Brian Goldberg makes jianbing at the Mr. Bing kiosk in the UrbanSpace food court in New York, on April 17, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua]
Jianbing are a type of crepe that is hugely popular in northern China. It's usually eaten for breakfast wrapped around a piece of crunchy deep-fried dough with egg, cilantro, scallion, and bean paste.
Chinese pop music idol Kris Wu helped spread the word about this traditional Chinese food when he made jianbing on the entertainment show "Sean in the Wild". They were also featured in the third season of "A Bite of China", a documentary television series about the history of food, which caused a spike in people's interest in giving one a try.
And it's not just people in China who have the taste for jianbing. American Brian Goldberg fell in love with them while he was studying in Beijing in 1998. The New York local has since returned home and opened a growing chain of jianbing stores. "I just love jianbing so much, it tastes so good, the texture is so good, it's hot, it's fresh, it's customizable, they make it how you like it," said Goldberg.
Customers not content with a traditional style jianbing can trade up to something fancier, with some sellers offering gourmet versions with seafood and other pricey ingredients. A basic jianbing usually costs 5-10 yuan – less than – but with luxury fillings like sea cucumber they can come with an 80 yuan price tag.
The up scaling of the humble jianbing has come to the attention of the food industry in Tianjin, where they originated. A "jianbing branch" of the Tianjin Catering Industry Association has been established to prepare jianbing standards that will govern their ingredients, cooking, and price. The Association says that more than 100 shop owners have already joined the new branch, which is expected to provide a model for the future development of other traditional Chinese foods.