A Foodie’s Guide to ZHUHAI
By: Tom Litchfield
With over eight distinct culinary traditions, it’s no secret that China boasts some of the best food in the world. From hearty stew and bread based food in the North, to spicy South-East Asian type creations in the South and everything in between, I’d bet my bottom dollar that even the fussiest of eaters can’t help but find a dish they love. One of my favourite things about discovering a new city is sourcing all the good eats around town; from the well known, to stumbled across gems, finding delicious restaurants is a wonderful way of grounding yourself in a new and unfamiliar place. Here are a few of my favourites, found over the last few years through a mixture of wandering and good recommendation.
Of course, being on the coast, Zhuhai has an abundance of fresh and delicious seafood and no food guide to the city would be complete without a nod to some of the excellent restaurants to be found. It’s hard to go wrong by keeping your eyes peeled for open air containers and fish tanks, usually found on the street, or within entrances to restaurants. Point to the live food you want, before sitting inside to await your feast. Dishes will usually be prepared in the Cantonese style, famous for it’s simplicity and accentuation of the natural flavours found in the chosen food to be cooked.
Nanping and Wanzai Seafood Streets
Nanping and Wanzai, within a short drive of each other, both have large open air markets boasting a huge selection of seafood. Most of it is live, guaranteeing freshness. Upon arriving you’ll be met with a long line of stalls with the vendors shouting for your custom. Restaurants face the market and the idea is to buy your dinner from the stalls before choosing a restaurant, which will cook it up for you to specification. Colorful, loud and with an abundant selection of seafood, it makes for a great meal out. The markets, after haggling, are fairly reasonably priced but make sure you double check with the restaurants how much they will charge for preparing the food; both, but especially Wanzai, are popular with tourists and it’s not uncommon for some of the restaurants to take advantage of new comers to the city.
1st Address: Nanping Seafood St
Pinyin: Nánpíng hǎi xiān jiē
2nd Address: Wanzai Seafood Street
Pinyin: Wàn zǎi hǎi xiān jiē
This is an excellent food hack for those wishing to avoid the unscrupulous nature of some of the restaurants in the seafood streets. A short walk from Wanzai Seafood Street, will take you to Wanzai Market. More for locals than tourists, the market sells all sorts of fresh produce, as well as a decent selection of seafood at a competitive price. After purchasing your dinner, if you walk out of the section selling seafood, and look to your right, you will see two no-name, outside-style, restaurants. Side by side, the one on the left is the one you need to aim for. Set on the side of the road, under a big tree and with some excellent chefs, the restaurant is fantastically cheap and provides dishes that are hard to rival. As well as expertly cooking your food picked from the market, they offer some excellent in-house dishes. The twice cooked pork (huí guō ròu), beef and spring onions (tiěbǎn niúròu) and deep fried squid (zhà yóuyú) are particularly worth checking out.
Address: Wanzai Shi Chang
Xing Heng Le (The Salmon Restaurant)
Salmon is the main reason to visit here and it’s best to come here with a group of people – the more diners, the more salmon you can buy and a larger variety of dishes will appear at your table. Get your table, specify how much salmon you’d like to buy by the jin (500g) and then wait for a range of dishes to arrive, with salmon, of course, being the central ingredient. The centre piece of the table will be a large plate of fresh salmon sashimi, but others include deep fried salmon, sweet and sour salmon, salmon fried rice, salmon with black bean and salmon, salmon, salmon… you get the picture. An excellent dinner and it’s interesting and exciting to see all the salmon themed creations arrive at your table.
Address: 21 Cui Hua Road, Xiangzhou, Zhuhai
Gui Shan Fishing Port
A Cantonese favorite among locals. Fresh live seafood line the exterior for your choosing. Always busy at night and full of loud chatter. Fun to pair with Baiju and the dishes are all delectable!
Xiangzhou Address: Hao Jing Garden, Biwan Road, Xiangzhou
Jida Address: Qing Lan Villa, Jida
Although not famed for housing a nation who shy away from meat, there is an increasing number of people, in China, turning to vegetarianism. Whether due to reasons of ethics, faith or to escape the famous food scandals around the country, the population of vegetarians is growing. Correspondingly, there are an increasing number of restaurants popping up to cater to them.
Sukoo is a vegan buffet, run in the aim of generating funds for a Buddhist temple. Offering a range of options designed to mimic famous Chinese dishes, replacing meat and fish with cleverly manipulated tofu, the food is surprisingly tasty. At around 30RMB a head for all you can eat, it makes for excellent value.
