As highly requested, here’s my guide to China. Specifically highlighting my most recent trip to Guangzhou, HK, and Macau. I’ve been to other large cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, and Hangzhou to smaller villages.
My main focus will be on Guangzhou since I feel like the other cities are popular enough to navigate on your own.
In a traditional city like Guangzhou, you can expect almost everyone speaking only Mandarin with the rare occasion of Cantonese. English is deemed as prestigious. I’ve learned to avoid speaking any English to blend in with the locals and not be a target for robbery. I have a bad habit of walking off on my own to explore. English isn’t a requirement in the country and considered to be an extra curricular activity. If someone were to speak English, they’re either from a high status family or from another country, specifically, the United States.
It’s impossible for me to list all the foods I’ve tried with the foreign restaurant names. Some of them don’t even have names! Also doesn’t help how they don’t have any access to Google aka no Google Maps. I can, however, say what are some of the must try items when you’re there.
Tip: download a VPN before you land in China and make sure it’s running beforehand if you want access to Google or any social medias.
- White Cut Chicken: a Cantonese secrecy. If you liked the white cut chicken in Edmonton, you HAVE to try the ones in Guangzhou. The chicken is made fresh — yes, fresh chicken. It’s killed and cooked right before your eyes inside the restaurant.
- Dimsum: oh my goodness, I’ve been spoiled with some of the best dimsums in the world. I stayed in my cousin’s apartment 3 years ago while she was studying aboard and it had some of the best restaurants only footsteps away. I was eating dimsum every single day that I was there and sometimes even twice a day. It had the nicest waterfront view with many athletic people jogging around the area. Lively yet quiet.
- Roasted suckling pig: this is probably the most that I’ve ate pork in China. I didn’t realize it was also a big “must-eat” dish until my uncle kept ordering it at restaurants for us to try. As great as it is, you can only eat this once in a while!
- Seafood: mantis shrimp, scallops, abalone, prawns, sea bass, snails. You name it, they have it. Instead of eating sashimi like BC, Guangzhou is big on cooked seafood — mainly for sanitary reasons. Visitors can go to a local restaurant and hand pick their own catch before it’s cooked.
- BBQ Pork in Honey: it was my first time having this last time and I didn’t want it to end. Salivating as I’m writing this. The pork is cut into long thin strips, preserved for 45 minutes, then roasted in the in the oven. Syrup is gradually glazed, back into the oven, and repeat until the meat is slightly salty with sweet honey flavour on the surface.
- Eight Bao Chinese Watermelon Soup: light on the stomach and an extremely delicious appetizer. Shark fin soup is also an exquisite in Asia despite all the discriminatory that comes along with it. Each serving costs a minimum of $100 CAD per person. You can find this in a few high end restaurants. I had it again recently because well, when your uncle orders it for the table, you’re in no place to decline if you want to make it back to home in once piece.
- BUBBLE TEA: ’nuff said. Yi Dian Dian, HeyTea, Dakasi (best bang-for-your- buck), & The Alley. It can be a little difficult going through the menu if you can’t read any Chinese so be prepared for that.
- Street Food: Shangxia Jiu Pedestrian Street, Xihua Road, and Renmin Road. If you’re tight on time, skip the two roads and just hit up the Pedestrian Street.
I still don’t understand what the fascination about HK is. I’d choose Guangzhou over HK any day, or maybe I’m a little biased. Hong Kongers have an utter hostility toward mainlanders. First day in Hong Kong, we had two different workers that told us to go back to where we came from with the assumption that we’re from mainland China. Even the police in HK didn’t bother to help us when we asked for directions. You’re simply not respected unless you speak to them in English.
Tip #2: try your best to exchange your currency into HK dollars instead of RMB. I believe this is the reason for their assumption that you’re from mainland.
- Dimsum: I didn’t get a chance to eat dimsum again cause our time was mainly allocated to Disney Land. If you have the chance, try the dimsum. Especially the Lo Mai Gai (glutinous rice).
- Roast Goose: marinated with a mix of spices and roasted with charcoal until it’s incredibly crisp and succulent.
- Roast Pork & BBQ Pork: I knew this was one of the most popular dishes in HK when all the TVB police dramas would have them eating BBQ pork with rice on the show. Definitely a solid choice for a cheap meal.
- Claypot Rice: exactly like the name, rice is cooked in a claypot and served with a variety of ingredients. The best part about this is the crispy rice crust at the end of the pot.
- Brisket Noodles & Wonton Noodles
- Desserts: tofu pudding, egg waffles, egg tarts, black sesame pudding, etc.
Tip for #3: if you’re stuck finding a place to eat, find anywhere with a long lineup or a big crowd and go there.
Macau: egg tarts. Leave.
I’m not sure if this would help you at all given there’s no exact location of the restaurants. Half the places I’ve gone to didn’t even have a store name and only a little stall with food. A lot of places will offer the same foods as well. Try as much as you can. Bring stomach digestives if needed. Fair warning that the food is quite unsanitary than what we’re accustomed to. I’ve had a few stomachaches but I’m still alive. Gotta build that immune system somehow!
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