Jianbing (煎饼), typically eaten on the streets of Beijing, are sweet or savoury crêpes made from wheat flour that are sold straight from the hot pan by street vendors.
I’m a big fan of French crêpes, and have been keen to try the Chinese version for a while now. Today, while strolling through London’s Chinatown, I got my chance!
Spying a jianbing stall set up outside one of the Chinese supermarkets, I jostled for my place in the queue and watched, spellbound, as the crêpes were skillfully poured, smoothed and spun into perfect circles, ready for their fillings.
I ordered my jianbing topped with two eggs, spring onion, coriander, wrapped around two youtiao (油條), which are long, crispy, deep-fried dough sticks, kinda like Mexican churros, but savoury), and a hot chilli sauce.
I was handed the steaming jianbing straight off the hotplate, wrapped in a brown paper bag, and I ran back to the office to devour it.
I can’t even describe how fantastically good my first Chinese crêpe was. Not unlike a good French crêpe, my jianbing was silky, crispy, spicy, and delicious. The youtiao in the centre was the perfect fluffy and spongy texture – almost like fried tofu. The spring onion added a little crunch, and the spicy chilli sauce added the perfect amount of flavour.
The stall I visited also offers a jianbing version with sausage and ‘crisp’, a Chinese cracker that is crunched and placed inside the crêpe before folding. Everything on the menu was under £3.00, excellent value for a quick, light lunch if you’re in London’s Chinatown. I can’t wait for my next visit!