Guangzhou, China: A Tasting Tour with Jianyu Leung
Guangzhou (Canton) is China’s third largest and richest city, and is acclaimed as its city of gastronomy, and the home of Cantonese cuisine. As China’s South Gate, Guangzhou also offers quick access to Hong Kong and Macau.
This June, the Michelin Guide arrived in Guangzhou for the first time, awarding eight restaurants with one star, including Jade River at the White Swan Hotel, regarded by locals as one of the best spots for authentic Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant’s Executive Chef, Jianyu Leung, has over a 28-year career, devoted himself to elevating Cantonese cuisine with classic soul, but with insightful perspectives.
Where to eat in Guangzhou? Here the chef shares some of his favourite food spots in town.
Dine Like a Local
Canton is the home of ‘Yumcha’ (the Cantonese tradition of brunch involving tea and dim sum) with a time-honoured history and brilliant culture. Hongtu Hall is one of the best places to have wonderful Cantonese dim sum. It is very popular and the locals from young to old get ready to wait in line.
The Cantonese eat rice rolls and congee all day long, from breakfast to late night. The congees at Yuan Ji are quite exceptional, because of the very fresh ingredients and their patience. They provide bowls of classic Cantonese congee that are difficult to find elsewhere.
Da Ge Restaurant
Da Ge Restaurant’s owner Mrs. Rong believes that she should offer an authentic Hong Kong-style dining room in Guangzhou, even though the gourmet cultures are similar – but her dishes are even better than in Hong Kong. As for many other people, my favourite is beef chow fun.
Lianfeng Food Stall
Offal is significant in Cantonese gourmet culture, whether in soup, congee or rice. Lianfeng Food Stall is an impeccable spot to have pig organ soup or similar. The ingredients are cleaned and the varieties increase after 11pm, with people driving from far away to eat there late at night.
Lide Noodle Bar
Noodles are indispensable for daily life and Cantonese noodles’ texture and flavour tend to be more exquisite than in other parts of China. Lide Noodle Bar’s noodle soup is outstanding, as is its Cantonese barbecued pork.
Haiyan Lou is a spot for affordable delicacies like buttery foie gras and barbecued pork.
The owner of Huacheng Garden keeps a low profile and consistently offers the best family-style dishes. Every early morning he visits a variety of seafood markets to buy fresh ingredients. He has said that what he is offering is what he eats in Huacheng Garden each day, which is his passion. I like the soup and chicken very much.
Wut Put (Jianshe Road Branch)
It is rare that the locals have seafood barbecue, but Wut Put delivers it. With a casual atmosphere, guests are able to relax after work, in the midst of aromas from the barbecue. Enjoy a beer or whisky paired with the food. Wut Put is also a perfect choice for late night.
Mr. Rocky’s cozy atmosphere and comfort food at reasonable prices has won it a reputation in the city. The pizza, cooked on the spot, is fresh and delicious.
High End Restaurants
Newly Michelin-starred Jiang by chef Fei fuses Cantonese and Hainan cuisine. He also embraces modern plating and cooking techniques. I highly recommend the steamed crab with Chinese Shaoxing wine and refined chicken fat, and the beef.
Yue Jing Xuan
As the saying goes, less is more. Yue Jing Xuan selects the best of the best, offering only a few choices, which emerge from an open kitchen that brings the chefs and guests closer together. I really like the dish of barbecue crispy pork belly, because they only choose the tenderest pieces.
You’ll find surprises in every single dish at The Penthouse, although they look simple. The reason I like the steamed asparagus with garlic puree is that take really good care of the garlic puree with their hands, which takes time, but it melts in your mouth. Aside from The Penthouse, the buffet restaurant in the hotel is worth dropping into and is ranked as one of the best buffets by local foodies.
Guangzhou is a port city with abundant seafood, and Huangsha Aquatic Product Trading Market by the wharf is the busiest seafood market in the city. Normally, the market offers fresh seafood from everywhere. There are also some restaurants in the market where they cook the still living seafood that you just bought from the seafood stalls.