The food here is both various and abundant. Wherever you are you can be sure there is somewhere to eat nearby. Whether it be from a dusty street food vendor selling dumplings and pastries, to full blown shiny restaurants complete with private rooms and revolving tables. There is something here for everybodys tastes. The range of cuisines I've found so far are; Chinese, Korean, Indian and Western. In fact some of the Western food is better than that found at home. I'm a big fan of the burgers at the Giggling Tree hotel just outside town by the Yulong river.
That's not to say that the food isn't without its minefields. I'm a fan of chilllies and never shy away from the challenge of chucking a few in my mouth but every now and again one jumps up and blows your head off. I've had that a couple of times and the effects were felt for a while. Secondly, watch out for the street food. I was recently offered what I can only describ as a twirly piece of cartilage wrapped around a kebab stick. Not wanting to be rude and being slightly curious I took a bit. After chewing
my way through what I can only describe as solid rubber my friend told me it was a pigs one eyed trouser snake. Apparently according to Chinese belief eating a pigs pizzle makes you aroused, acting like a kind of aphrodisiac...if Jamie Oliver did viagra. I can't say it did that but I did find it dreadfully hard to sleep that night. So whether it works or not...the jurys out on that one. Other interesting street food includes frog kebabs, stuffed snails and the slightly less appetising intestines. Of course the big one is dog. There's a few dog restaurants nearby which were pointed out to me. I've been told the meat is actually quite delicious. And I like a dog as much as the next man. Nevertheless, a dogs a pet in my eyes.
I eat the local food most meals. Occasionally we'll be at a place which serves Western food and I'll give into the temptations. It's hard to resist a beefburger when its staring down the menu at you. However, I figure part of learning about the culture and being part of a place is eating the local food. It's actually pretty good, and you know
the vegetables are all locally farmed and picked. You can't beat it really. We pay so much for fresh, organic produce in the West and here they grow it naturally!
So here are a few of the foods and restaurant experiences I've particularly enjoyed since being here.
1) Guilin Rice Noodles
This is a typical Yangshuo breakfast (see photo 1). Rice noodles cooked in a thin watery soup with green vegetables and a little pork all for 4 yuan (40p). You can get an egg added ontop for an extra 2 yuan. It's pretty good and tastes healthy. You can get different variations depending on how spicy you want it. The one in the photo is a spicy one. After they serve you it at the counter you can choose to put a range of pickles on it. The ones I've gone for are a green bean pickle which adds some more flavour. Guilin rice noodles are served almost everywhere at the local noodle shops. Kind of halfway between a restaurant and a cafe. Really they're a kind of Chinese fast food, ready in 2 minutes. If you watn something fast, quick, cheap and healthy this is a good option.
2) All you can eat buffet
Forgive me for putting an all you can eat buffet on my favourite foods list. However please hear me out on this one. This is a dining experience like I've never seen before. Cook your own food on a hot plate on the middle of your table (see photo 2). It's ingenius. The buffet is huge and holds everything from raw meats, fish, vegetables, steamed buns, cakes, fruit, sauces, powders...Not only that it's all you can drink too. In a second room you can find fridges stocked with beers and soft drinks. And it's popular too. The main room is huge and buzzing. This would be a good place to come with a big group of friends before a night out. The way you cook your food, you can't help but be sociable.
3) Beer fish
A bit like going to Devon and not having a cream tea, or Corwall and not having a pasty. Going to Yangshuo and not having beer fish would be a cardinal sin (see photo 3). Fortunately you won't be short of opportunities. As you get close to West Street the streets are peppered / riddled (depending on your view) with beer fish restaurants. If food is the name, beer fish is the game. Even though the number of beer fish establishments kind of waters down its uniqueness I actually quite like it. Its essentially a big curried fish served in a soup with vegetables, like tomatoes and potatoes. The flavours are pretty intense and the fish is pretty big so you won't go home hungry.
I hope this has been interesting if not informative. Of course there are lots more different kinds of foods you can try here. I'll keep you updated. More culinary adventures to come soon.
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