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Hangzhou recs?

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Tentatively planning another trip to Shanghai in March, and I may go to Hangzhou and hook up with someone who will be there on a tea reconnaissance. I spent two days there over a decade ago, and that was it. Any recommendations for eats (street food to high end)? Is Lou Wai Lou any good, or just living on its history/reputation? Any notable spots near the tea plantations?

[SHDW, if you are out there, what was that Hotel Restaurant you raved about a couple of years ago?]

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  1. Gary, I'm not SHDW, but I recall his recommending the restaurant at the new Hyatt. (It's on th city side of West Lake, not the Shangri-la side.) I ate three meals there last spring and enjoyed them all. If memory serves, SHDW was rhapsodic on the restaurant's version of Dong Po Rou. It's been deconstructed, so to speak. My wife loved it; I missed the simple unctuous quality of the original version. What one is given is a four-sided pyramid composed of, apparently, one very long strip of very thin pork wrapped around a core of dried bamboo shoots, all sitting on a platform of baby bok choy. One is also given a basket of chestnut pancakes—thick (3/8” or so) and perhaps 1 ½” in diameter. The meat is to be placed in the pancake, along with the bamboo shoots.
    Other dishes we liked were a whelk salad, a cold chicken in wine dish, and the obligatory West Lake Fish in Vinegar sauce.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Michael Rodriguez

      Thanks, that's exactly the restaurant Da Wei was talking about. Like you, I prefer more basic fare, but my fellow traveler is more into into high-end and innovative stuff. What treasures with a more proletarian grounding did you find in HZ?

      1. re: Gary Soup

        I don't have much information on proletarian pleasures in Hangzhou. We liked the Hyatt so much we had dinner there three or four times. (There's a no-smoking area in the dining room.) There's a Crystal Jade (a branch of the Shanghai operation) on that same side of the lake. A very attractive space with good food. You know about the Shang (I think) restaurant in the Shangri-La. Excellent food.
        For lunch we just ate wherever we happened to be. We had two god meals near the museum on the west side of Xi Hu, but I don't rememeber the name. Probably a guidebook will tell you. Good museum, too. And don't miss the new Xi Hu museum, No chow but interesting exhibits.

        1. re: Michael Rodriguez

          Did you try Lou Wai Lou? That's probably the most famous restaurant in Hangzhou, and the one the tour groups end up at. I'm wondering if it's still any good or still living on its 150 year-old reputation. The Frommer's guide, written by Sharon Owyang whose views on Shanghainese cuisine I respect, seemed to suggest it was worth going to. I think it was LWL that made Beggar's Chicken, Su Dongpo Pork and Longjing Shrimp culinary landmarks.

          http://www.louwailou.com.cn/

    2. Thanks for jogging my memory. We ate lunch there twice. The food was serviceable but not wonderful. The dish I liked best was soft dofu with preserved egg. Not haute cuisine by any means but very tasty.

      1. Someone posted a link to their own website, which I thought was very useful for restaurant info and other Hangzhou stuff, but the post was deleted, presumably because it was self-promotion. I have no connection to the subject website myself, but found it to be a very useful resource, so I'll post the link myself and hope that it sticks around:

        http://www.morehangzhou.com/index.html

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gary Soup

          Since someone apparently resident in Hangzhou is reading this thread, I have a question for him/her: When I was in Kunming a year or two ago I frequently walked past a small restaurant advertising (my translation) "Hangzhou Style Small Eats." My spoken Chinese wasn't up to the task of finding out what differentiates Hangzhou-style small eats from, say, Shanghai-style. Can you help? TIA.

        2. Tea reconnaissance: I visited Meijiawu, strolled through some tea plantings, visited a hall inspired by Zhou Enlai's frequent visits to this village (five in seven years), which were documented by many interesting photos, and ate a very good lunch by the side of one of the streams which flow alongside the main street. Good food in very pleasant surroundings.