After reading an article in the 2008 Insider’s Guide to Beijing about Hotel Equipment Corporation, a restaurant supply warehouse, I decided I had to go have a look for myself.
In short, I completely lost my mind, and it was amazing.
HEC, located in the Feng Tai neighborhood of Beijing, is a bit hard to find, but it was well worth the long trek. The first floor was impressive, housing flatware, dishes and bar equipment at amazing prices — 22 kuai for a beautifully shaped serving platter anybody? They also had a water pitcher I saw at Salt, a premiere contemporary restaurant, an array of sushi boats, and the futuristic-looking pudding cups from Mango Mango.
But the second floor is where I totally lost all sense of who I was and the fact that I have to pay rent tomorrow, and just started shoveling stuff into my cart. The “Western Cooking Supplies” floor was a wonderland of cheap and scarce kitchen necessities. They had tons of cake pans (47 kuai) and decorating supplies, silicone baking mats (250 kuai), cookie cutters, bread knives, heart-shaped pastry pans, gigantic 40-gallon soup pots, Western measuring cups, a huge tupperware section — to be honest, it’s all kind of a blur beyond that.
The third floor, “Chinese Cooking Supplies,” had full-sized woks (20 kuai), hot pot pots, iron plates for hot plate dishes, a row of bamboo steamers (15-30 kuai), more soup pots, rice cookers, meat cleavers, more tupperware, chafing dishes for buffets, barbecues, industrial-sized ovens … you get the picture.
The fourth and fifth floors have heavier equipment — as in walk-in fridges and grills.
Somehow I managed to leave having spent a bit of 200 kuai, which was fairly good I think. My favorite purchase was two silicone cupcake pans for 47 kuai each. I also got a potato ricer and bread knife, neither of which I’ve seen anywhere else in Beijing. I was pretty much giddy the entire trip, and I think I’ll be making return trips to pick up some things I didn’t buy this time — maybe a heart-shaped baking pan is in my future? I’d better not go too often though, and I think I need a better chaperon than Jeff. Maybe one who doesn’t encourage me to buy things.
Not pictured: my gigantic 16-kuai tupperware box for transporting cupcakes. MMMmmmmm!