Gourmet Guangzhou: China Week Day 2

Guangzhou is famous for its cuisine, and food is a great reason to travel there. Like many gourmet capitals of the world, the city has a long history of food and drink, many gourmet festivals and many well-known food streets, such as Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, which is popular with both locals and tourists for its morning teas and lunches.

Other food streets worth visiting in Guangzhou include Huifu Snack Street and Beijing Road Pedestrian Street - apparently the best destination for Guangzhou snacks and a variety of food from all over the world.

You could also visit South Sea Fishing Village and sample excellent authentic Cantonese cuisine or spend a couple of days on Shamian Island which is, well, an island, in Guangzhou’s Liwan District. With tree-lined streets and European-style architecture and, of course, outstanding – and adventurous - Cantonese food, you can enjoy some of these local delicacies:

5 Dishes to try (in no particular order)

  1. White Cut Chicken (白切鸡) is a very popular Cantonese dish and, for Guangdong locals, no chicken means no banquet! Despite having great presentation and flavours, it is easy-to-make and cooked in hot water with no other ingredients to keep its original flavour. It is usually eaten with finely minced ginger, green onion, salt and hot peanut oil or spicy mustard, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, or chili pepper sauce. Traditionally at Chinese New Year a whole chicken (including head and feet) will be served at the family dinner. Apparently the white meat represents purity and the whole chicken symbolises unity. Quite different from another local dish, Black Chicken or Wu Gai (Silkies in English) which – despite having soft, white feathers, literally has black meat often used for chicken soup (and also known for its medicinal qualities). The chickens are unusual in other ways too, having 5 toes instead of the usual 4 and blue/black eggs (twice as expensive as normal chicken eggs!).

  2. Steamed Vermicelli Rolls (肠粉) originated near Guangzhou. They are made from rice which is ground into rice butter, steamed and then filled with pork, beef, shrimp, or other ingredients. You will find this dish everywhere, from restaurants to tea houses and night markets.

  3. Dim Sum (饮茶) or going out for Dim Sum (or Yum Cha) and drinking good quality Chinese tea (Oolong is a good match for Dim Sum) whilst you enjoy your food is an essential part of local life in Guangzhou. Going out for morning Yum Cha is a popular weekend family activity so expect long queues at the best restaurants! Incidentally, Guangzhou Restaurant on the aforementioned Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street is the locals’ top pick for Dim Sum.

  4. Seafood (海鲜) is another favourite for Guangdong people and due to the city’s close  proximity to the Southern coastline of China, a plentiful supply of fresh seafood is guaranteed. In authentic restaurants you can choose your seafood from live seafood tanks but choose the dishes that are cooked with only a light seasoning (usually a small amount of soy sauce, ginger and spring onion) – fresh seafood should be odourless and strong spices are added only if the seafood is stale to disguise the rotting odours… For the more adventurous, fresh lobster sausages are apparently worth sampling. Not something you usually associate lobster with!

  5. Desserts (甜品,糖水) are a Cantonese speciality, rarely found in other regional cuisines in China. Also called, Ton Sui (or sweet soups), deserts are offered in restaurants after an evening meal. There are often stalls solely devoted to deserts – a tradition that has spread across the globe in overseas Chinese communities (in Canada, Australia and the US).  Some popular dishes include double layered milk (双皮奶) and ginger milk curd (姜撞奶, tofu pudding (豆腐花), red bean paste (紅豆沙), guilinggao (龟苓膏), black sesame paste (芝麻糊) and sago (西米露).

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