Gloriously tasty fare draws the foodie faithful

By Li You | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-06 08:42

Guangzhou, a city of Cantonese cuisine and dim sum, attracts vast crowds of tourists every year. Some of them come to Guangzhou time after time for only one reason - the gloriously tasty food.

If they follow locals into the teahouses, which are filled with people partaking in yum cha every morning, the visitors can't go wrong.

Yum cha, literally translated as "drink tea", is the hugely popular Cantonese tradition of brunch involving Chinese tea and dim sum.

Sipping tea and eating dim sum is the main theme of the teahouses. Among the many dim sums, hargow, which is Cantonese for shrimp dumplings, is the food that touches from tongue to heart.

The snow-white dumpling skin is translucent, revealing the pink of the shrimps inside. Its stuffing is usually a mix of fresh prawns, chopped bamboo shoots, pork fat and a little bit of green onion.

Without too much flavoring, the shrimps by themselves are palatable enough. But when the ravenous visitors bite the tender shrimps with the crispy vegetables, they know immediately why the dish is legendary.

The second must-try in the teahouses is called cheungfen, or steamed rice rolls. The foundation of the snack - rice, flour and water - is first laid down over a cheesecloth and then steamed, peeled off, rolled up and covered with soy sauce.

Customers can ask for different stuffings inside the rolls, usually beef, pork, egg, shrimp and vegetables.

During the first few seconds after it is served, the steam rising from the paper-thin skin brings out the fragrance of the mixed ingredients inside.

Looking at the countless dim sums on the menu of yum cha restaurants, visitors want to try as much as they can.

Siumai, or pork and mushroom dumplings; cha siu bao, or barbecue-pork-filled bun; and lo mai gai, or steamed sticky rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaves, are some other delicacies.

Yum cha restaurant brands include Tian Ran Ju, Hui Ru Lou, Dian Du De and Tao Tao Ju, popular hangouts among diners in recent years.

For the locals, the real pleasure is the languid tranquility of time spent having a bowl of tea and one or two dim sums in the eateries.

Some families in Guangzhou have the tradition of spending at least one full morning each weekend in the tea and snack restaurants, sharing their happiness and everyday stories.

In 1322, an Italian Catholic missionary, Odoric of Pordenone, set foot in Guangzhou and wrote about the city's delicacies in his account of his famous journey to China.

Subsequently, especially in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Guangzhou gained worldwide fame as "a paradise for gourmets".

Nowadays Guangzhou remains a bastion and even a kind of heaven for faithful foodies, ever-ready for their arrival.

(China Daily 12/06/2017 page12)

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