Archive for August 26, 2015

Happy Qi Xi Day!

Today is a holiday often referred to as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, although that’s not entirely accurate. Anyway, here’s an article in English to give you an explanation of what is being celebrated today. If it doesn’t display correctly use this link. You can follow “The World of Chinese” on wechat for more articles like the one below.

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Our previous posts about Valentine’s Day and date ideas for Hohhot.

Hohhot Breakfasts: You Tiao

One of the most classic breakfasts in Hohhot is a you tiao paired with a cup of warm soy milk (dou jiang). You can get this from roadside vendors, in fast food restaurants, or in almost any place that sells breakfast.



My husband has been a fan of the Chinese History Podcast for a long time, but recently one of the episodes he listened to references the history behind this breakfast food. Here’s the link if you’re interested. You’ll have to listen to the whole thing to get to the connection to the you tiao, but check if out.

Or check out any of the episodes to learn more about China’s history.


cook like a local: men mian

I’m excited to share this recipe with you! Our house helper, who actually works for three foreign families here, taught this to the other families she works for while we were back in the States. Turns out, she had been holding back on us! Since we’ve learned to make this dish, we have it about once a week and I think the other families do as well.

Check out our other recipes here

This is a local dish called “men mian.” (For the record, I thought the pronunciation of this dish was meng mian for years and I still hear locals say it with a “g” but officially it is actually men mian).

There are a number of great places to get this dish locally if you don’t want to cook at home, the most famous one being the chain Tie Guo Yi Ju 铁锅一居  that has multiple locations throughout the city. However, I think after you try this and see how delicious and simple it is, you’ll eat at home more often.

Some attribute this dish to being a local dish of Ba Meng, but others say it comes from Shan Xi. My guess is that it’s both. I think a large number of Inner Mongolia’s population migrated from Shan Xi to IM so they probably brought this dish with them. (Thanks to JS for the help finding the sources).

Let’s not get caught up in arguing over where it originated and just get started learning how to make it!



Meat: we use a tender cut of pork, but you can also use ribs.

Vegetables: Must have green beans and probably potatoes, but the rest is up to you. The tomato is needed to make sauce during the cooking process.

We used: 1-2 carrots, one large potato, about 2 cups of green beans, and one large tomato

Seasoning: green onions (2-3), salt (to taste), soy sauce (about 2 teaspoons), and shi san xiang (13 spices) (about 1 teaspoon, or less, to taste)

Noodles: qie mian or cut noodles. These are available at your local flour/grain shop, supermarket, and sometimes even the small vegetable seller stalls have them.

cooking oil (1-2 tablespoons)

water (1-2 cups)


pork, carrots, tomato, and green onion


potatoes, carrots, and green beans


qie mian or cut noodles


shi san xiang (13 spices)



Heat oil in skillet and add meat. Stir fry until almost done.

Add all vegetables except tomatoes and green onions and continue stir-frying. This dish is going to cook in the rice cooker, so you don’t need to stir fry until completely done, just until vegetables have softened a bit.

in wok

Add spices

Add in your soy sauce, 13 spices, and salt. Stir fry until thoroughly mixed, fragrant, and veggies softened (again, you don’t have to wait for them to thoroughly cook yet).

add spices

Transfer contents of wok to your rice cooker. Add enough water to cover about 2/3 of the contents of the cooker. The dish should be dry, not saucy when finished. However, if it’s too dry the first time you try, add more water and/or more tomatoes the next time you try.

before tomatoes

Add tomatoes and green onions in a layer on top of the cooked mixture.
add tomatoes


Place the noodles on top of tomatoes and close the lid of the rice cooker. When we make this, our rice cooker is FULL by this stage. (like lid barely closing full, but that depends on the size of your cooker). Use the setting you would use for rice. For us, it takes about 35-45 minutes for the cooking process to finish. I’m sure the time will vary based on the amounts of vegetables you used and the size of your rice cooker.

in cooker 1


When the rice cooker has finished, it will look something like this:

in cooker


Mix the noodles in with the mixture on the bottom and you’re ready to serve!

It should look something like this:

men mian

This is really a delicious, easy, cheap, local meal to make. You have some prep time washing and cutting and a little time stir-frying, but mostly the rice cooker does the work for you.

If you try it, leave us a comment and tell us what you think. Does it rival Tie Guo Yi Ju?

Hohhot’s Soccer/Football Team

Did you know Hohhot has a semi-professional soccer/football team? I’m not sure if “semi-professional” is the exact right term, but anyway, we have a team that plays teams from other cities and provinces.


