Shaobing Pizza

By Bryan • china, nanjing • 23 Dec 2005

Well, it’s not really pizza, but it has revolutionized the way I eat breakfast. Best possible description within a North American context would be a slab of Boboli pizza crust (remember Boboli?) with bacon bits, mild-hot sauce, assorted vegetable shavings of a green variety, and sesame seeds all baked to tasty perfection. At 2RMB a bing, it has taken the mediocrity out of egg jinbei (not sure if that is right…?) each polluted morning.

Shaobing is a relatively new addition to the Ninghai lu community, having made an un-glamorous appearance one gray Tuesday morning about a month and a half a go. In an effort to add some ‘spice’ to the mornings, I bypassed my usual jinbei supplier and opted instead to complement my instant coffee mixture with several butter bottomed mini buns served up by another local entrepreneur. This particular business offers a variety street style baked goods, including cookies, strange rectangular ‘chip’ items, waffle rolly things and other snack knick knacks to satisfy even the most demanding palettes. Instead, something new and exciting caught my eyel

“What is this?” I asked, while staring mindlessly at the circular new additions
to the morning fare.

“Shaobing…how many do you want”?

“How many?…Oh, I just want one, how much?”

Utilizing the universal hand signal system for numbers, which is actually somewhat condescending now, as I have a firm grasp of Chinese numerals, I was informed of the 2RMB price tag.

I bought my warm shaobing and continued on my way. One bite and I realized that mornings (and lunch, as it would turn out) would never be the same again.

A month passed of consuming several of these bakery wonders a day. A day didn’t go by that you wouldn’t see that ‘dude with green bag and coffee mug’ chowing down on a fat shaobing while traversing the wilds of Suiyan campus in the wee hours of the morning.

I had enjoyed, for approximately one month, an endless supply of shaobing, in the sense that I had never once waited to receive my delicious breakfast. Then, on a cold Wednesday morning in early December, the golden age of
fast breakfast came to an unanticipated and equally abrupt end

Shaobing was now popular. Not just popular…but VERY popular. Whereas the day before, I would grab, pay and eat…what I encountered that Wednesday morning was rather amazing in many aspects. There was a lineup…a big queue, approximately 20 people!

It was as if you had killed my pet rock. I stood there…”what do I do…the line up…it’s…it’s so….BIG!” I can’t wait that long!

Totally understaffed and unprepared for this onslaught of hungry patrons, the little street bakery was quickly and hastily overcome. Down time in the line was up to 30 minutes. People were monopolizing the shaobing. You’d finally get up to the front and the chick in front of you would order 12! While I never participated, arguments and shoving matches over line placements and order sizes were common. Shaobing was now a valuable and highly coveted commodity.

“How many are you getting?”

“15”

“What! You can’t do that, I’m late for work!

*unintelligible Chinese, followed by further yelling*

“What about you”

“umm….8…”

“AI YOU!” *hands fly up in the air in crazy acrobatic gestures*

“….but I only want one….”

I weathered the line twice (which is present from 6am-9pm) when I finally conceded that I would most likely never have the opportunity to eat shaobing with the freedom I once had.

After about a week of this crazy nonsense, the store installed another oven and is now completely dedicated to shaobing production, having discontinued their other goods.

Observing the recent trend in shaobing consumption, the jianjiao/noodle/assorted lunch dishes fellow next door to the before mentioned bakery has now added an oven of his own and has begun selling shaobing as well.

The increased production of Ninghai lu shaobing has leveled with demand, and it is now possible to avoid long and possibly dangerous lines to obtain a breakfast delicacy.

What astonishes me the most about this entire phenomenon was the speed that it happened? The store went from literally nothing to everything overnight. It was an unreal transition.

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5 Responses

  1. shine

    I like Shaobing, and I like pizza too.But I hate big queue.

  2. Sue

    sha – bing………. sha – bing la la la la la la la la la la

    sounds alot like a song from the 50’s

    can you buy them frozen in grocery stores?

  3. Bryan

    ½ñÌìÅŶӲ»Ì«³¤ :-)

  4. hmmm…my comment sheet doesn’t seem to hang with the characters :-(

  5. Lucinda

    Bryan,

    I was walking down Zhu Jiang Lu last night searching for food when I came across Nanjing’s second location for Shaobing! And you ain’t kiddin–it’s amazing, and I can’t believe for only 2 kuai!!! Now I understand the craze and I’m sold!

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