How to Order a Jiānbing in Mandarin

Ubiquitous. Delicious. Not entirely nutritious. You can find them on the street in Beijing and Brooklyn. They are a staple of both morning commuters and late-night revelers, the apex snack, the Egg McMuffin of breakfast foods: The humble 煎饼 jiānbing.

Despite a massive increase in the price of a jiānbing in my time in Beijing, I’m still hooked after all these years.

I also remember the days when my mastery of Mandarin did not quite match my love of the crepe. It is a simple dish, but there are several key components, and I was no doubt a source of great amusement to my fellow snackers as they passed their time in the jiānbing line watching me pantomime equivalents to “chili sauce” and “can you cook the egg a little bit more?”

While I would hate to deprive our Beijing friends and neighbors from any form of spontaneous street entertainment, I thought I’d offer a quick primer on the easiest way to order the jiānbing of your dreams.