For our first few weeks in China, we are amazed and excited by all the different types of delicious Chinese food that we can find on every corner. Some of these new foods delight us while other foods may disgust us, but all are equally interesting to taste or smell. However, after a while, some homesickness sets in. We crave grilled cheese, decadent chocolate or a good old bowl of cereal. Luckily, if you live in a big city like Beijing or Shanghai, you will be able to find these treasures albeit at a higher cost than you would pay for them at home. In Beijing, you’ll want to keep an eye out for two stores: Jenny Lou’s and April Gourmet.
Jenny Lou’s has a bright green and yellow banana sign and currently has ten locations. However, if you don’t live on the east side of Beijing, you won’t be able to find a location near you. Nine of Jenny’s stores are located quite near to each other and the tenth store is way up north in Shunyi. Click on the map here to see if you are lucky enough to live nearby. Jenny currently imports from a variety of places such as Russia, Australia, the USA, and countries in south Asia to name a few. Prices are high but you can still find good deals occasionally. The trick is to buy only things that you cannot get at Chinese grocery stores. Vegetables and fruit may or may not be cheaper elsewhere, but it’s more likely that Jenny will have veggies or fruit not sold at your local store such as blueberries or raspberries. They also do home deliveries for purchases over 200 rmb and most people find it hard to leave there without having spent at least that much. That may just be the price of 3 boxes of cereal (yes, an unbelievable $10 each)!
April Gourmet (just a green sign, no yellow) currently has four locations on the east side of town as well (including one in Shunyi). Click here for a map of their locations. The April Gourmet near Sanlitun also has great food on the go such as pre-made tuna or chicken sandwiches, apple pie, or hot dinner items such as lasagna or roasted chicken.
Customer service is nil at either chain and carefully check prices at the checkout counter as sometimes product is placed in front of the wrong price tag and what you thought was on sale was a completely different item.
Other stores with a good selection of imported food but with few locations around town include BHG Marketplace (Sanlitun), City Shop (Parkview Green Mall), Ole (Ginza Mall) and Jenny Wang’s (four locations). Wal-Mart and Carrefour also carry a small selection of imported goods and they are usually more evenly spaced around the city. Most 7-11 convenience stores will have a few imported items (such a Doritos) in stock.
Enjoy your chocolate, cereal or homemade pasta dinner! We all need a little familiar comfort food at some point during our China adventure.