Thursday, December 29, 2011

Real Chinese Food

This trip, we explored a bit more, food wise.  I love Chinese food, and it's always nice to hunt down a little hole in the wall sort of place to see what we could find.  The cardinal rule with finding a restaurant in China is to go for somewhere that's pretty busy, and following that rule I've come across some beauties.  Some of the places may look like absolute dives, but they often have great food.  Some of the food this trip was not so good, but it has to happen.  The good stuff made up for it. 

Starting off with a little Sichuan restaurant.  We ordered this excellent fish fragrant pork, and it came packed with chilli, green onion and some Sichuan pepper.  It was quite spicy, and very tasty, not to mention cheap.

Shredded potato with green chilli, with a bit of vinegar.  I really want to try making this at home, but the effort of shredding up the potato keeps putting me off.

The best thing about hitting Guangzhou in the winter time are the chuan sellers.  Most of them are not ethnically Chinese, and they come from the Uigher region in north western China, or in the surrounding grasslands.  They make these sticks of lamb freshly on the street, and hand them too you straight of the grill.  They are seasoned with a mix of chilli, cumin, pepper, salt and I don't know what else, but they're delicious.  6 sticks cost us only 10 yuan (about $1.20 AUD).

I DIDN'T eat this.  I was just fascinated by this in the KFC window.  Prawn filled hats.  I haven't a clue why.  Both KFC and McDonalds menus are quite interesting to keep an eye on in overseas.  As well as the normal stuff, I have also seen fish balls, stuffed lotus root and rice wrapped in leaves in fast food joints here.

This was an attempt at Christmas lunch.  We didn't feel like turkey, so we went hunting for a nice Chinese meal.  I broke my rule here.  We were wandering about a new development in Foshan (more on that later) and came across a restaurant that looked quite nice.  It did have some customers, but not many. It was new, so I thought it would be worth a try.  Who knows, it might have been a new favourite.  It wasn't.  The above dish, I think, was fish paste with beans and what I think are Chinese olives.  It was horribly bland and really lacked any redeeming features. 

And this one, unfortunately, was proof that my reading of characters is not at 100%, because it had prawns in it.  It did look really good, and apparently tasted much better than the things that looked like grubs.  It was eggplant stuffed with a chicken and prawn mix in a garlic sauce.

So after the highly disappointing lunch, we splashed out a bit and ate at our hotel's Chinese restaurant. While the western restaurant was serving a very pricey Christmas set menu, we had a lovely Peking Duck for dinner, complemented by a very tasty garlic fried spinach. 

It was a very non-traditional Christmas meal, but very tasty.

These popped up in ou hotel room on Christmas night.  The gingerbread star was particularly good.

On our last day we had time to fill before our train back to Hong Kong, so we went walking.  For breakfast, we had freshly made barbeque pork buns.  They cost 1.5 yuan each, and were very yummy.  They weren't really enough to fuel a few hours' walk though, so by the time we found somewhere for lunch we were very hungry.  With all the new developments and changes in Foshan, we took a while to find somewhere for lunch, but when we did, it was so good!  Another Sichuan restaurant seemed like a good idea, as Sichuan food here in HK isn't that great.  This place was a tiny little restaurant made up of 2 tiny dining rooms and a tiny kitchen.  It was packed, and we stood out in there just a tiny bit, but it was worth it for the meal.

 We started with dan dan mian, which was pleasantly spicy.  The noodles were fresh, and very flavoursome.  We shared the bowl, but I think we could have eaten one each.  The bowl was only 11 yuan!  A lot of prices have gone up in China, so it makes me happy that I can still get an excellent bowl of noodles for so little cost.

This one is shuizhu niurou, which roughly translates as water boiled beef.  As you can see, the "water" is more of a chilli soup.  This one (despite the colour) was fairly mild so long as you didn't bite straight onto the Sichuan peppercorns, which have a curious numbing effect.  It was full of bean sprouts, cabbage and cucumber, and incredibly tender beef.  Delicious, and again, so cheap!

We finished off with shredded potatoes again, made slightly differently this time, without the chilli.  Instead, these were very garlicky and gingery which was a nice contrast from the chilli and numbing power of the sichuan pepper.  I think next time we're in Foshan, we'll definitely be heading back to this little restaurant. 

Christmas lights in Hong Kong

Hong Kong loves Christmas.  Any excuse to put up more neon is embraced by the city.  This time of year marks a build up to a long (longer than most) festive season.  First Christmas, then New Year and then Chinese New Year make for a very busy festive season.  On January 23rd, we'll be ushering in the year of the dragon.  It should be a good one!

The front of the beautiful Peninsula Hotel, with Santa and his reindeer.

1881 Heritage had a lovely set up, and even included a brass band playing Christmas carols.

The rest are buildings along Victoria Harbour.   Some of the lights were specifically put up for Christmas, and others for the whole season.  Next time I'm down there I am guessing that the whole lot will be dragon themed.  Dragon lights, lanterns, and flags are going up everywhere right now.