there is a sociological approach to food. i could tell you that what’s interesting about “flavors of beijing and tianjin (京津风味)” on nanhai road in shekou (just between industrial roads 7 and 8, or diagonally across the street from garden city, where the shekou wallmart is located) is that tianjian people living as far away as in luohu and longgang will make a 1 and 1/2 hour trip just to eat a real tianjin breakfast. i could mention that at these decidely un-cantonese breakfasts, diners sit around and talk in tianjin dialect, reminiscing about life up north. i could also mention that the restaurant provides an unofficial meeting place for the tianjin hometown club (not quite an association). but instead, i want to rave about the food.
jingjin flavors serves up the most authentic tianjin specialities in the city and is well known on the chinese internet. according to the owner zhang hong, the secret to her success is the quality of her wheat products. she has employed seven tianjin cooks to make noodles, flat breads, oil sticks, dumplings, pot stickers, and bread crisps just like they do in tianjin. zhang hong believes that many of the tianjin restaurants that opened and failed in shenzhen, failed because they skimped on the wheat. “you don’t make money on wheat products, so many restaurants just made noodles or a flat bread. but anybody can do that. my long-term customers return to enjoy the tastes the remember from childhood, and that’s wheat. of course, the other dishes have to be high quality, but the real secret to gaining customer loyalty is a fragrant flat bread that takes them back to tianjin in a bite.”
for breakfast, you can order jianbingguozi (煎饼果子), soy milk with old toufu（豆浆加老豆腐）, or soy milk in gravy (with a swirl of sesame paste)（豆腐垴）, tianjin wontons in a claypot（沙锅馄饨）, sesame flat bread（芝麻烧饼）, and oil sticks (油条). go to jingjin flavors to satisfy every carb and salt urge you’ve ever had. it’s a delicious way of starting the day. it’s also a great way of discovering how some northerners are inhabiting shenzhen.
in the interests of furthering cross culinary understanding, i end with a photo of shenzhen’s latest campaign: don’t eat cat or dog meet, boycott cruel killing. stewed cat and stewed dog (separate dishes, not stewed together) are hakka specialities available in longgang. and again, i know people who will drive over an hour to enjoy the flavor of hometown food. i’ve made the drive with them and, if asked, will probably do it again. really. joys of anthropology of food are not to be underestimated!