First order of business: buy a cheap mobile phone…sound familiar?
After our long bike ride, we took a shower and changed closed because we were DRENCHED with sweat. That felt a lot better, and Alison promptly fell asleep on the bed. As much as I wanted to do the same, it was 5pm and I needed to get a phone to be able to communicate with the tour guides on our next two stops.
I went back to the busy street near our hotel, and thankfully everything was now open. I scanned each shop on the side of the street where I remember seeing the shop and eventually it appeared: a small stall, no bigger than a closet with a glass case displaying his wares — many different iPhone types, and then a few cheepo Nokias. Perfect! RMB200 later (I’m sure I should have haggled and I’m sure I was over charged, but $35 for a new Nokia seemed fine to me…) I waked out with a working, texting phone! I immediately texted Michael’s number, and he immediately texted me back. Hooray!
Having gotten that done so quickly, I decided to figure out where Black Sesame Kitchen was located — we had signed up for a dumpling class there on Saturday. It’s also in a hutong, not far from our Courtyard 7 Hotel hutong, except they were located in a small bit that had been built into the courtyard space by subsequent generations of residents over the centuries, so you entered a gate into is best described as a “warren” turning left, then right, then right, then right, then left every few steps until you enter a small open space in front of Black Sesame Kitchen. I was greeted by Coco, one of the workers who speaks English, and I confirmed that I would arrive for the dumpling class the following day. She asked: where will you eat tonight? I said that we would like to find a nice duck restaurant, and she told me where she likes to eat duck, but then she said: Would you like to eat here? She showed me the menu, written up on a small chalkboard on the wall, and it looked like a compilation of many many dishes that I’ve cooked, or wanted to cook, but would love to experience when done by a skilled chinese chef. She said they had two open spaces around the two communal tables they sit people at, so I said I would ask my wife and get back to them.
The BSK space is probably no more than 100 feet from our hotel room, but, as they say in Maine, “you can’t get there from here.” Still its only a five minute walk around the warrens and the lanes, and when I described the option to Alison she enthusiastically said YES so I confirmed and we showed up at 7:00pm on the dot.
Continue reading “Beijing Black Sesame”