City of taste
Be tempted by a smorgasbord of culinary delights from German and Japanese to traditional Chinese
Say what you like about Guangzhou, but there is one thing everyone who lives or visits here agrees on: the food is great. The city has a long tradition in the culinary arts, and the past two years have seen rapid growth in the variety and quality of its restaurants. Most new international and upscale Chinese restaurants have chosen to set up in the Tianhe and Dongshan districts, as investors tend to cluster near business centres and hotels. The old neighbourhoods of the Liwan and Xueyiu districts are not to be overlooked, however, as this is where traditional Chinese restaurants still serve up some of the best Cantonese cuisine in China. The Pearl River has attracted many classy restaurants, as patrons have shown their appreciation for riverfront views, particularly at Ersha Island and Yanjian Road.
Yanjian Road also has its share of trendy coffee shops and bars. The other main cluster for chitchat and gan-bei! is Taojin Road, in the Dongshan district.
Although the city?s growing cosmopolitan selection of restaurants does not always guarantee a bilingual menu, foreigners need not worry. Most menus carry pictures to please discerning locals who prefer to ?see? what they are ordering.
Following are just a few of the best we found.
A Back Street
11.30am ? 2am
Guangdong Museum of Arts, 38 Yan Yu Lu, Ersha Island
(86-20) 8735 396
Not surprisingly, the place attracts a loyal following of artists and professionals with its chic decor and diverse menu. Delicacies from around the world, such as Japan and Italy, can be enjoyed with a tranquil view of bamboos spreading outside the restaurant.
B Cow and Bridge Thai Cuisine 11am ? 11pm
2/F, Xianglong Huayuan, 175-181 Tianhe Bei Road
(86-20) 8525 0821
With 15 years of Thai culinary experience, the Cow and Bridge?s truly authentic dishes have won many hearts in Guangzhou since its first restaurant opened three years ago. It was awarded the certificate of Thailand Brand by the Guangzhou Thai consulate in 2002. Now relocated to the Tianhe District from Shamian Island, the restaurant continues its practice of using Thai-imported spices in pursuit of original flavours. Top the meal off with delicious desserts.
C Haveli Restaurant & Bar
11am ? 1am. No cards
Overseas Chinese Village, 2 Aiguo Lu,
by Huanshi Dong Lu
(86-20) 8359 4533
Veteran Indian chefs serve a variety of tasty dishes, from curries to barbecues, and the spices can be poured on to your heart?s content. For those who are not too keen on spicy dishes, there are other options on the menu, such as Thai and Italian. Choose between a romantic indoor dining space and an inviting outdoor seating area. Best yet is the price: a set lunch is available at 38 yuan.
D Italian Restaurant
Daily 11am ? 2am
3/F, East Tower, Zhujiang Building,
360 Huanshi Dong Lu
(86-20) 8386 3840
The bistro features an open kitchen where pizzas are made in front of customers. With a wide range of toppings and sauces, you can create your own flavours and complement the meal with a wide selection of house wines. Special buffets on Friday and Saturday nights cost 88 yuan.
E Japan Fusion
11am ? 11pm
2/F Metro Plaza, 358-378 Tianhe Bei Lu
(86-20) 3880 8118
Covering a full 7,000 square metres, this is apparently the biggest Japanese restaurant in China. Needless to say, it offers a great variety of freshly imported sashimi. The real experience, however, is in the ambience, with the sound of heels clicking their way across stone floors and shouts of shiminoseki erupting now and then. Presentation is superb and the framed kimonos on the walls add a beautiful touch.
F Lemon House Vietnamese Cuisine
11am ? 11pm. No cards
G/F, 11 Jianshe Liu Ma Lu/507 Huifu Road East
(86-20) 8375 3600/8318 9715
Popular among locals and foreigners, the restaurant serves Vietnamese, and some Thai, dishes at reasonable prices.
G Le Seine Restaurant Francais
11am ? 2.30pm, 5.30pm ? midnight
G/F Xing Hai Concert Hall, 33 Qing Bo Road Ersha Island
(86-20) 8735 2531
Enjoy the city?s best French gastronomy with a front-row view of the Pearl River. Located inside the Xing Hai Concert Hall, the elegantly decorated restaurant serves Nouvelle cuisine by a talented resident French chef.
