Off to Yangshuo - Eating and Cooking School tips?
In two weeks I'm heading to Yangshuo, South-East China's tourist mecca. Can anyone recommend great places to eat local food, and a Chinese cooking school? I have heard that an Australian woman may be running a cooking school there, and given the rudimentary state of my mandarin an English speaking teacher would be a big bonus. Any tips, help, advice and previous experiences greatly appreciated!
Thanks Dave, just back from our trip and despite reading your very thorough report for the first time today, I still managed to find plenty of good food!
Firstly, the Yangshuo Cooking School was a great find. They run two classes most days, morning and afternoon. All the classes are preceded by a trip to the wet market in Yangshuo - I shop daily at wet markets in Shanghai but there were plenty of things I'd never seen before including enormous baskets of freshly picked pumpkin flowers ( a local specialty, stuffed or made into soup when in season), river snails, baby taro and yes, several stalls selling fresh and air-dried dog meat.
The classes are hands on, in a wonderful restored country house just outside Yangshuo, or in town close to the river. The day of my class we made 'pijiu yu' with fresh catfish fillets, and another 4 dishes. Great value at 120 yuan per person.
As far as restaurant highlights, I only have a couple to add to your list. We spent a lot of time by the Yulong River, and there are a number of cheap and cheerful riverside restaurants serving great food. The pick is definitely the river fish, cooked many ways. The fish are kept alive in holding pens by the river bank, swimming around until a customer arrives! We tried pijiu yu, the local specialty, cooked with small whole catfish rather than fillets, with he rich beer infused sauce it was superb. Also tried deep fried slated fish, eaten whole - delicious.
Our best meals though, were in the middle of the Yulong River. When you catch a bamboo raft down the river there are floating restaurants all the way serving barbecued fish. The very last restaurant is by far the best. In order to avoid the two hour long raft ride (relaxing, but sometimes you are just hungry!) we cycled to the river bank and I swam across to the restaurant with 100 yuan in a plastic bag tucked under my hat.
The whole fish are first deep fried, then skewered and basted with a mixture of cumin, ground peanuts and sesame seeds, and chili, then barbecued over coals and served with a home style chili paste. I was in food heaven - green river all around, and fantastic food in front of me. Of course, if you can't swim there is always the raft...
Lastly, we stayed at guesthouse The Giggling Tree, in Aishanmen village just outside Yangshuo. For a relaxing meal while you are out biking it's hard to go past the lovely terrace overlooking the rice fields and karst peaks, and a choice of good Chinese food or good Western food with a tall bottle of chilled local beer LiQuan. Cheers!
Thanks for the report. I laughed out loud reading the line about the bamboo rafts.....I've never taken one of those bamboo raft rides since they seem a bit boring compared to eating :)
So, can you describe a bit better where you got that bbq deep fried fish?
I assume that when you went rafting you got into the bamboo raft near Giggling Tree, and then went as far as the bridge near Moon Hill? So, if you are coming downstream from Giggling Tree, was the fish place on the right side of the river? Or was the restaurant a boat, in which case it could be anywhere? Where did you park your bikes and swim from?
Let me know, as I will try to find this place, as I'm in Yangshuo now.
Glad to hear you enjoyed the Yangshuo Cooking School - both locations are beautiful settings.
Might be too late to write this now, but the school you are thinking of is the Yangshuo Cooking School. One of the owners are Australian, but she isn't the teacher - the teachers are all Chinese. The school is excellent, classes are great, food is great - overall a really good value.
Here's a link to their website: http://yangshuocookingschool.com/