Even though I don't speak much Chinese, I get a real kick out of checking out the little mom and pop restaurants tucked away in back alleys all over Nanjing.
Around my workplace is a big student area (Nanjing Arts Institute), meaning a goldmine of little places catering to college kids with limited budgets. Strolling into work, I can drop 3 kuai and BAM! baozi brekkie.
A couple of lunches ago, I found a little hole in the wall where the owners know what I like: nyu rou tudou – 3 of the 10 Chinese words I know, mashed into a single dish of stick-to-your-ribs goodness. That's right folks, for just 8 RMB, those three magic words scored me a healthy portion of curried beef and potatoes, with a side of seaweed broth to wash it down with.
Nyu rou = beef. Tudou = potato. I don't even know if it's even on the menu, at that little lunch spot, but every shop has beef, and also potatoes, so there's no problem, I reckon.
Conclusion: if you don't speak much Chinese, give this one a go – just ask for 'nyu rou tudou' in any little mom and pop joint, and see what you end up with. It's fun!