10am ? midnight. No cards
3-103 Xincheng Bei Jie, Thaihe Dong Lu
(86-20) 3881 0594
Duck into Milano?s if you are looking for a romantic night out. The trattoria-style decor plus a live classical and jazz performance on weekends promise to fascinate your significant other.
I The Paddy Field Irish Pub & Restaurant
8pm ? 2pm
Central Plaza G/F, 38 Huale Lu
(86-20) 8360 1248
This is the first and, so far, the only Irish pub and restaurant in Guangzhou. You can either gulp down the tipples of Ireland in the bar area or sample their classic Irish dishes in the dining space.
J Red Square
Tuesday ? Sunday, noon ? 2am. No cards
2/F Cathay Hotel, 372 Huanshi Dong Lu
(86-20) 8381 9557
Traditional Russian dishes, such as beef stroganoff and chicken kiev, are served up here at reasonable prices. Russian staff will be on hand to help if you are a novice.
K Sportsman?s American Restaurant &
Daily 11am ? 2am. No cards
28 Taijin Jie
(86-20) 8359 1509
Sample some of the best American dishes in town in this spacious restaurant. The JJ?s Bar on the second floor is reserved for parties only. Sporting fans can also join the ?Hash Crash? to run around the city every Saturday and occasionally on Wednesday.
L Sky Cafe Revolving Restaurant
7am ? 11am, 11.30am ? 5.30pm,
6pm ? midnight
45/F Asia International Hotel, Section 1, No 326, Huanshi Road East
(86-20) 6128 8888 (ext 4583)
If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you can enjoy the scenery of Baiyun Hill and Luhu Lake at the highest revolving restaurant in Guangzhou. Its buffet features Japanese and Thai food at 170 yuan for lunch and 229 yuan for dinner.
M Viceroy ? The Indian Restaurant
Daily 11am ? midnight. No cards.
183 Yanjiang Lu
(86-20) 8319 2478
Spice up your taste buds with an array of 44 curries at the Viceroy. The restaurant features north, and south Indian curries, with special halal and Jian recipes.
1 Tao Tao Ju
Daily 6.30am ? midnight
20 Dishipu Road, Liwan District
(86-20) 8139 6111
It?s hard to forget the majestic entrance of this century-old restaurant. The three-storey building was an academy for the well-to-do before it was transformed into a venue for classy dining in Guangzhou?s early days of the Republican period. The restaurant is always packed thanks to a dim sum menu of more than 200 items, starting at 3.5 yuan.
2 Tao Heung Seafood Hotpot Restaurant
Daily 6.30am ? 1am
1) 2/F,Guangzhou International Financial Building, 197 Dongfeng Road West, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8331 8888
2) Blk A, 2/F, Hotel Landmark Canton,
8 Qiaoguang Road, Liwan District
(86-20) 8330 5190
3) 1/F Regal Riveria Hotel, Yiyuan Road, Xingong Road Central, Haizhu District
(86-20) 6129 7552
Probably the hottest dim sum and hotpot restaurant chain in town, its pleasant decor will be familiar to Hongkongers. Expect to wait at least an hour for a table, while private rooms (with a minimum charge of 280 yuan and up) are also booked out easily. Menus are slightly different from those seen in Hong Kong. The pastries are superb, and the cashew nuts, puffy pastry, and steamed-egg custard buns are a must. Service standards set it apart from the rest.
3 Greenland Chinese Restaurant
Daily 7.30am ? 3pm, 5pm ? 10.30pm
14/F, New Shopping Plaza, Huangpu Avenue West, Tianhe District
(86-20) 8529 3488
2) 6/F Guangzhou International Trade Centre,
1 Linhe West Road, Tianhe District
(86-20) 3878 3228
3) 9/F Grandbuy Building, 12 Xihu Road, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8336 6588
The only specialist in nong jia cai, or country-style cooking, this place serves traditional rural village dishes (such as stir-fried sweet potato leaves) in a classy setting. Enjoy a cargo lift up to the restaurant. A mushroom buffet at $48 yuan is particularly enjoyable.
