Hangzhou food and restaurants (part one)

Hangzhou, China
Hangzhou, China

Coming to food, Hangzhou won’t disappoint you. In fact, Hangzhou cuisine is currently one of the most popular and fashionable styles of cooking throughout China. Many “Hangzhou” inspired restaurants have been opening up throughout the country and the cuisine from this city is considered to be of a superior status. The master poet Su Dongpo of the Song dynasty once wrote in praise that “there are no better banquets in the world than those in Hangzhou.”

Recipes here usually contain a great deal of seafood including fish, shrimp, crab and oyster. Its famous dishes are Beggar’s chicken (an entire chicken wrapped and slowly cooked in a ball of mud), West Lake fish (vinegar coated fish from the lake), Dong Po Pork (braised pork) and stewed shelled shrimp cooked in Dragon Well tea, the famous tea from Hangzhou area.

The great thing about eating in Hangzhou is the city has retained quite a few traditional restaurants serving authentic Hangzhou dishes. The dining experience in these places is fun and exotic. Here’s one:

entrance to Zhi Wei Guan
Zhi Wei Guan

“Zhi Wei Guan” is a very old and famous restaurant in Hangzhou of 100 year history. It specializes in the local dishes and snacks, ranging from Won Ton soup and Xiaolongbao (small steamed pastries with rice), to noodles and desserts. The food is delicious and cheap, averaging about RMB5 to RMB10 for one dish. Xiaolongbao and Won Ton soup are among the most popular dishes.

How you order the food and pay for it is fun experience here. First of all, you will have to buy some tickets, with each ticket worth RMB1 (or RMB2 now with inflation?), and then exchange your tickets for any food you order at the counter. Behind the counter the staff is busy making all sorts of food, and at the same time serving customers the food they order.

There is constant movement in the restaurant, either in the kitchen area, which everybody can see, right behind the counter, or in the dining area where the crowd comes and goes. You can always sit and enjoy the food while watching the flow.

The eating ritual is not over yet. Before you go, you have to do one more thing. You return the unused tickets to the cashier in exchange for cash of equivalent value. Then you can walk away contentedly.

Add: 83, Ren He Road, West Lake

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