In today’s China, price of everything is rising. The most basic need for a human being-"food" is certainly the first concern . Take a look at the people’s lunch in the Beijing CBD (Central Business District), where people of all social levels gather: from cleaners, waiters to senior consultants and white-collars… see what makes lunch one of people’s headaches now.
Kiki, 27 year-old is a senior business consultant in a CPA firm. Her lunch is a set meal at a Korean restaurant, costs her 35 yuan. There are many restaurants and food stands along the street where her firm is located, but she still complains, "After I tried dozens of restaurants here, I still can’t find one that I want to eat in."
Han Ying, 26, architect, monthly income 7,000 yuan. His lunch is a Chinese box lunch with two vegetable dishes and one meat dish. Han says he doesn’t care about what he eats for lunch, he thinks young people come to Beijing for the opportunity to realize their dreams not for the lunch. He adds, "But I do want to complain about the house rent here."
Yang Guangming, 31, parking lot security guard. Total monthly income including his wife’s is 3000 yuan. His lunch is a box lunch with a mantou (plain bun), which costs him 8 yuan. He works outdoors and the recent rainstorm, the sand in the air and the heat make him lose his appetite. And as he is from Hunan province (where food is more spicy), he says, "There’s not enough pepper in the dishes here."
Nate, 23, works in an American company in Beijing. He was having lunch with his friend at a street food stand. His lunch includes two Chinese dishes, rice and beer, which costs him 44yuan. Nate loves the street food stands in Beijing, but not so much for the air here. He says, "Only when the weather is good will I go out for lunch."
Hu Lei, 22, interior designer, unfixed salary. She makes and brings her own lunch. She was scared by the crowded lunch scene the first day of work. "It was like everybody wrestles with each other to get lunch" so to avoid that, she makes her lunch every evening before the day.
Li Zhe, 31, editor at Beijing TV station. His lunch is fried prawns, vegetable with fried egg, rice along with some free porridge and watermelon. Altogether it costs him 15.8 yuan. Li has his lunch at the company’s canteen and the meal allowance he receives is pretty much enough for his lunch. If he’s tired of the food in the cafeteria he can go to other restaurants in the canteen for a change. "But I often work overtime in my job (media), so I always miss the meal time. When I feel hungry and run to the canteen, there’s no food left already."
Xiao Xin, 28, customer service in an art collection company. Most of the time, the food Xiao Xin is holding is for her colleagues, except the box of fruits. Her fruit lunch costs her 5 yuan. Xiao Xin eats only fruits to keep fit and more importantly, as she says, "The dishes and rice lunch is too expensive!"
Hu Mingming, 21, third year college student, intern in a software company. His salary for the internship is 2,000 yuan. His lunch is a Chinese traditional pancake, which costs him 3 yuan. Hu says he’s very lucky to get paid for the internship and there’s a pancake stand offering the cheapest lunch for him.
Sun Yuzhen, 48, she does the cleaning work in the boss’s office, salary 1500 yuan. Her lunch is cold noodles with sesame sauce and a Shaobing (a baked, layered Chinese flatbread) with some meat filling. This lunch costs her 8 yuan. Sun says she receives 200 yuan meal allowance from the company every month. Usually she has her lunch in the company’s canteen except every now and then she goes out for lunch for a change. But she always makes sure her lunch costs no more than 10 yuan. "The food in the company’s canteen is always the same old dishes."
Wang Bolang, 22, stylist, unfixed salary "it’s very unstable. If I got more jobs I got more money, versa vice. And no jobs, then no icomes." Today Wang is too busy to sit down for lunch. He has only a3 yuan bottled green tea to supplement water and sugar. He says, "In our business, we couldn’t pay so many attention to the 3 meals, and it’s not good for my stomach."
Mana, 26, creator in a film company, salary 6,000 yuan. Her lunch is dumplings made by her mother and the duck-neck snacks from her colleagues. Mana’s mother often prepares lunch for her. Mana only needs to heat it up in the microwave oven at the company. But still Mana spends around 500 yuan for her lunch every month. "I love snacks and I love to share it with my colleagues. For that reason, it’s not easy to save money."
Xia Tianchen, 25, marketing staff in the Esquire magazine(《时尚先生》). His lunch is the barbecued pork with rice in a Canton restaurant. Xia still remembers two years ago, with 10 yuan he can buy a nice lunch of Gaijiaofan(rice with dishes on top). Now it costs more than 20 yuan. "Nowadays the 10 yuan Gaijiaofan smells of hogwash oil."
Gao Sipei, 24, video post-production. Her lunch is the sushi set from the convenience store, a marinated egg and a bottled drink, altogether it costs her 18.1 yuan. Gao often dines out with her colleagues but she says it’s costing her too much. "I try not to join the dinner that costs more than 40 yuan per person. If I dine with colleagues, I’ll cut the budget for the next day’s lunch."
Yan Ying, 18, food delivery, salary 1,700yuan. Her lunch is the free noodles from the restaurant she works in. She has to deliver food more than 20 times a day. Usually she has her lunch around 2:30 pm. Yan says, "It happens a lot that I get calls for food delivery while I’m eating. So I have to stop eating and deliver the food. When I come back, the food is not warm anymore. "
The best lunch in Beijing’s CBD is Crystal Jade Palace or Southern Empress, both in Oriental Plaza. If you’re tired of Chinese food, the Sizzler in New World Mall has a decent unlimited salad bar.
Wow, great article. Very insightful. Look at all that food they get for so cheap…
While it seems cheap to us, it seems as though prices are nearly doubling (for food) every year.
Just look at that drunkard American. I hope he dies of lead poisoning.
the salaries seem very low, or maybe only the low ones are being reported. My colleagues, late 20/early 30’s all make a lot more money than that, and all definitely over 15k. We are a local company though…
But yeah, lunch options suck 😉
I feel bad,I always complain about what I eat and stuff but these (most?)people have to deal with it. (:
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Nobody wants to eat cold food even if prepared at home except that Japanese lunch in the one photo.
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