4 Xin Li Zhi Wan Restaurant
Daily 11.am ? 2.30pm, 5pm ? 10.30pm
1 ) 2-3/F, Metro Plaza, 189 Tianhe North Road, Tianhe District
(86-20) 8755 3668
2 ) 50 Shamian South Street, Liwan District
(86-20) 8121 6168
3) 5-6/F, 403 Huanshi Road East, Dongshan District
(86-20) 8732 2388
4) 15 Qingbo Lu, Ersha Island, Dongshan District
(86-20) 8735 1133
This mid-priced seafood restaurant chain?s best branch is at Ersha Island, with a great view of the Pearl River. The menu may not be extensive, but it is adventurous, with new styles of Cantonese cooking, such as the braised lobster in soybean sauce at 118 yuan.
5 The Peninsula
Mon ? Fri, 11am ? 3pm, 5pm -11pm, Weekend and public holidays, 9am ? 3pm, 5pm ? 11pm
3-5/F, Sports Exchange Centre, 28 Datong Road, Ersha Island,Dongshan District
(86-20) 8735 3283
Shocking colours and bright lighting are the trademark of this chic three-storey restaurant on the riverfront, which serves Cantonese, Western and Japanese fusion cuisine. Each dish comes in a colourful and imaginative presentation. It also serves foie gras from Shangdong province.
6 Liwan Traditional Snacks Restaurant
Daily 7am-11pm. No cards
99 Dishipu Road, Liwan District
(86-20) 8139 1405
A one-stop shop for the most popular Liwan traditional snacks prepared by three of Guangzhou?s top snack labels. Congee, rice rolls, dairy desserts and noodles are served up at dirt-cheap prices. The incredibly smooth ginger milk custard ($5) is made to order. Operating like a cafeteria, the place can get chaotic, so be warned.
7 Yong Ya Shan Dang
Daily 11am -2.30pm, 5pm-6am
Local cards only
North gate, Yuexiu Park, Huanshi Road East,Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8666 6626
A hotpot restaurant serving Chinese medicine-based soups, camel meat and fish head delicacies. Other than to enjoy the view, sitting outside can be an ideal alternative to fighting the heat and steam. Look for the golden elephant outside the main door.
8 Shui She Cun (Water Snake Village)
Daily 6.30am ? 3am. Local cards only
West gate, Culture Park, Kangwang Road, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8101 2293
Literally a snack palace. Patrons can pick their own bits at the ?snack tank?. All and basically any part of the snack could turn into a delicacy, even the snake skin.
9 Chuan Guo Yan Yi
Daily 11.30am ? 10.30pm
4/F South Stock Building, 140-148 Tiyu Dong Lu, Tianhe District
(86-20) 3887 3878
A representative of Sichuan food in Guangzhou, with spices and ingredients that are truly authentic. The hotpot costs about $80 per person. You can smell the spicy and pungent flavours from the door.
10 Shang Shi Zhai Vegetarian Restaurant
Daily 6am-2.30pm, 4.30pm-9.30pm. No cards
2/F, 38 Jinghui Lu, YueXiu District
(86-20) 8108 0385
Located a block away in a Guangzhau temple, this vegetarian eatery is in an ideally quiet spot. It looks like a real temple, and offers a peaceful dining experience which is almost impossible to find in Guangzhou.
11 Dong Ting Local Restaurant
1) 10/F, Zhaoqing Building, 304 Huanshi Road Central, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8354 2848
210 Zhongshan Eighth Road, Liwan District
3 ) 59 Tianhe Road East, Tianhe District.
(86-20) 8354 2848
The urban legend is that this restaurant?s owner is a former Hunan security guard who used to help his boss prepare dinner. He was later asked to help run a restaurant which eventually grew into a chain in Guangzhou. The setting is simple and homely, while dishes are spicy and salty. Try the Dongting local pot-roast chicken, bamboo shoots and braised pig chin.
12 Xiang Cun Guan
Daily 11am-10.30am. Local cards only
1 ) 23 Xianlie Road South, Dongshan Distict
(86-20) 8778 9888 ext 86128
2 ) Tower 28 Guofang Building 888 Huangpu
Avenue, Tianhe District
(86-20) 3889 9825
3 ) Baoxin Building, Siyou Road West, Wu Yang Xin Cheng, Dongshan District
(86-20) 8737 5526
You could hardly tell this is a Hunan restaurant by the attire of its waiters: denim overalls and white T-shirts. Nevertheless, high-quality Hunan dishes are served at medium prices. Challenge your taste buds with the fish head covered in a red hot chilli-pepper sauce for $38.
