why should i bypass guangzhou[转载]

发表日期:2011-02-02 摄影器材: 点击数: 投票数:


YUMCHA and DIMSUM 《一盅两件》
Arriving at the Guangzhou East railway station in mid morning, we headed into the heart of Xiguan – the Shangxia Jiu Shophouses Pedestrian streets area, off the Chengzhoulu metro station. It was not so much because of my appetite for discovering Xiguan than that it was the perfect timing to join the “yumcha” party of the Guangzhou residents, as those streets also house the oldest culinary restaurants of the Cantonese cuisine.

Yumcha, tea drinking, is still an early breakfast of the elderly, and a pastime of the oldies..., accompanied by their bouncing, chirping birdies in well carved wooden cages, to start the day with the tasting of the dimsum, or little delicacies, in a sip of fragrant or Kungfu tea, and at the same time being entertained by the Cantonese opera singing. But only the Datong restaurant preserves the tradition.

Today yumcha becomes often a brunch, of always dimsum and tea, maybe combined with a few fried noodles or rice dishes. It can be occasions of family day out, weekend reunions, meeting of friends, dating, business appointments, or just exchanges of news in town across neighbouring tables... In any case it is as well a place of chatting, and is very loud. But the whole idea is a very delightful lifestyle.

The earliest dimsum was documented as small dishes of delicacies, of sweet pastries, in the imperial banquet of the Tang Dynasty. Another assumption was its origin from teahouses at crossroads, serving snacks to weary en route silk road traders.

It is thus in any case not an invention of the Cantonese; but the Cantonese has developed it into today’s sublime culinary tastes and artistry - that could be expressed into some 2,000 varieties, usually being served in up to 100 kinds, in different wrappings and combination of fillings, all with fresh ingredients, and made with a lot of skills, being steamed, deep-fried among other cooking methods; in a given day in larger restaurants, and it is being achieved in such repercussions that the Dimsum is known worldwide and sometimes stereotypes the Chinese cuisine, through the Cantonese yumcha..
The Fabulous Culinary Five 《食在广州》
The oldest restaurants are the fabulous five remainders - Guangzhou Jiujia (Nº 2 Wenchang Nan Lu,), Lianxiang Lou (Nº. 67 Di Shi Fu Lu), Taotaoju (Nº. 20 Di Shi Fu Lu), Panxi (nº 151 Longjin Xi Lu) and Datong (nº 63 Yanjiang XI Lu).

We were at Guangzhou restaurant, and the old restaurant at Shangxia Jia still served the dimsum by a lady with a heated cart, shouting the varieties of the dimsum in piles of bamboo baskets in hot. fragrant steam.

We ordered to our heart’s delights, as what Dimsum literrally mean in Chinese.

My favourite is Har Gau, known to some as « ravioli aux crevettes », a crystalline white face of crescent shaped rice pastry, and as the steam unveils, as if blush becomes her, the rosy taints of shrimps and hidden, minced asparagus shoots fillings reveal themselves– just a touch of these fresh ingredients intently blended, and almost short of seasonings than a pinch of fleur de sel, being cooked à la vapeur in the steamer basket, all of which retain the tastes of the food as fresh and as original, only seasoned naturally by the juices of the food from steaming, a principle that, in my opinion, makes the Cantonese cuisine among the best cooking in the world.

The Cantonese love to drink tea and eat alfresco in a garden, amidst “bird chirping and floral fragrance” as a saying goes, the delightful pagoda, lotus ponds and colonnades with weepy willows and sturdy bamboos. The Panxi Restaurant, historical relic site of the Western Han Dynasty Nanyue King’s concubine palace, the largest garden-styled restaurant in Guangdong, and probably in China, is the one to go… but it was under 'renovation”; and a Guangzhou resident told us that hopefully it will reopen its gate one day… But that is a serious news, isn’t it… another trace of footstep back to the intangible Xiguan lost.¹

An alternative of the garden style is the younger Nanyuan (nº 142 Qianjin Lu, Haizhu District), but it does not belong to the Xiguan era.

In my opinion I rate the Datong Restaurant, overlooking the Pearl River on Yanjiang Xi Lu, offering the best culinary tastes, and at a reasonable price. Its specialty is ‘Red’ crispy chicken (红烧乳鸽), a term borrowed to make allusion of the “redness”, or being deep fried to the optimal golden state, to the popularity, and with an undertone of luck, of some charismatic persons, like the flamboyant Xiguan people.
¹ The Panxi Restaurant has been reopened after renovation, and is in fact rated best in Guangzhou by the author

Old Architecture of Xiguan (西关古老大屋群)

Strolling down the bustling commercial Shangxia Jia Lu and Dishifu Lu, we were still interested in the vernacular, terraced, two to four storey shophouses, with “Qi Lou” or pillars in front of them, attaching the store to the second storey from the pavement.

