Saving on Eggs

Sam Flemming‘s latest tweet (message on Twitter) had me smiling:

> saw on old lady bring her own egg to the jian bing guozi seller to save money

Sam is talking about 煎饼果子 (pictures). They’re made by spreading a basic batter on a hot plate, and cooking an egg on top, and then spreading a sauce on it. The total cost (including the price of the egg), is usually 1-3 RMB (depending where you are in China). Eggs generally cost much less than 1 RMB each.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. i remember the old time in baoding (2001) when you can buy the 饼 for 1 rmb, or 7mao in case you provide your own egg. the son of my teacher was used to steal an egg every morning to save 3mao each breakfast!

    by the way, the 饼 (can’t remember the name) was made from the dough at the moment, bake in an iron cylinder with a coal block in the middle while on the top the seller fix some oil, egg an meat. when the 饼 was ready it was stuffed with the meat and egg adding few more vegetable. it was sooo delicious and awfully cheap. does anybody know the name of this kind of food?

  2. John, I think you typed “锅” instead of “果” by mistake.

  3. Todd,

    Yes, you’re right. Thanks. (I got it right in the Baidu link and in the pinyin, at least!)

  4. Experienced the same kind of thinking at dinner. A young group of nurses and doctors making in excess of $100,000 each, bringing a bottle of wine to the restaurant on “free corkage” night. They may have wanted to save money or preferred their own wine tastes over the wine director of the restaurant. Same goes for the old lady in Shanghai bringing her own egg. Maybe instead of wanting to save half an RMB, she preferred the natural organic tastes of her special eggs.

  5. Crap! I used to do that too! well, I prefer my own egg just because it tastes much better. 😀

  6. The 煎饼果子 window near us has half of an egg carton on the windowsill for people to put their eggs in while the wait. It’s not uncommon for us to see people bring their own eggs for that or 烧饼里脊。 We love the chicken bings with a fried egg and sliced tomatoes – I probably eat four of those a week.

  7. Why is frugality silly? You know there are people who make very little money in this country, right?

  8. Has anyone else noticed how gross 煎饼 are in shanghai? They are so delicious in Beijing, but I can’t find a decent one that does NOT have anything sweet in it here in Shanghai.


    Does anyone know where I can get a tasty one here?

  9. It’s kind of sad really to think how little some people have. Though when it comes to the free corkage night I can understand. Sometimes you want to share a special bottle with your friends…

  10. So I wonder if I should bring an egg from the USA for my next visit. Any suggestions?
    Take care Always
    JG Paz

  11. We have a 煎饼果子 here in Dublin, its at the back of a chinese owned news agent(a conveniance store). They make the good king of bing, as well as 羊肉串,由于船 and spicy chicken bones. It was set up to cater to the many mainland chinese immigrents here, but I dont think it will last long, because as soon as health and safety find them they will for sure be shut down(european laws on handeling meat). We also have a resturant now that serves beijing breakfast, you know the long bread sticks served with the yellow bean soup, man tou and Bao Zi. I think it must be simular to the Bay area in america where all the Asians have set up shop.

  12. sorry 由于船 should be 鱿鱼串。 typed too fast and didnt read over as usual.

  13. 煎饼果子is very common in most part of the Shandong province.
    I come from Shandong,but in my hometown we can not find it.

  14. The first time we noticed people bringing their own eggs just to save a few mao, it made us realize how tight money is for a lot of people, or at least how people feel they need to be with their money. Same thing in the 菜市场 when a the difference of a few mao is a deal breaker for a lot of people. We brought our own eggs once to our neighbourhood chicken bing window, but it was a little troublesome and I sort of felt bad since the few mao difference would mean more to the couple sell bings than it would to us.

    Sometimes I wonder if our (foreigners’) perceptions of China’s current situation gets skewed because we all live in the nicer places and interact most with the relatively more affluent and better educated locals.

  15. Joel,

    Sometimes I wonder if our (foreigners’) perceptions of China’s current situation gets skewed because we all live in the nicer places and interact most with the relatively more affluent and better educated locals.

    That’s definitely true, but let’s not forget that there’s also a cultural angle here. You frequently see Chinese people bring their own liquor into restaurants in Shanghai, even when they can clearly afford to buy it (or just not drink liquor).

  16. the price of eggs is also increasing, with the price of corn rising because of an increased demand of ethanol. so, i bet you’ll be seeing more people bringing their own eggs.

    In Taiwan (Taichung), I haven’t really seen too many people bringing their own produce to be cooked. With one exception: When you bring some cool, unique veggie from the mountains and want the restauro to cook it for you. I’ve done this a few times and the cook usually comes out to talk about where you found it and what the best ways to cook it are.

  17. oh i just noticed that link is for a story from 2006 (haha, “2006” looks very much like “2008” when you’re not wearing glasses!)

    Here’s something more recent:

    But in any case, the prices of feed are going up around the world and the added costs are passed along to consumers….

  18. I thought 煎饼果子 should have a 油条 in it… isn’t that the 果子? Otherwise, isn’t it just a regular old 煎饼?

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