Baidu tells me this is their official English name: Nei Monggol Zhongyou Football Club Hohhot excellent football team


The links below are press releases in Chinese if you want to translate them and learn more about the history of the team.

from North News

from NMG News


Here is the schedule for the remainder of the season:

August 15 vs Shenzhen Yu Heng

August 29 vs Yan Bian Changbai Mountain

September 19 vs Qingdao Yellow Sea Pharmaceutical

September 26 vs Xinjiang

October 24 vs Dalian A Er Bing


We haven’t made it to a game yet, but those I know who have gone have enjoyed them. I don’t know the ticket price, but I’ve heard if you show up after the second half has started there’s no fee collected.
Games are played at Hohhot’s Stadium on Genghis Khan Road. A map is below.

sports stadium

special thanks to Connie for helping me find the schedule!

Here is the link to the team’s information on baidu which includes the team’s lineup for the 2015 season.

Hohhot’s Air Quality

See how Hohhot’s Air Quality compared to other Chinese cities in the first half of 2015.The full article is below, but the place names are in Chinese so I’ve listed the factors relating to Hohhot and Inner Mongolia here.
The first list is the provinces/ARs of China listed in order from worst to cleanest air. Inner Mongolia is number 24 of 31 total, making us in the top third.

Next is a list of Inner Mongolia’s leagues and how they rank, again from worst to best. Here’s the list:

  1. Tongliao
  2. Wuhai
  3. Baotou
  4. Bayinnor
  5. Wulanchab
  6. Chifeng
  7. Hulunbeir
  8. Alxa
  9. Xingan
  10. Hohhot
  11. Ordos
  12. Xilingol

(Please note there are alternate spellings for most of these places).


And once again, there are much worse places to live in China than in Hohhot.

The article ends with beautiful pictures and the bright blue skies of Inner Mongolia. 🙂


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Changes in Hohhot

The post below, shared from Hohhot’s daily news service, does a really great job of highlighting just how quickly Hohhot has changed in recent years. The full article is posted below in Chinese, but I’ll do my best to share the highlights. If it doesn’t display correctly, try this link.

The first kind of change mentioned is the increase in population. Here’s the rundown:

2015 3.05 million

2010 2.86 million

2000 2.43 million

1990 1.91 million

1964 1.11 million

1953 790,000


Next, there has been tremendous economic change. In 2014, Hohhot’s urban residents’ per capita disposable income increased by 8.5%.


Next, as evidenced by rush hour traffic every single day, is the increase in the number of private vehicles. The number of registered vehicles in Hohhot as of February 26, 2015 was 801,746 which according to the article means that on average every household has a car.

In 2006, there were 4.5 vehicles for every 100 households and in 2000 the number was just one car for 100 households.


If you’re following along with the embedded article’s photos and graphics, we’re now at the pictures of folks leaving work (by bicycle) in the 1950s followed by what getting off work time looks like today on Hohhot’s streets.
Next, the article has pictures of buses and highlights some of the changes to Hohhot’s public transportation. The first picture is Hohhot’s first bus for its first bus route in 1954, when the city was called Gui Sui, before it became known as Hohhot. (more on this topic in a future post). The next picture shows 4 buses that drove the Number 3 Route. The next picture shows that in 2012, double decker buses had been added and the city had 102 bus routes. Then in 2013, double length buses were added to Hohhot’s two free bus routes as part of a green initiative.

Public transportation continued to improve in 2015 with plans for high speed trains and two lines of a subway to be complete in 2020.

Also, the high-speed portion of the second ring road was scheduled to be completed in July 2015. (I don’t think it’s all finished, but I heard that the portion between Jin Qiao and Jin Chuan is finished and that it now takes just 20 minutes to drive between the two).

The fourth change mentioned under the public transportation heading is how much Hohhot’s airport has changed. There’s a picture of the airport in 1958 and then a present-day photo. (You can read about Hohhot’s plans for an even newer airport here). 


You can keep scrolling down for even more contrasting then-and-now pictures of Hohhot. (famous places, universities, and city scenes)


What has changed the most since you arrived in Hohhot? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.

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Tenth National Minority Nationalities Traditional Sports Games

Inner Mongolia is hosting China’s National Ethnic Minority Sports Competition. The games began today and will continue through the 17th.

Here’s the official logo of the games:


The games are being held in Ordos at the Sports Stadium pictured below which is between Kangbashi and Dong Sheng.

Ordos Sports Stadium

I can’t find any English article about this year’s game in English, but here’s one from last year’s games. And here’s one in Chinese.

Mengke Bateer retiring

Mengke Bateer, an international basketball star born and raised in Inner Mongolia, is set to retire in August. If the article doesn’t display correctly below, use this link to read the article published by The Beijing Hour. It details the information about his basketball and show biz career and the details of his retirement.
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