Guizhou - Guiyang - Kaili
We're heading to Guizhou for about 10 days over May holiday, not quite sure where yet but we fly into Guiyang. Does anyone have any recommendations either for specific dishes or restaurants? The Guiyang city website has a little blurb on local specialities, otherwise I'm clueless....help :)
Guizhou food is my favorite in the world.
The make the most earth moving hot sauce that can be imagined. It combines silky, spicy, and smoky with a flavor peak that registers on the richter scale!
The hot sauce is best sampled in a dish called dou hua mian(sorry no Chinese on my computer, but means bean flower noodles) that is a famous dish originating from a city in the north of Guizhou province called Zunyi. The dish is a large bowl of warm soy milk with tofu and chewy wheat noodles inside. On its own it is quite lifeless but you will be provided with a small bowl which contains the dipping sauce: Fresh mint, the hot sauce, diced chicken or pork, hot oil, sometimes crispy soybeans or peanuts, sometimes fresh tomatoes, and green onions. Dip the noodles into this 'sauce' and use a spoon to catch a little bit of everything inside. Start to chew. A symphony of flavors will explode in your mouth! Add in a spoonful of the warm soy milk for another dimension. Pay close attention to the changing flavors as the full range of tastes devolop. I have never tasted anything that is so strong in my memory as this.
There are many places that serve this dish, but my favorite is strangely located in a small sort of indoor street food place called da shi zi guang chang on #8 gong yuan road.Only one place inside serves this dish and it is located in about the center of the vendors.
Other not to miss dishes are ken gu tou ( gnaw the bone)--street food consisting of stewed pork bones cut in half so you can eat the marrow; guo juen--little colored wraps made of rice from Anshun city rolled around various stewed meats and also filled with crispy soybeans, bean sprouts, and yu xing cao vegetable; mi dou fu--cut sticks of something that looks like tofu but is actually made of short grain rice ground and treated with a jian xing to partially hydrolyze the starch, then usually topped with a combination of fermented vegetables, hot sauce, cilantro, and peanuts; and don't forget the other noodle soups. There are so many different kinds of meats and pickled vegetables and noodles that the combinations are endless. Just be sure to try at least one that has the cui shau(spelling?) which are small dark cubes of very crispy pork belly..and don't forget to add the hot sauce!
The Howard Johnson at 29 Zaoshan Lu (Chinese name of the hotel: 贵州天怡豪生大酒店) is among the nicest hotels in Guiyang. I think you can reserve on the web. The hotel is a high-rise, the rooms have Western amenities and are clean and comfortable. It's also near Qianlin Park, which is not to be missed in the morning -- lots of people watching and the monkeys are very bold in coming down and demanding food.
On the eating front, the stalls on He Qun Lu (合群路) offer the snack foods described above, such as si wa wa. It's all extremely cheap. The only thing I would advise is avoid the stalls where they cook the food in a wok at your table. We had stinky tofu and nian gao, and they threw all the stuff together (which wasn't that good to begin w/) and it was a big icky mess. It was truly a crime against humanity. If you go to the "normal" stalls where you get separate dishes, it's a wonderful experience. Also, if you want to try sour soup fish (酸汤鱼), go to the Lao Kai Li Suan Tang Yu restaurant (老凯里酸汤鱼), on Sheng Fu Lu (省府路石板街上55号), tel., 0851-5843665. There's no English on the menu. Go early; it fills up fast. The fish comes in a tomato-like soup that's a little spicy in the Guizhou way (it tastes a little burnt and ashy to me). The other thing to get is xiao mi zha (小米鮓), which is sweet steamed glutinous rice, with bits of ham in it. Do not pass this up! You can also get it in the supermarkets there.
You're in for a treat--the food here is awesome. I enthusiastically recommend bean hot pot (dou mi huo guo, 豆米火锅), luo guo (literally "upside-down pot"), and street vendor fried bananas. Si wa wa wraps are worth trying, also. Bean hot pot restaurants are common in the shi da (师大) area and xin da xin (新大新) near the big gate of Guizhou Normal University is one of the safer, classier, and better restaurants. I always add mushrooms, er kuai ba, and bread balls in addition to the greens that come with the pot. It's a meal in and of itself. Luo guo is solely a night phenomenon, so after about 7pm, look for clusters of iron griddles set up on the sidewalks, often under tarps. Xiao gua, greens, and er kuai ba are great on it. Again, shi da is surrounded by these food sellers. The fried bananas might be harder to find, as there are just a few small stands. My favorite is across from the small gate of Guizhou Normal University and the Miracle Hotel at the 3-road intersection. I'd recommend asking around about si wa wa places--people will probably be incredibly jazzed that you're interested. Oh, sha guo fen (砂锅粉) makes a nice, cheap meal. You can choose between suan tang (酸汤) and qing tang (清汤) for soup (the sour is best) and xi fen, kuan fen, er quai ba, and fan for the substance. Enjoy!