Address: 181 Huaping Road, Xiawan, Gongbei
Set in an old traditional Chinese building, Suhe makes for an extremely beautiful, interesting and delicious eating experience. Providing exceptionally well presented dishes, Suhe can be considered to be a gourmet restaurant; each dish is clearly created with much thought and passion. Like Sukoo they use vegetarian ingredients to mimic dishes which are traditionally meat or seafood based, unlike Sukoo it is more Michelin star than all you can eat buffet. The excellent food provides a unique and interesting eating experience, but does come with a corresponding price tag. A perfect place for a date or special occasion.
Address: 28 Beishan Yard (If you’re walking out of the small road next to the theatre, walk in the direction of Huafa Mall and enter the buildings to your left)
There are a number of restaurants around town serving up Beijing cuisine. Unlike southern styles of cooking, Beijing reflects the north, with hearty dishes and a focus on wheat rather than rice. The most famous Beijing export is, of course, Peking Duck. Below you can find a few of the best restaurants in town serving up those delicious duck pancakes.
A cheap, no thrills restaurant providing another example of how unassuming restaurants often provide some of the best food in China. Some locals swear by this as the best Beijing Kao Ya in town and it’s hard to argue with them upon sampling their duck. Their duck can be up to half as cheap as some of the restaurants in the city, but it is certainly no less tasty.
Address: 1312 Jiuzhou Da Dao (Opposite Yun Hai Hotel)
Bai Nian Ya Dian
Reasonably priced duck which arrives at your table whole, to be carved by the chef. The restaurant provides an interesting array of condiments to accompany your pancakes and, as you can also see through to the wood fired oven cooking the ducks, makes for an excellent, well priced, introduction into what Beijing Kao Ya is all about.
Address: 333 Shang Pu, Guo Hua Hua Yuan, Qiao Guang Lu, Xiawan, Gongbei
Shanghai Soup Dumplings
Known as Xiao Long Bao, these juicy steamed buns are addictive and oh so good! A must on your Chinese cuisine quest. Try the giant ones you sip the broth with a straw, careful it’s very heat hot though.
Soup dumpling heaven. Be sure to ask for the English menu. They offer a combo platter of pork, prawn and crab soup dumplings if you can’t decide. There are other flavors too, and vegetarian options.
Address: 106-107, Building 14, Mid Town, Jiuzhou West, Zhuhai (opposite A-Club Midtown)
A Cantonese creation, dim sum is now a famous, world wide Chinese export. You can think of it as a Chinese style tapas and Cantonese people treat it very similarly to how the British would treat a Sunday Dinner back home. Meaning ‘morning tea’, most know this style in Mandarin as “Yum Cha” and in Cantonese the popular “Dim Sum”. Families and friends will sit in a restaurant for hours during a weekend morning, chatting, drinking tea and slowly making their way through the many dishes and bamboo steamers before them. Dim Sum houses are extremely popular on the weekends, so be prepared to have a wait for your table.
If you’re seeking an authentic Cantonese eating experience, look no further. YiJian has some of the best Dim Sum in Zhuhai. The extensive and cheap Dim Sum menu is only available for ‘morning tea’ from 0800-1430 and ‘evening tea’ from 2130-0230. Between 1730-2100 they serve normal Cantonese fare with a full picture menu. The Dim Sum menu is only in Chinese characters however, so be sure to bring translations for the dishes you’d like to try.
Address: 3rd Floor Zheng Bang Guan Chang, 68 Beiling Ling Nan Lu, Gongbei (Next to Wal-mart, take the broken escalator or the lift to reach the restaurant).
Si Ji Jia Jing
For an upmarket dim sum experience, and a menu translated to English, go to Si Ji Jia Jing. Set in a plush, well decorated, banquet hall, Si Ji Jia Jing offers excellent morning tea from the morning until around 2 in the afternoon. In the evening, the restaurant boasts an equally impressive Cantonese menu. Found within in Huafa Mall, you need to take the elevator behind Illy Coffee to reach the restaurant.
Address: Huafa ShangDu (Mall), Nanping
四季佳景酒家，南屏华发商都C 馆4楼、5 楼
Jin Yue Xuan
Set on Lovers Road with views of the sea, Jin Yue Xuan provides excellent dim sum in nice environs. Dim Sum is served until around 2p.m. and, like other restaurants, in the evening you will find a range of Cantonese food.
