Sometimes the most exotic sounding things you eat while traveling are not really that special. Try telling someone you had “donkey sandwiches” in Beijing and watch them recoil in disgust. But actually eat one and discover that it’s more or less a version of a hot roast beef sandwich. These savory sandwiches, called lü ròu huǒ shāo in pinyin (驴肉火烧), originate in China’s Hebei province and can be eaten in small restaurants throughout Beijing, a neighboring city of Hebei. According to a popular Chinese saying, there is “dragon meat in Heaven and donkey meat on Earth,” meaning that donkey meat is the best kind of meat we can eat on Earth. In fact, it is supposedly rich in proteins and minerals, and has less fat than other meats.
Donkey sandwiches are typically made of two long buns, which are roasted until flaky, and filled with a mixture of shredded donkey meat and chopped up hot green peppers. However, with its 300-year long history, there are many variations of this delectable sandwich. While simple to make, one bite leaves an explosion of flavor in your mouth. As Chinese people are not ones to waste, the internal organs of the donkey are used to make various soups to accompany your sandwich. The best part of eating these sandwiches (besides the satisfying feeling of adventurous accomplishment) is the price: a mere 3-5RMB each. Next time you’re out on the streets of Beijing, keep an eye out for signs that say 驴肉火烧. However, readers beware: regular roast beef may never taste the same again.