The shophouses burgeon on both sides of the pedestrian road, winding as the direction of the road leads, and we were led to Enning Lu, where the century-old shops and commercial boutiques, colourful Manchu stain-glassed windows and Shanshui scenery façade carvings are replaced by the same styled but worn out buildings - on street level, I saw elders with bamboo fan peeping from the sliding timber door, women washing vegetables outside shops of old fashioned trades such as copper Chinese fondu casseroles and woks, barbers, shoe-menders, tailors, Cantonese opera costumes, herbal tea stalls…; upstairs were domestic display of untended plants penetrating walls, crevices, together with thriving Chinese orchids, birds in hanging cages, and large scale laundry on bamboos.

We stopped at nº 177 Enning Road, and visited the Hall of Ba He Hui Guan (八和会馆) , the home of Cantonese opera. The intermittent echoes of the apprenticing artists’ rudiments from unpermitted halls, in accomplice with the dim lamplight under the high ceilings, the lingering of an ‘ancient’ community in the hall of antique furnishings, display of dramatic costumes and exotic Chinese instruments, and the stale air behind the timber bars of the sliding façade door all made the time unreal there, and some intangible something were haunting there….


In an alley we turned into from Dishier Fu on Enning Lu in search of the residence site of the father of Chinese railway, Zhan Tianyou (with an interesting backyard of a 'zig-zag' rail section, the design of Zhan), we were reunited into the mundane life of the local residents who occupy nowadays these Xiguan houses, of which we had a glimpse later on the way back at Baohua Lu, being invited by a woman waiting for her turn at the mahjong table, as she had unexpected guests that day that made up an odd number for the 4-party battle..

Chen Ancestral Hall 《古祠流芳》


Now the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum, the Ancestral Hall of the Chen clan (it was said that the surname Chan prevails in Guangdong and Lee the ‘world’!) was built in the sixteenth year (1890) of Guangxu Emperor of the Qing Dynasty when a distinguished scholar Chen won a third place in the highest imperial examination and was conferred a distinguished office title. Mr. Chen, in honour of the ancestors, raised the fund from the Chen kinship in Guangdong and abroad to build the clan temple which mainly served as an academy for scholars of the Chen families, in 72 counties, very large family indeed, of the Guangdong Province.

The compound is a confined complex, greeted by a pair of huge stone drums and a door with best artistic rated paintings of door guardian gods, and consisting of nine halls, six courtyards and nineteen houses connected by corridors. It is a beautiful architecture with an academic ambience, symmetrical structures and gardens, and the all sorts of folk architectural and decorative arts, famous for its 'Three Carvings' (stone, wood and brick carvings), 'Three sculptures' (ceramic sculpture, clay sculpture and colorful sculpture) and 'One cast' (cast iron). It is rated the best of all the clan temples of this genre in Lingnan, in the south, perhaps, in my opinion, rivaling the Ancestral Temple of Foshan.


The downtown Guangzhou takes on a circular shape and is surrounded by the Pearl River which must have served the natural function of a city wall and that should account for its absence. The Pearl River, named after a huge, rounded shaped, smooth boulder from the river bed, “sea pearl”, diverts into three off Huangsha area where the Pearl River cruise can be boarded at the Long Dyke pier off the century-old department store Nanfong Building, and some steps further is the Shamian Island.

In Xiguan days, Xiguan people entertained guests on board of “Zi Dong” boat (紫洞舫) that could accommodate several tables of banquets serving freshly caught seafood, again very delightful in the midst of white lotus and ripened lychees on summer nights. The Bay would be packed with an array of the little boats (紫洞艇) hosted by beautiful Xiaojie in tight Qi-pao or banner dress and veiled shawl offering companionship, discussions, singing, Pipa or Zheng music, .wine and banquet.

Today a taste of this kind of floating clubbing can be revisited at a water garden-styled restaurant, Tang Lee Yuan, inside Liwan Lake park, where a large boat of banquet rooms not unlike the Zi Dong boat idea and a row of small boats are dining tables, to whcih the food is paddled by a waitress, and a separate boat serves as kitchen making a famous local dish, the Liwan boat congee (荔湾艇仔粥), a porridge fishermen in the old days prepared with fresh seafood and the fabulous thousand-year egg . The restaurant also serves a full Cantonese cuisine menu for the main courses, even with some rare dishes that might put off travelers, and the food is good. Whether on board of a boat, laid back at the terrace, or secluded in the large banquet boat, every guest may enjoy the ambience and view from dusk tainting the water until lighting up of the lantern lights till after midnight.



《why should i bypass guangzhou[转载]》


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