This is a mega-post on everything worth eating in Qingdao.
I’m a total travel foodie, and hence made it a point to visit Qingdao’s two most popular street food haunts: Pichai Courtyard and Taitung Night Market,
For all who’s seen my Instagram stories, yes, starfish is actually edible!! Despite its tough outer skin, a cooked and dried starfish is easily broken apart. The edible texturised bits are all in its legs, so you’ll need to break its golden armour to get to the soft and moist goods, which would taste like savoury mushy walnuts soaked in soy sauce if you can imagine. I wouldn’t exactly describe this as particularly ‘tasty’, but it would be an interesting experience for your taste buds.
Where we were at is the Pichai Courtyard （劈柴院） in Qingdao, a hidden alley bustling with street food vendors and eateries offering some of the freshest seafood in the city, and exotic food appealing to the adventurous pallet. We spent a good 1.5 hours walking back and forth the street market. It’s not the most comfortable place to linger at, so I wouldn’t recommend allocating too much time in your itinerary for this location. What I do enjoy about Pichai Courtyard is the wholesome cultural experience. You’ll also get to appreciate premium Chinese tea, watch authentic Chinese opera, and purchase vintage souvenirs and trinkets all in the same alleyway.
If you’ve got a huge appetite, the sheer variety of different seafood cuisines will most definitely fill your belly! A more common dish is served in shells of sea urchins, filled with edible egg yolks (made from the actual egg of the sea urchin). When eaten warm, it tastes like a less salty version of the Japanese chawanmushi.
For the less adventurous folks, you’ll find lobster roe dumplings, carrot cakes, sausages, fried rice, steamed cockles, pig organs soup, rice cakes, etc, being offered by all these tiny stalls.
Exotic foods are abound, and at the famed ‘昆虫宴’, which can be loosely translated to ‘Banquet of Insects’, you can literally feast on all the bugs you can ever imagine eating. Fancy some fried scorpions, spiders, caterpillars, silkworms, lizards, locusts or grasshoppers?
None of these were palatable to me, so no thank you. Perhaps one day I’ll find the courage to crunch on a fried scorpion.
So back to the more appealing foods, the beancurd with fried rice was one of my favourites, as well as the gigantic flavoured squid legs on a stick. And everything can be washed down with a cheap pint of Tsingtao Beer available from most stalls. I was a tad disappointed by the smelly tofu we chose from one of the stalls, which ain’t as smelly as I would have liked. I do wish I had a bigger appetite though, there was just too much to try.
So I captured this shot below of the inconspicuous entrance to Pichai Courtyard, from Zhongshan Road. Keep your olfactory senses on high alert for the Thai-style fried Durians along this entryway, and you might just find your way into Pichai Yuan.
Pichai Courtyard 劈柴院
Zhongshan Lu, Shinan District, Qingdao (青岛市市南区中山路)
While Pichai Courtyard has been preserved to bear cultural significance, in contrast, Taitung Night Market is surrounded by malls, heavy traffic intersections and is the central hub of both shopping and entertainment for locals and tourists alike. The night market covers a huge area along Taidong Road and combined with its surrounding shopping area, this zone is one of the most bustling area in the city, with ~100,000 visitors every day. The entire street comes to life at 5:30PM and winds down early by my standards at 10:00PM, so best to get there early to enjoy the best of the city’s nightlife.
We didn’t have much stomach space remaining after a huge dinner, but we did try the 烤鸭肠 or grilled duck intestines on a stick (which were surprisingly chewy and flavourful), as well as the 肉夹馍 or meat pancakes (though some insist to call this the meat folder in English) and cheesy sausages covered in fried dough. The meat pancake was huge enough to be a meal on its own, and I highly recommend trying this particular stall with a really long queue of locals.
Everything at Taitung Night Market is really inexpensive, as compared to Pichai Courtyard. I mean, 120 sticks of duck intestines for just 30 yuan (SGD 5.70)?
The meat folder/pancakes are essentially meat loaves flanked in croissant-textured outer skins, and grilled to golden-brown perfection.
Some of these were actually Taiwanese street foodfare, as is this cheesy fried sausage we had.
You could have a fancier dinner in the malls nearby, and come to Taitung Night Market for its variety of desserts on offer. There’s just too much to choose from. Just some pictures I took before I indulged my sweet-tooth in a box of chilled durian puffs.
I can’t decide on a favourite street food, but if I had to choose, I’d say the meat folder/pancakes.
Let me know your favourite!
Taitung Night Market
TaiDong 1st Road (near McDonalds and Wal-Mart)
ShiBei District > TaiDong Shopping Area
台东夜市, 台东一路, 中国山东省青岛市