Located a few hours away by train from Shanghai, Ji’nan is the capital of the Shandong province. Known for it’s artesian springs within the metro area, Ji’nan also has a vibrant history (it was first settled over 4000 years ago), and a burgeoning food culture that is perfect for those looking for a weekend away from Shanghai.
Finding English speakers in Ji’nan is a bit more difficult than in Shanghai, so it may be a good idea to take a Chinese speaker with you. That said, Topher – one UnTour’s Night Markets guide who previously lived in Ji’nan – has given you the address in Chinese, along with some suggested dishes to order. Keep in mind that serving sizes of Ji’nan food are much more generous than in Shanghai.
You Xuan Zhang – 油旋张
Breakfast snack, really only one or two things to order here:
油旋 – light onion pancake, you’ll want 2-3 to come close to filling up
甜沫 – a somewhat flavorless porridge that is usually ordered alongside the you xuan (pancake)
Lao Dong Jia – 老董家
Homestyle Ji’nan food, suggested dishes:
黄瓜拌油条: an appetizer dish with cucumbers, fried dough sticks, sesame, and garlic
风味茄子: “tasty” eggplant that’s sweet, salty, a bit spicy, and mouth numbing
黄焖鸡: chicken stewed in a sweetened light soy sauce
两吃里脊: fried pork with two dipping sauces: sweet and sour, and salt and pepper
泰山原奖啤酒: a delicious wheat beer from Tai’an, a city south of Ji’nan
Di Ji Crayfish and Snails (night time only) 翟记龙虾田螺炒鸡
Excellent way to spend an evening (gets started around sunset)
小龙虾 – crayfish, you can tell them how spicy you want them but they won’t go crazy on you
炒鸡 – chicken stir fry with green peppers and potatoes
田螺 – stir-fried snails, a lot of work but everyone else is having them
花生毛豆拼盘 – a small mixed plate of boiled peanuts and edamame
炒花菜 – stir-fried cauliflower, just about the only veggie that people eat there
扎啤 – get a small keg of Ji’nan’s local beer for your evening (and prepare for locals to come up and cheers you)
If you have time, a visit to Ji’nan’s Muslim district for some BBQ is highly recommended. The place that I would always go to has moved, but the family who runs it is super kind. It’s called 伟伟烧烤 (Wei Wei’s BBQ) and taxi drivers probably won’t know it. If you’d like to go, it’s probably easiest to take a taxi to the south entrance of the Muslim district at 泺源大街与永长街, then walk north past the Chinese style mosque on your left. They’ll be another mosque soon after with an onion dome and a smokestack behind it. Turn right there and walk about 50 meters. Wei Wei’s will be on your left. Drop my name (Toufa – 头发) and you’ll be treated like royalty. They have a daughter who speaks decent English too.
Order the beef, lamb, and some bbq bread. 牛肉串，羊肉串, 烧烤饼
Sightseeing-wise, there aren’t a whole lot of obvious places in Ji’nan. Locals will suggest Baotu Spring, Thousand Buddha Mountain, and Daming Lake. Those are the places where tourists busses stop. They’re worth a visit, but I suggest keeping your expectations in check. I usually recommend visiting Black Tiger Spring (黑虎泉) as an alternative, as it’s more community oriented but still pretty. Near that area in old Ji’nan, see if you can find the Prince’s Pool (王府池子) hidden down an alleyway. North of that is Qushuiting Street (曲水亭街), which was voted the loveliest lane in Ji’nan a few years ago. There is good hiking (or step climbing) south of the city in the mountains. I used to go to Big Buddha Head (大佛头) behind Thousand Buddha Mountain. There’s also the old Austrian cathedral at the Shandong University old campus.