13 Bostan Xinjiang Restaurant
Daily 8am-4am. Local cards only
2/F, Xinjiang Building, 76 Tianhe North Road, Tianhe District
(86-20) 3881 7788 ext 1706
The place to eat for local and overseas Muslims, with an almost mutton-only menu. This is a lively eatery, with daily live performances by musicians and dancers from Xinjiang and Qinghai at 7.30pm. Other than the lamb strip wrapped in pancake and yogurt dips, try the taste of original Xinjiang black beer.
a Blue Note Bar
7.30pm ? 2am. No cards
G/F 165 Taojin Lu
(86-20) 8359 3384
The only bar we could find in Guangzhou with live jazz performances. Professionals and amateurs jam on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
b Deep Anger Music Power House
8pm ? 2am
183 Yanjiang Lu
(86-20) 8317 7158
They?re not that mad, really. The DJs do try their best to get the emotions flowing, however, with hard rock music. The bartenders seem knowledgeable about a wide range of drinks.
c The Mansion
3pm ? 2pm. Local cards only
11 Xingqing Lu
(86-20) 8761 9950
As the name suggests, this is a place for cash-rich yuppies to hang out in sophisticated homeliness. The three-storey house has a mini-club on the first floor, a VIP room which can be reserved for private parties on the second and an art gallery on the third.
d People?s Cakes & Coffee
8am ? midnight
Rm102, 17 Jianshe Liu Ma Lu, Dongshan District
Despite its small size, this cafe has enticed a young and white-collar following. Opened by a pair of charming Korean sisters, it supplies freshly brewed coffee and homemade cakes. The latest treats include low-fat cakes made of sweet potatoes and yogurt.
e Ten cafe
3pm ? 2am
10 Yandun Lu
(86-20) 8766 9918
Opened two years ago, this was the first cafe in Guangzhou to offer patrons real cool. Elegantly decorated, it has comfy sofas where customers can sip while enjoying some moody music.
f Wave Bar
6 Heping Lu, Overseas Village,
Huanshi Road East
(86-20) 8349 4568
The two-storey bar houses a disco on the first floor and a stage for special performances on the second. These include singers posing as pop stars such as the late Anita Mui Yim-fong. A Sichuan bian lian (face-changing) show comes on every Friday and Saturday night.
g Baby face/ Xi Gong
Daily 8pm-late. No Cards
83 Changdi Main Road, Yuexiu District
147 Yanjiang Road West, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8335 5771
Guangzhou?s answer to Dragon-i. This overcrowded two-level club is often filled by a fashionable and energetic crowd, despite having the most space in town. A tasteful interior design, high-tempo music and a guest DJ each month have made it a favorite hangout for locals, Hongkongers and foreigners alike.
A step back from the heat of Baby face is Xi Gong, a chill-out lounge with funkier and hip-hop beats at the other end of the club. Cover charge starts at $30 on weekends. Beer is $40.
h F4 Bar
Daily 8pm-5am. No Cards
1/F TP Plaza, 109 Liuhua Road, Yuexiu District
The place to gain an understanding of how locals define clubbing: eating fruit, playing dice and singing karaoke to the DJ?s beat. The dim and smoky club is a popular hangout for young debutantes on the dance floor. Guest DJs come from all over the world to spin every month. Beer and cocktails start at $45.
i 1920 Restaurant and bar
Daily 11am ? 2am
183 Yanjian Road Central, Yuexiu District
(86-20) 8333 6156
Guangzhou?s one and only German restaurant and bar. With a riverfront view, its elegant and arty decor attracts a sophisticated, mostly foreign crowd. It has its own small garden.
j Xiao Yuen Coffee
Mon- Fri, 2pm -2am, Weekend and public
holiday, 11am-2pm. No Cards
i) 106 Tianhe North First Road, Tianhe District
(86-20) 8551 8604
ii) 6 Tiyu Road West Heng Jie, Tianhe District
(86-20) 8558 3635
Two cosy coffee shops with a touch of Japanese in their design. Decor includes pictures taken during the owners? travels through Cambodia and Peru. Each has a patio in front, providing a pleasant and relaxing vibe in contrast to the city?s standard sidewalk scenery.
