Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Photo Series Yangshuo Food
The food in Guilin/Yangshuo is pretty well known - Li River carp, beer-battered everything (including the carp), stewed duck, oil tea (you cha, I believe), mei fen (rice noodles), and pickled vegetables and tofu (which I mentioned earlier), among others. We didn't get to try everything (3 days, even with biking, is only so much time), but what we had was incredible.
The mei fen was our first fave - we ate it for breakfast and lunch day 1 in Guilin. The serve you the noodles in a bowl and anything else you might want on top - tofu skin, Chinese sausage, soy sauce egg (that's my personal combo) - then have buckets of chili peppers and pickled peppers (and sometimes pickled turnip) that you can spoon from to make it spicy/tasty. Then you pour on broth either from a hot water cooler or a steaming vat of soup - watch out, this makes the peppers come alive. This was so delicious that even after finding 2 hairs from the server guy in my bowl I kept eating.
The Li river carp was rather disappointing. Apparently one of the more authentic places to eat it is in the Yangshuo food market (don't know if that's the official name), which is in this huge building open to the town's main street (the one Yangshuo Park is on). You walk past the tables of fruit, vegetables, chickens, plucked chickens, split-open chickens, slabs of cow/pig, rabbits and skinned rabbits to get to the row of tiny restaurants along the back wall of the eastern building (this enormous market spans 2 buildings), all of which cater to Chinese tourists. They cook all the food on these little tables with burners right outside the restau, it's crazy that they can make so much food off there. So anyway, at least at the place we went to, the carp was deliciously cooked in thick brown sauce and fresh chilis, but the skin was tough like armor. That river must be a hard place to live in. What was delicious was the stuffed eggplant (stuffed with pork!) and the marinated potato shreds (if you're a veg, this is one of the few items offered in Yangshuo that does not involve at least ground bits of meat).
Yangshuo is also known for their differently-shaped grapefruit - it has a hump on top. Not sure if we got ripped off, but we paid 5 RMB for ours, and not sure if it wasn't the season, but they were... not what we expected. They were dry on the inside, so the fruit was slightly-sweet and crunchy instead of dripping and sweet/sour. Also, ask for them to cut it open for you, because that skin in THICK. It's like food in Yangshuo needs extra armor to ward off the greedy tourists.
During our night stroll of Yangshuo's Western Street (the main tourist drag, that's where the bars and shops are) Gloria found this man in a booth making these delicious sugar thread candies. He was pulling the sugar into incredibly thin strands which are then wrapped around a nutty center and shaped into what look like mini-wheats. Delicious. We should have bought additional boxes to go.