Kexima (可西玛) – Smallest Spanish Restaurant in China
120 Shanghai Road, just south of Taogu New Village Road (上海路120号)
This restaurant fits three cozy wooden tables (plus two more outside). Romantic and novel, there’s nothing like it. As the proprietor lived and studied cooking in Spain, the food is delicious, too. Especially recommended: jamón and paella. (Just be sure to ask for no Japanese mayonnaise on your paella unless you are one of those crazy people who likes it.)
Hezhouchun Muslim Food （河州春穆斯林美食)
Intersection of Huju Road and Longpanli (虎踞路和龙蟠里的路口）
If love delicious Xinjiang big plate chicken (大盘鸡 – da pan ji）and lamb skewers, this is the place to go. Dapanji is a must try in China. Hezhouchun’s version includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, green onions, and, of course, tender chicken. All is sauteed in a spicy, star anisey sauce.
Mrs. Zhang’s Jianbing
How delicious a simple street snack can be. Flour pancake with cracked egg, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, mustard pickles, scallions, crunchy cui bing (or fried breadstick (油条)) in the center. Delicious and cheap (5 yuan) for breakfast or anytime during the day.
Although there are stalls around the city, the one that is best and closest to campus is Mrs. Zhang’s stall. It sometimes changes location, but it can be found on side roads off Shanghai Road south from the HNC gate, either South Yinyang Ying (南阴阳营) or the intersection of Shanghai Road and Jinyin Jie (金银街).
Special Contribution by Khun Nyan Min Htet, aka Joy Joy
During my procrastination research session (I research about non-academic related things when I procrastinate), I came upon a student blog written by someone at the HNC some years ago. She wrote about a “secret” jiaozi (steamed dumplings) place on Nanjing Campus. In her blog, she talked about how her Chinese roommate took her to this place that even Chinese students don’t know about.
Upon reading the blog, I couldn’t resist the temptation of steamed dumplings. Having no idea where the place is on campus, I showed my roommate the picture of the dumpling and the place from the blog. He immediately said, “I know this place! I know it well!”
The rest of the story is history! My roommate and I went to this steamed dumpling place. It was located in a small alley behind the student dormitories on Nanjing Gulou Campus. The alley itself was crowded with clotheslines and tables full of people eating the steamed dumplings. A glance to the end of the alley resembles nothing more than a residential area of one-story houses. It is not a place where you could expect a dumpling restaurant.
I watched waves of people come and go to this steamed dumpling place. The old man and woman (presumably the owners) work fast in preparing the food. They take orders, pick out the uncooked dumplings based on the order, cook them, and pack them into white styrofoam containers. It is amazing how quick they are with this whole process and while still remembering the exact order from multiple customers. That was the most efficient multitasking right there.
The dumplings were really cheap! The shop only sells four kinds of steamed dumplings and they are steamed right before your eyes. I was a bit concerned about the quality of the dumplings at first only because of its cheap price. For 6 steamed dumplings of any kind, the price doesn’t exceed above 4RMB (US$ 0.60). For 18 steamed dumplings, it cost me about 11RMB (US$ 1.66).
Benjia Hanguo Liaoli (本家韩国料理)
(Back to Mitch)
108 Hanzhou Rd (新街口汉中路108号-1金轮大厦)
A chain started by a famous Korean chief, Benjia has two locations in Nanjing, both with 5-star ratings on Dazhong Dianping (and 9.2 ratings for taste). Like many Korean restaurants, it does have Korean bbq. But I recommend Benjia primarily for its quality Korean cuisine. It is a little bit more upscale than the average K-bbq restaurant. Long lines apt to form on weekends during peak dining hours.
Sakura (ramen and sushi)
87 Shanghai Road (上海路87号）
“Like a bar in a Murakami novel,” I once described it. By which I was referring to how aesthetically dark the lights were dimmed, the wooden tables, the Japanese movie posters and decorations that melded naturally with the wall, combined with the cool jazz that was playing.
Whisky Bar: Hermit
49 Qingyun Lane (青云巷49号)
Located inside a villa-style house, the first floor is supposed to be themed after Breaking Bad. The second floor is a real nice cocktail bar–the kind with Manhattans (曼哈顿) for 120 yuan (or so) a glass. What do you expect from the photo?
Honorable Mentions: Bottle, Yihe Guangchang （玄武区中山路286号羲和广场）
Finnegans Wake Irish Pub & Malt Room,No.6 Xinanli Street, No.400 Zhongshan South Road, Qinhuai District (whiskey room on second floor)
Beer (Speakeasy): Elephant Bar
Selection of all kinds of bottled beers from around the world. Not as expensive as Guns n Hops.
Down Nanxiucun Rd and on the road going south between Nanxiucun and Taogu New Village Road. One of the first buildings on the right when heading south. Big wooden door that blends in with the building. You can miss it. Open the door, and then you are in a different world.
Beer (Chinese Crafts): Tap Planet
Does Chinese beer taste good? Hell yes, it tastes good. You just have to drink the craft beers. Tap Planet has more than 30 beers from across the country on tap at any given time. It was billed as having “the biggest selection of beers on tap” when it was opened in 2015 by an HNC alumnus, Chase Stewart.
Local Brewer: Master Gao
Producing about half a dozen beers, Master Gao has its own brew pub located in 1912. Its beers also have distribution at convenience stores nearby the HNC; its Jasmine Tea Lager can be found at the Bai Jia Le on Shanghai Road and the Happy Lady on Jin Yin Jie.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, USA Today, the South China Morning Post, The Korea Times, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.