Exploring Zhuhai: Seafood Street
Exploring Zhuhai – NIHAO, ZHUHAI’s guide to Seafood Street
By: Tom Litchfield
Making the Most Out of Seafood Street
Visiting Wanzai Seafood Street has to be one of our favourite ways to spend an evening in Zhuhai. The excitement of the market before taking live seafood to a restaurant to be cooked, combines many of the things we love about China and always provides a great night out. To top it all off, it can actually be very affordable. The first time you visit, however, can be confusing – you are met with a long line of vendors on one side, with the restaurants opposing and everyone is shouting and screaming for your patronage. It can be hard to know how much to pay, who to buy from and where to take the food to be cooked. Read on to learn how to avoid the Seafood Street traps and get the most out of the experience.
Wanzai Seafood Street (Wàn zǎi hǎi xiān jiē) – 湾仔海鲜街
What makes Seafood Street so fun is the liveliness of the market. The vendors stretch for about 100m (328ft) selling everything from regular shellfish and fish to more exotic species such as geoduck (clam resembling a well-endowed phallus), giant grouper, stone fish, parrot fish, ray, and the occasional shark. The ethics behind some of the species on offer can be dubious but it is important and interesting to see what’s being sold – anything you disagree with can always be boycotted and documented.
Shark (shāyú) – 鲨鱼
Stone Fish (shítou yú) – 石头鱼
Crab (pángxiè) – 螃蟹, Sea Urchin (hǎidǎn) – 海胆, Octopus (zhāngyú) – 章鱼, Sea Worms (Hǎi chóng) – 海虫
The exotic species tend to make up the minority of what is on offer. In general, you will be faced with a different vendor every couple of meters and they are all pretty much selling the exact same thing. This works to your advantage! You’ll notice in the last picture that every basket has a price attached. Apart from a few select items, like scallops which are done by the piece, this is the price per Jīn (斤 – 500g or 1.1 lbs). You’ll may also notice that the prices seem a little steep. This is because everything can be bartered over – fierce competition, plus a healthy dose of tourists, ensure that the vendors will take every opportunity possible to make as much money as they can. The best strategy is to walk up the entire street, stopping and asking the price of what you would like every now and then. As soon as you ask how much something is, the market vendors will enter into negotiation with you and quickly start to drop their prices, especially when you walk away to check out another stall. Once you are happy with the prices and the quality of the vendor’s produce, start buying!
Going to the Restaurant
You can’t go wrong by choosing one of the restaurants opposing the market. A good rule of thumb is to pick one that looks busy, go in, hand over your food and await your meal. However, we strongly recommend you make the effort to take a 5-10 minute walk away from Seafood Street, to Wanzai market. By the market you’ll find a few outside style restaurants, the one on the left hand side being our go to place. The chefs from this restaurant always cook the food to perfection, it costs up to half the price and you sit outside to enjoy good Chinese style alfresco dining. At the end of Seafood Street, exit and make your way around the outside of the park, almost following a ‘u’ shape. Take the first available left at the end of the park and turn left again at the junction. You will shortly see Wanzai Market on your right. Standing in the entrance to the market, facing out, the restaurants will be visible, again to the right.
Wanzai Market (Wānzaǐ shì chǎng)- 湾仔市场. It’s worth noting that the market also has a seafood section. Though there is less choice it is usually half the price of the food found at Seafood Street.
View from the market, looking to the restaurants.
The restaurant you want to aim for: Róng xìng shí diàn 荣兴食店.
The staff here are very accommodating but mostly speak Cantonese. Fortunately, they are very used to foreigners now, so have no worries about simply handing over the food to be cooked – everything they’ve bought back from the kitchen has always been excellent. Or, use the pictures below to help you order.
Oysters with Spring Onion (cōng yóu dà shēng háo) – 葱油大生蚝
Fried Mantis Shrimp (guōchǎo làiniàohá) – 锅炒濑尿虾
Deep Fried Squid (zhà yóuyú) – 炸鱿鱼
Sautéed Clams with Black Bean (chǐzhī chǎo dà xiǎn) – 豉汁炒大蚬
Prawn with Spring Onion (qingjiāojiāngcōng há) – 青椒姜葱虾
Steamed Scallops (Zhēng shànbèi) – 蒸扇贝
Steamed Prawn (zhēngxiā) – 蒸虾
Steamed Crab (zhēngxiè) – 蒸蟹
Twice Cooked Pork (huíguō ròu) – 回锅肉
Sweet and Sour Salmon (suāntián sān wényú) – 酸甜三文鱼.