Thanks very very much guys.. unfortunately the plans have been put on hold for the moment but but I'm psyched to go after the May insanity. I saw the NYT article, quite interesting, why oh why would I need to know how to say "I don't eat dog"..:)
Kasparen, I know this is veering off topic but if you have any reccomendations for places to stay I'd be much obliged, the city seems to have a glut of Chinese business hotels.
Here's a couple of handy tips:
Kung Pao Chicken was apparently invented in Guizhou and they are very insistent that it not have peanuts or dried chilis (only fresh) in it:
And Muzagh Travel's website has a handy tip for Guiyang: how to say "I don't eat dog."
re: Gary Soup
We’re just back from a trip to China that included 6 days in Guizhou Province. As suggested by other posters, the food there is terrific. We only spent 1 night in Guiyang but made a point to try the Gong Bao Chicken at the Guixi restaurant as described in the NY Times article mentioned in the first post in this thread.
Interestingly, the article makes a big deal about the recipe for the dish not including peanuts (like Kung Pao chicken does) but makes no mention of the fact that it does include cashews. This dish was so good we came close to licking the platter.
We had a friend write out the Chinese for Gong Bao chicken so we showed the waitress that but other than that one dish, we had no idea what was on the menu. And since none of the staff spoke English, we just pointed at a picture on the menu for our 2nd entrée. It turned out to be a straw mushroom and pork hot pot. It had an exotic citrus taste that we were later told came from a locally grown chili. It was hot but not so hot that we couldn’t enjoy the flavor. And it created a numbing sensation on our lips and tongue. This was obviously an expected effect for without ordering it, when the waitress brought our beverages, she also included a yogurt & aloe drink that soothed the numbing sensation. We experienced the same citrus chili flavor but without the same intensity in a chicken with chili dish one night in Shanghai. If you’re interested in having a look, we’ve posted a video showing the residue of the Gong Bao along with a more complete view of the hot pot at: http://crackle.com/c/Travel/Gong_Boa_Chicken/2072708#ml=fi%3D%26fu%3D2259037.
The balance of our time in Guizhou was split between some ethnic minority Miao villages near KaiLi, the capitol of the Maio and Dong Autonomous Prefecture in Southeastern Guizhou, and Zhenyuan, a tourist town on a plateau in the mountains of the eastern part of the province. We had a couple decent meals at Zhong De Yuan Holiday Hotel, where we stayed in Kaili but to be honest, because of the language barrier, we never did get the name of most of the places we ate in Guizhou.
But the food was consistently great.
We got hooked on a local specialty, vegetable (mostly baby bok choy) and tofu soup. We enjoyed lots of other vegetable dishes including eggplant in chilies. We came to expect spicy without being super hot meat dishes. One interesting dish we tried a couple times was “Squirrel Fish.” It’s served as a whole fish in a sweet and sour sauce and unlike the sweet and sour we are forced to endure here in the States, this one wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. The name of the dish comes from the presentation rather than the variety of fish. The head is carved to resemble a squirrel and the body is scored in a cross hatched pattern that makes the flesh pop out in tiny squares when cooked.
Another dish we really enjoyed was a rice noodle dish that has a name that translates to something like “tiny ants” as the thin noodles were cut very small and served in a garlic and chile sauce.
In addition to other meals, on a couple mornings, we enjoyed a traditional Chinese breakfast of dumplings and vegetable in chicken broth in Zhenyuan as seen in this video: http://www.crackle.com/c/Travel/Breafast_Dumplings_Preparation/2073926#ml=fi%3D%26fu%3D2259037
We’re usually pretty adventurous in our eating during travel but the only food stall we ate at during our 2-weeks in China on this trip was a snack of fried fish on the banks of the Wayang River near Zhenyuan. I was a little wary but we could see the fishermen catching the fish a few feet away so I figured it had to be fresh and I managed to get a quick whiff of the oil in the vendor’s wok before sitting down and it seemed fresh enough too so I gave it a shot. It was a simple dish of quick fried small fish (of several varieties) on a stick with the only condiment being a flavorful but relatively mild chilie powder. I would be happy to eat it again and am equally happy to report; my stomach suffered no ill effects of the snack. There’s a video of that at: http://www.crackle.com/c/Travel/Breaf....
All in all, we were just blown away by the food in Guizhou and look forward to going back for another taste.
Attached are a couple jpgs. The blue card are the dishes that we ate at Guixi restaurant. The white card also includes the Chinese for Gong Boa chicken but also the ant noodle dish and the vegetable and tofu soup.
We also had some great meals in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai that we’ll post separately.