Hubby and I went for a long weekend in Harbin a while back now to see the ice festival. I am not sure what possessed me to go somewhere where it was sub zero – and I am not talking -2 or -5. It was -25 when we were in Harbin that weekend and believe me, it was the coldest place I have ever been too and nor would I be crazy enough to go anywhere that cold again! However, I have wanted to go to Harbin for a while and if we were back in Australia, we would not even consider going there.
The Harbin ice festival was established in 1985 and is held annually from January 5 and lasts for over a month. Zhaolin park is where the ice festival is held. Thousands of exquisitely-made ice lanterns, ice carvings and snow sculptures grace the snow covered parks. The ice and snow art works come in all shapes and sizes – they can be as small as a mouse or as big as a bus. The design ranges from life size human figures, animals and flowers to towering castles.
The cold was a little overwhelming! I had my ski gear on and that was ok, however, we had the wrong foot wear. We had to stop and have something warm to drink every 30 mins as our feet were practically frozen! It was definitely a ‘good’ excuse to drink ‘nai cha’ which is warm milk tea! It was indeed an experience and one I will never forget. Great for those who has never been, as it is an experience! We had a fabulous time. I would like to say that the cold didn’t bother us too much but for me – I was COLD! Regardless, I had a tremendous time and would recommend it to anyone who has never been.
It wouldn’t be a weekend away without some food! Below are a few places that we ate in Harbin.
Dongfang Jiaozi Wang
This was recommended by the Lonely Planet. It was our first evening here and we were both starved! We ordered 3 different types of dumplings, soup and potato vegetables.
Dumpling 1: boiled pork and fennel dumplings. These were unbelievably tasty! The dumplings were juicy and the combination of pork and fennel were divine!
Dumpling 2: seafood dumplings – these were also tasty.
Dumpling 3: prawns and veggies – these had to be my favourite – prawns with veggies. Generous serving of prawns in the dumplings.
Pork and vegetables soup – I wanted something warm, like a soup. This was ok, I could have made this at home. The pork was a little hard and dry for my liking, however, the soup did make me warm.
Their specialty is definitely the dumplings. We definitely ordered way too much, however, it was definitely delicious. We were utterly stuffed and it satisfied my cravings for dumplings.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
Dongfang Jiaozi Wang
39 Zhongyang Ave
PH: ++86 451 8467 3920
Café Russia 1914
This café was highly recommended by a couple of friends who have been to Harbin. The café is small and cosy and was crowded when we went there but thankfully we didn’t have to wait for long. The walls were all covered with photographs of old Harbin. There were glass bookcases which held old cameras, clocks, porcelain, glassware and nick-knacks galore.
The menu I thought was quite limited but there was a good selection of Russian food which we were keen to try.
Vegetable and beef red soup – this was tasty however it was served luke-warm which was a little disappointing. It tasted more like tomato soup with vegetables. I have to admit, there weren’t a lot of ‘beef’ in the soup. Regardless it was quite tasty but would have been better if it was a little bit hotter.
We wanted to try some Russian sausages. These sausages were a little salty to my liking, however, hubby seemed to have enjoyed it. I think if we had eaten this with bread it would have been a lot better.
The beef cabbage roll was to die for! It was absolutely delicious and I totally utterly enjoyed it.
The cabbage was cooked to perfection, the mince beef was mixed with onions, carrot and rice. It was definitely flavoursome.
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
Café Russia 1914
57 Xi Toudao Jie
Ph: +86 451 8456 3207
Ding Ding Xiang
One of my favourite winter meal is hot pot. This place is fantastic and you get your own individual mini hot pot which means that you can each order your own soup! I ordered something a little more spicy, whereas hubby ordered something less spicy.
Their signature dipping sauce (jinpai tiaoliao), a flavourful sesame sauce so thick they have to dish it out with ice cream scoops!
We ordered beef – which was fantastic
three types of different tofu – my favourites were the white and green – the yellow one tasted a little like sponge! Regardless it was still tasty!
We also got some tripe, a seafood platter and some noodles.
This place is definitely a hotpot paradise. We were both deliciously full and could not move! Hubby had extra noodles – not quite sure how he managed to fit everything in! It was indeed a fantastic meal!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Ding Ding Xiang
58 Jingwei Jie
Ph: +86 451 8300 000
We found a fantastic indoor market next to our hotel and they had one of the best egg tarts I have ever had.
Also they had great snacks – buns, dumplings, cooked food, uncooked food, you name it, they had everything – it was fantastic! I was in food heaven!
Definitely a wonderful weekend gateway in Harbin.