Address: 265 Lovers Road, Ri Hua Business Square, Gongbei
Longxi Seafood Restaurant
Across from 888 Jie in centralized Old Xiangzhou. One of the best kept secrets from locals. Very busy at lunch, but worth the wait.
Address: C building, 48 Yinhua Road, Xiangzhou
Full English menu, but more of a Western fusion type of dim sum. Next to Azur and Creation.
Address: Jiuzhou Avenue West No.2035 Midtown/Fu Hua Li Building 14 No.1-12-15 Xiangzhou, Zhuhai
Near Holiday Inn/Duty Free. Very good, loud and busy during peak hours. Stay tuned for translated menu.
Address: Yuanlin Road No.69(close to Agricultural Bank of China )Ji Da Xiangzhou Zhuhai
North Western Food/Inner Mongolian/Muslim
Want to try out the Chinese version of a burger? Eat a kebab like meat stick? Or some fresh hand pulled noodles that taste like fresh spaghetti straight out of Italy? Look no further than the many small restaurants around town, distinguishable by Islamic writing above the door and identical pictures of the food on offer, plastered over the walls. At around $2 for a filling meal they are excellent value and you can even get a dish that is remarkably similar to Spaghetti Bolognese. As well as the many hole in the wall style restaurants, there are also a couple of bigger North Western Specialty restaurants around town. Many of these small restaurants have picture menus posted right on the wall. Large portions at a cheap price.
This is a famous chain found throughout China and the name literally translates to ‘North West’. Delicious noodles, lamb, beef and stews to be had here. Their lamb ‘ròu jiā mó’, or Chinese style burger, is excellent. Can be found on the third floor of the Huafa Mall. When you see noodles hanging from the ceiling, you’ve made it.
Address: 3rd Floor Huafa Shang Du
Another well known chain serving excellent Xinjiang style food. It has an extensive picture menu and it’s hard to go wrong whilst choosing your food. Specialty restaurants can often play on the ethnicity responsible for the food and XinYue is no exception; expect Xinjiang style décor and waiting staff wearing tradition costumes to accompany your meal.
There are two locations in Zhuhai, one in Gongbei and one in Xin Xiangzhou.
Gongbei Address: 1013 Jiuzhou Da Dao Xi Lu, Gongbei
Xin Xiangzhou Address: 2nd Floor Xinjiang Da Sha, 827 Renmin Xi Lu, Xin Xiangzhou
With abundant use of chili and Sichuan pepper, this style of cooking is most famous for its heat. The chili and Sichuan pepper infuse in the dishes to create a spicy numbing heat called ma la. If done correctly, the combination of spices in Sichuanese cooking produce incredibly tasty dishes.
Lao Chuan Fang
A popular restaurant with a few locations around town, the main reason to come here is for the ribs. These are extremely popular among expats around town in the know. With meat falling off the bone and roast potatoes to be found underneath, it’s hard not to see why.
Gongbei Address: 251 Chang Ping Lu, Xiawan, Gongbei
Xiangzhou Address: 1167 Fenghuang Nan Lu, Xiangzhou
Street side BBQ’s can be found all over the city and usually start appearing around dusk time, often not finishing until the early hours. They make for a fun and tasty meal or for a cracking, vibrant late night hang out. They will range from single set ups to large areas with tens of vendors serving a whole range of dishes. One of the biggest and most entertaining can be found in Xiawan, Gongbei. Just ask the taxi driver to take you to Xiawan Shao Kao. As well as the street side BBQ’s, you can also find a few restaurants around town who offer up whole roast chickens or lamb legs, part cooked by the kitchen, before you finish BBQing it at your table.
Mongolian Lamb BBQ
Settled in Nanping Square, at the furthest side away from the Huafa Mall, you can find this small restaurant by looking for the people sitting outside, roasting legs of lamb on the BBQ’s in the middle of their tables.
Address: 65 Pinglan Lu, Nanping
Hakka Folk Dishes
Concentrating on the texture of the food is the main focus. The meats are braised, stewed or roasted. It is very simple, yet full of flavor. Seafood and vegetables are very fresh. Tofu dishes are an absolute try!
Hakka Hundred Mills
Gongbei Address: 2nd floor, Zhen Pin Shop, 19 Lianhua Road, Gongbei