Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beijing Hotel Equipment Company

For quite some time now, I have been meaning to visit the Beijing Hotel Equipment Company, also known as HEC, to check out this supposed Mecca for all cooking-related gadgetry. Up till now, whenever I had a need for any sort of cooking equipment, whether it be pots and pans, or little gizmos to decorate cakes with, or whatever, I would generally go either to the Dongjiao Market or Pantry Magic. The former is a large market on Xidawang Lu, not far south of Jian'guo Lu, that has huge warehouse-size buildings selling fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, etc, with a hotel and restaurant supply section toward the back. Dongjiao is definitely cheap, but it's also chaotic, and much of it involves walking around outdoors, and I find I really need to work myself up for a visit there. Pantry Magic is at the other end of the spectrum--it's right in Sanlitun, so not far from my apartment, and it's easy to get to. It is also pricey, but they often have things that Dongjiao won't have, especially things related exclusively to Western cooking.

HEC falls somewhere in between these two. It's a multi-storey store, with goods lined up in tall racks sort of like a Home Depot. On the ground floor there are dining utensils, including Western-style cutlery and chopsticks, crockery, glassware, and a bunch of serving utensils, from tea and coffee pots to chafing dishes and platters of all kinds. Upstairs on the second floor they have baking supplies (the biggest selection I've seen outside of Paris and New York), appliances (including enormous planetary mixers and salamanders), and cleaning supplies, along with pots and pans, and on the third floor there are woks, steaming baskets, and all sorts of other goods. The prices are generally moderate, though imported goods naturally are a bit pricey. I bought a non-stick covered pullman loaf pan for RMB 79 (a bit more than $10) and a sifter for about RMB 30 (less than $5), and will almost surely go back to do some more damage before long.

HEC is located just south of the South 2nd Ring Road in You'anmen, at Kaiyangli. The actual address is Fengtai District, You'anmenwai, 1 Kaiyangli Yi Jie (丰台区右安门外大街开阳里一街一号). Here's a map (in Chinese), and their phone number is (010) 83559988. They even have a website: http://bj.heconline.com.cn (though it's only in Chinese).