company's"Chinese happiness index survey" for two years running.

Priority No. 1: where to eat

Tianjiners start their happy days with plentiful breakfasts. Don't be surprised to see individuals of all ages wolfing down several dishes apiece at 6 am. Follow your nose to one of many street stands selling ji'anbing guozi. Unlike Beijing's ji'an bing - Tianjingers vow their version is of higher quality and better tasting - the pancake used to wrap a piece of deep-fried crisp dough is made of pure green bean paste and no flour, making it healthier too. Another popular dish is guobacai, strip-shaped pancake of green bean paste and millet that's served with about 20 condiments, like sesame paste or preserved bean curd, as well as soy bean milk or jellied tofu.

Da Fu Lai guobacai

This famous breakfast restaurant chain provides original Tianjin breakfasts and snacks in a guaranteed-to-be-clean dining environment.

Main address: No. 20, Dingzigu Road, Hongqiao District

Tel: 022-2657573

1928 Restaurant

Like the name says, from the decorations to the waiters' uniforms, this is the Tianjin of 1928. A rickshaw is parked at the entrance next to statures of street vendors selling traditional Tianjin snacks, and a local show of bamboo "clapper talk" (kuai banr) and Chinese bass drums is held nightly in the local Tianjin dialect.

The dishes aren't fancy (this tends to be the case in most Tianjin restaurants) - the priority for locals is on home-cooked weir (flavor). No matter where you go, for true Tianjin tastes, order layered rolls with shrimp paste, gluten fried with dried shrimp, braised sea cucumber, slices of tender bamboo shoots with chicken meat or pork chops in sweet and sour sauce.

Address: F1, Lady's Street, No. 5, Nanmenwai Street, Heping District

Tel: 022-27281928

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