Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guangzhou & Panyu Part I

nb. reposted from old blog, visited in May 2008

Tagged along with my parents to China for their property trawl and found that I can't even afford to buy a decent apartment in China these days. *sigh*

I did, however, come by some good Chinese food...

Our first meal was at the Grand Hyatt at Songshan Lake, which was by far the most expensive and almost predictably, the least spectacular... The dim sum menu was teeny - I ordered a char siu so (BBQ pork pastries) and it came out like freezer puff pastry hastily folded around a miniscule bit of badly made pork. The other dishes were decent though, like the thinly-sliced poached pork with minced garlic (suan ni bai rou). Still, it was grossly overpriced for mainland standards. Didn't help that the staff kept breaking plates right behind us and that our private washroom (we were in a private dining room) was finished with extremely sub-par fittings.

That afternoon we got to our hotel in Panyu, which is twenty minutes away from Tianhe district in Guangzhou, and proceeded to have dinner at Shichu (Private Kitchen/Chef), the 'premium' outlet of Guangzhou fave Bing Sheng. The only difference between the two, imo, was that Shichu is made up of a series of private rooms, while in Bing Shengyou sit in a conventional restaurant dining room. Bing Sheng junior is fairly decent decor-wise, and considering that the food wasn't much different, I'd probably just go to Bing Sheng next time. The champion of this meal was the braised duck with taro. Actually, it was the taro that really shone. It was steamed and cut into large chunks, but otherwise appeared to have undergone no further manipulation. The texture of the tuber itself was what won our hearts. In Cantonese cuisine we always look for 'fun' (powdery) taro - which means it's neither waxy nor mushy - it can be broken into clean cut pieces, but retains quite a bit of moisture, resulting in a 'powdery' texture. It's not so much a matter of season, but the way in which it was grown, and it takes a skilled chef or housewife to pick a good one. So anyway, this taro was exactly that, thus the evening was mostly spent with me hogging the taro and smothering it in the remainder of the duck's thickened dark soy sauce. The other standout dish was the slow cooked pig's trotter with sweet potatoes. Again, it was the starch component that won me over - soft, sweet and full of meaty flavours as a result of its duration in the claypot.

After dinner we went looking for dessert and ended up at another Guangzhou stalwart, Kai Ji (or Hoi Gei in Cantonese). They're famous for Canto sweet soups, but I didn't find them that interesting...

Anyway, yum yum yum. Day Two to come...

Shichu (by Bing Sheng)
178 Tianhe Dong Lu
+86 20 8757 5699

Kai Ji
889 Longjin Dong Lu

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