k 63 Cafe
Daily 24 hours. No Cards
413 Tianhe Road North, Tianhe District
(86-20) 3880 5863
Tasteful mahogany furniture clustered together cosily provides a warm feel to this place. There are boxes of freshly baked coffee beans at the front door, from which coffee addicts are welcome to make their own selections. Look out for the Duke Ellington posters and Chairman Mao Zedong figurines.
l Liuhua Tea Art House
Liuhua Park West, Liuhua Road, Yuexiu
(86-20) 8138 3295 ext 801
All seats at this traditional teahouse share a view of the man-made lake. Patrons can get some hands-on experience from the tea master, while the delicate Chinese cakes and pastries make for an ideal high tea with a few friends.
WHERE TO STAY
The luxury hotel market in Guangzhou is being shaken up with the arrival of at least five new properties over the next three years.
The way many people choose their
hotels now is by location. The big three ? China Hotel, White Swan, and Garden ? are in three very different districts.
The China Hotel used to be directly opposite the site of the Canton Fair, which has since moved to the new International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
The White Swan is fine if you like to just relax or are in town to adopt a baby, as it's next to the American consulate on Shamian Island. You can also wander around the old colonial-era buildings in your spare time.
But it is quite far from the main business districts of Dongshan (where the Garden
Hotel is located) and Tianhe, where several of the new hotels are being built.
For our money, it's a coin-toss. The China Hotel, run by the Marriott group under the energetic leadership of Rauf Malik, has the most personalised and English-friendly service, and a fun champagne and cigar bar. Its operators always thank you for calling and remember your name.
The other two have big lobbies, big restaurants, and a headstart in big refurbishment plans. All three offer discounts to their published room rates outside of the silly seasons in April and October, when the Canton Fair is on.
Cheaper but comfortable alternatives are the Dongfang Hotel, the Holiday Inn, the Guangdong International Hotel, and the Tianlun International Hotel.
(86-20) 8666 6888
1,013 rooms, published rates start at US$160
Facilities include: shopping arcade, fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool, business centre, children?s playground, hair salon/barber, concierge services, gift shop/newsstand, airline desk and ticketing centre, restaurants, champagne and cigar lounge.
368 Huanshi Dong Lu
(86-20) 8333 8989
1,028 rooms, rack rates start at US$160
Facilities include: restaurants, conference rooms, business centre, health club and spa , swimming pool, squash courts, tennis, shopping arcade, beauty salon.
White Swan Hotel
No 1 Southern Street, Shamian Island
(86-20) 8188 6968
843 rooms, rack rates start at US$148
Facilities include: restaurants, conference rooms, business centre, health club and spa, swimming pool, squash courts, indoor and outdoor tennis, golf driving range, shopping arcade, beauty salon.
No 120 Liu Hua Road
(86-20) 8666 9900
1,100 rooms, rack rates start at US$68
Facilities: ticket agency, post office, bookstore, Chinese and English translation service, business centre, flower shop, beauty and barber shop, photo finishing, restaurants.
Guangdong International Hotel
339 Huanshi Dong Lu, Guangzhou
Tel: (86-20) 8331 1888
Fax: (86-20) 8331 1666
702 rooms, published rates start at US$140
Facilities include: fitness centre, swimming pool, massage centre, beauty salon, tennis court, squash court, restaurants, bar (pool & snooker), disco and karaoke rooms.
Tianlun International Hotel
172 Linhe Road, Tianhe
395 rooms, rack rates start at US$63
Facilities include: conference facilities, business centre, ticketing centre, volleyball court, mahjong room, restaurants.
Holiday Inn City Centre Guangzhou
Village, Huanshi Dong Lu
Tel: (86-20) 61286868
430 rooms, including 38 suites and 11 apartments. Rack rates start at US$90 Facilities include: restaurants, ballroom and conference rooms, a 500-seat cinema, a fitness centre and health club with saunas and steam baths, a swimming pool, an art gallery and a hair salon.