Your sense of smell might be heightened during this time of the year, from stews to edible textures that are ‘unconventional’ to foreigners, but very popular among Cantonese people. With the winter solstice just a few days away (December 21, 2013), many are gearing up for this family event, and some elders might even consider this night more important than the Chinese New Year itself.
Cantonese food is part of the eight Chinese culinary cuisines and is best known for steaming and stir-frying as the most favored methods of cooking. Cantonese chefs – amateurs and professionals – believe such techniques exude an aroma from the wok, and that sprinkling seasonings at a minimum are more beneficial to your palette to savor all the tastes the cuisine has to offer. Here is a look at the some key winter food in Guangzhou that you can dive into over the coming months.
Winter Solstice, also known as Dongzhi Festival, is a coming together of family and friends. It is traditional for the families to stay at home and to make home-cooked meals. Chen describes it as a heart-warming event, and a good opportunity for young women to cook soups, as this is considered a good attribute for women in Canton.
At Guangzhou native Jeffrey Yao’s home his mother makes Tāngyuán or “round dumplings in soup.” This dish is made of glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water and shaped to form balls. The ingredients are sweeter compared to northern China, where minced meat and vegetables are used. The modern version of this dish uses food coloring and these sweet balls symbolizes family union.
Chinese cuisines are considered food therapy wherein specific food that you ingest could cure ailments. Many believe in the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’ philosophies. The former are food that decrease the body’ heat while the latter leads to the increase of body heat. During this time of the year, strong cold winds from the north can make food lovers think more about soothing dishes and this is where hot pot tends to be more popular among locals and foreigners alike.
While hot pot varies in regions, the Cantonese hot pot includes leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and ‘unconventional’ meats such as chicken feet, duck’s tongue and heart, snakes, snails, and in some cases, dog or cat meat. Also referred as ‘dog pot’, local Cantonese Brand Chen says that it’s very popular among locals since eating this type of meat prolongs the body’s heat in the stomach, making it an essential winter food in Guangzhou. Though if you are looking to lower your body ‘heat’ all you need to do is pop a raw egg in with the condiments (e.g. sesame oil, small pieces of shallots, and soy sauce etc.) in the hopes of reducing a sore throat after a hot pot meal.
If you are looking for hot pot in Guangzhou, why not try:
Daguan Zhengguo (大官正锅) View In Map
Where: F/1, 108-109 Mingshuo Daxia, 2 Huachenglu, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District, Guangzhou
Opening hours: 11:00 – 03:00
Tel: 020 3730 8925
Getting there: Take Subway Line 5 to Wuyangcun (五羊邨站)Station
Also considered to be food therapy is congee, is a rice-based porridge. Cantonese congee uses white rice and is boiled many times with added water until the rice becomes a thick white porridge and can be enjoyed with a variety of ingredients.
To try some congee head to:
Liuhua Congee House (流花粥城)View In Map
Where: Mengyuan Minghongting, Liuhua Park, Renmin Beilu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Opening hours: 24 hrs
Tel: 020 8668 0108
Getting there: Take Subway Line 2 to Yuexiu (越秀公园) station
Guangzhou family gathering.
Hungry at midnight? No problem
Cantonese cuisine provides a wide array of offerings including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, which all have very different set menus. But what is even more astounding in Guangzhou, for instance, are the Xiaoye (宵夜)or midnight snacks. Workers, who finish their shifts late at night, or partygoers can end up eating full-course meals at this time of the night.
While the freshness of ingredients is held in high regard in Cantonese cuisine, preserved items are also added to enhance the flavors of the dish. The Hakka cuisine was once the prime influencer in Cantonese cuisine since it used to be the dominant ethnic group that once occupied Hong Kong and other southern territories. Some preserved items are used to intensify the flavors while others simply preserve shelf life. Such techniques can be seen with the roasted poultry sold on the streets. But a regional difference is that in the south, the locals tend to eat more roasted goose compared to the northern Chinese, who prefer to eat roasted duck instead.
In need of midnight munchies, these two following options are great choices.
Xiaoye Dining AreaView In Map
Head to this street and you won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer
Where: Baoye Road, Haizhu District, Guangzhou
Opening Hours: Around 00:00 of course
Getting there: Take Subway Line 8 to Shayuan Station.
Guang Ji Restaurant View In Map
This restaurant will work if you want the job of midnight snacking without actually having to wait around until midnight to eat.
Where: Yuexiu Nanlu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8386 0689
Getting there: Take Subway Line 1 to the Peasant Movement Institute (农讲所) stop, get off and head south on Yuexiu Zhonglu, it will turn into Yuexiu Nanlu
Bite-size fruits with a scoop of ice cream remains a popular dessert in winter, but so are jelly-like desserts such as milk-based dishes. Nanxin milk is a popular dessert that looks like yogurt, but is sweet and even tastier depending on the toppings (See below for the recommended place).
While the winter solstice is celebrated at home, there are still places where you can enjoy this seasonal period in the city, just head over to either of these restaurants and you won’t be disappointed.
Baohua Noodles (捞面)View In Map
As winter food in Guangzhou goes there is nothing quite like a big bowl of noodles. Baohua Noodles is famous, among locals and foreigners alike, for their delicious wonton noodles. It has been operating for over 20 years. Located in the Liwan district, a bowl of noodles costs about 14 RMB per person. Their mushroom wonton noodles are a must-try.
Where: 117 Baohua Road, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Phone: 020 8318 3022
Signature Food: Wonton Noodles
Getting there: Take Subway Line 1 to Chen Clan Academy Station.
Nanxin Milk Desserts ExpertView In Map
This two-storey restaurant is located on a renovated artery of Liwan district. You can try their famous ‘milk dish,’ which is milk that has been condensed like gelatin and sprinkled with an assortment of fruits. Try the double-skimmed milk dish that is quite refreshing to the senses, while spending time with your friends. It also offers famous wonton dishes of all sorts. Make sure you bring a Chinese-speaking friend though because the menu is in Chinese only.
Address: 47 Dishifu Road, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Phone: 020 8138 9904
Hours: 07:00 – 22:00
Signature Food: Milk Desserts
Getting there: Take subway line 1, Changshou Lou Station, Exit B.
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Keywords: Winter food in Guangzhou Food in Guangzhou Cantonese food Warm winter food
I lived in GZ from 2001 to 2006. A Chinese friend took me and several others to a great hot pot place that was in an old wooden barn-like structure. It was like no other hotpot! The tables were large and rustic, the hotpot used actual charcoal, which an attendant came by to regularly stoke, and the spices were set around various tables for people to help themselves. It seemed very "old China" to me, and I was wondering, does anyone know if it still exists? Don't know much more about it.
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