21 February 2012

China Tour ~ Xiamen Part 2 - Gulangyu Island

It's Christmas Day on Piano Island with no sign of Liberace or Richard Clayderman,  not even Tim Freedman, so we make do with fish balls, jellied tentacles worms and warm corn drinks.

One of the places to visit in Xiamen is Gulangyu Island, an old colonial outpost just off from the main city. Also known as Piano Island because of the music you sometimes hear while walking around, you can stay here as a quieter alternative to the city.

We try some street snackage before getting a boat to the island.

Mmmm. Without a doubt this is the worst thing we ate in China: a cold, deep fried slab of tasteless undercooked taro. It's like battered rubber. No wonder the stall was empty.

There's a couple of ferry options to the island, we take the low-rent one.

Ah, the beautiful coastal scenery of industrial southern China.

On Gulangyu Island it's beach party time, China style. Move over Gidget.

Gulangyu Island attracts a swarm of domestic tourists and eating options galore.

On another day, another stomach, another life we would have hooked in at this seafood restaurant by the shore. It was the very first thing as you got off the ferry - and you never trust the first food options you come across, do you?

Fried things stall.

Gulangyu Island has lots of great little hole in the wall restaurants.

We find this lady serving Fujian fishballs on a quiet part of the island in front of a block of low rise apartments. We knew we had to try out her dishes.

Our broth is taken from a big pot and warmed up on a hotplate.

There's a whole range of fishballs to try.

The Fujian fishballs are sublime, fresh balls of pounded fishy flesh with pork mince inside. There's a few varieties of fish ball but it's this Chinese rissole that we love so much. Served in a plain broth. A perfect morning tea.

Somebody else orders a grilled fish - we want what they're having...

Fruit and veg shop in the winding backstreets.

This duck dude drew a crowd.

Some kind of herbal stuffed duck. How we wish we could jump into the screen and try this, we had no stomach room at the time.

Fruit salesmen - dig the chilled passionfruit sucked through with a straw. The fruit was chilled and delicious, except for the green guava fruit which was under ripe to our tastes (Shawn would say it sucked).

Tops lady serving souvenirs and snackages.

We'll have one of those, her sign says a Hakka style dumpling.

Steamed dumpling filled with savoury mince, a Chinese rissole, too good.

BBQ time. Is there no end to what can be shoved on a stick?

He's saying "can you scroll up one photo and get me some of that fish!"

Random vendor lady. Like any tourist area in Asia, there's generally lots of stalls selling the same stuff.

Tourists and vendos about to be washed away.

The restaurant at the end of the universe. We noticed the octopus on a stick came frozen and pre-prepared by the box.

A husband and wife stuff-on-sticks team.

The Chinese equivalent of the beach cafe from Home and Away. How do you say Flamin Heck Ailsa in Mandarin?

Durian lady. Alison became obsessed with the sleeve protectors we saw so many ladies wearing, a seperate elastisized sleeve worn over your regular clothes. They came in a multitude of colours and varities. Not sure if they are for warmth, to extend the life of your clothes or for ease of cleaning or all of these, but most women we saw wore them.

More party food.

Grilling seafood. There was some hard core spruiking happening around this and a number of stalls nearby, which always puts us off.

Free samples! What the picture doesn't show is the five deep scrum of freebie hungry punters.

We pick this joint at random for Christmas lunch...

Does anything say XMAS more than jellied tentacles? We thought these were tenticles but a reader later told us they were in fact worms, Sipuncula worms to be precise - see wikipedia . It was OK, kinda plain, but we weren't rushing back for seconds... Worms for Christmas lunch - do you get any cooler than that?

Fried rice does say XMAS to us though - Shawn's mum makes a batch of fried rice every XMAS day, to go with scallop mornay, satay pork, fresh prawns and ham.

These sweet dumpling masters were doing a roaring trade. They rolled each piece of mochi like dumpling in sweet powder, black sesame and sold them quick as a flash. There queue was about 30 punters long.

Dumpling hipster dufus.

Takokayi - Japanese octopus balls. Japanese food is everywhere.

Gulangyu Island is chockas with beautiful colonial architecture. Some of it polished for tourists and other bits are beautifully run down and original.

China isn't really a coffee country, we never thought we'd be so pleased to see an insta-Nescafe machine. Note the beer and instant noodle display on the top, in case you want something else with your caffeine.

Back in Xiamen we find this corn drink stand, gotta try this.

Warm corn drink, nicer than it sounds. Like a blended cream corn. We reckon they'd go nuts for it in Japan.

Northern Muslim fruit and nut guy - these dudes were everywhere.

Shawn sidles up to this guy to see what's in the pots but the dude isn't willing to engage. One of the diner's yells out from inside "hotpot!"

So much to eat, only two stomachs, and half-a-brain.

We love China.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wow, some serious street eats! The duck looks fit for a restaurant though

  3. The cat looks like it is on a stick as well, though through it's head...Shanghai

  4. More Chinese cats! Love! :)

  5. Durian - vomit! I tried a Durian pancake in Singapore and I seriously wanted to rip my tounge out after tasting it. Blah!

    I do like that passionfruit trick though...I'm going to try that at home!

    1. Agreed it's a taste you really love or hate with gusto. For me it's up there with smelly cheese in the love stakes.

  6. Sleeve protectors - haha my mum wears them too when she's gardening our lychee plantation in HK, they are to protect her clothes.
    And lor mai chi's (the mochi's you saw)! They are my fav!! Glutinous rice flour mixed with water and sugar then steamed to a gooey paste which then gets rolled into sugar, sesame and peanuts!

    1. Sleeve protectors seemed to be on every woman, even just shopping. Maybe they have a sleeve protector shop somewhere.

      mmmmmm mochi and lor mai chi - yum.

  7. Some Chinese people dare not eat it after they know that "jellied tentacles" are made by a kind of sea worm. Its name is Sipuncula. But I like it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sipuncula

    1. Wow, we didn't know we were eating worms for Christmas lunch, how cool! Thanks so much for telling us!

  8. "sweet dumplings" were not quite dumplings. It is called Ci Ba in Fujian. They are made by the rice flour, not the wheat flour. They are close relatives of Mochi in my opinion, but without the stuffings. It is also much softer and not that sweet. Maybe in Japan the fresh Mochi is similar, but I've never been there.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).