Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
sheetz

Most Expensive Chinese Dinners

Recommended Posts

I've been reading the discussion regarding Chinese cuisine with Ruth Reichl and it was mentioned in HK it's possible to have a feast of the rarest delicacies for up to $1000 a person . What's the most expensive Chinese meals you've ever eaten? I know of a few Chinese restaurants in Southern California which gave banquet menus for over $1000 a table, but I've never had the pleasure of partaking in one.


Edited by sheetz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In london a restaurant called Hakkasan, offers a soup that goes for 120+ pounds a person you must call in advance to order. Another chinese restuarant by the same owner sells a chinese tea that is very old (over 200 years) for a small fortune.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To give you some idea what's included in a Chinese banquet, here are a couple of links to help you.

MOE in LA: Chinese Dinner:

When I made arrangements for this member-organized event (MOE), I selected the menu instead of choosing one of the restaurant's pre-determined banquet menus. The dinner menu I created was ... uhh ... less cost-prohibitive. Of all the items I selected, the winter melon soup was the most expensive at $48 (per table, not per individual), and, by concensus, the best part of the dinner. With tax, tip and leftovers, the dinner cost about $35 per person.

Menu from Empress Pavilion:

Empress Pavilion is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in LA's downtown Chinatown. Their dining area is huge. It can accommodate at least 600 people. An expensive Chinese banquet tends to include more seafood dishes, like shark's fin soup, abalone, sea cucumber, steamed whole fish, etc. Mind you, there are other non-seafood selections like Peking duck and whole suckling pig.

I usually attend these Chinese banquets during special occasions, like Chinese New Year, Chinese weddings, family reunions, etc. Traditionally, it's the Chinese patriarchs that take care of the cost of the banquet. Paying for dinners Chinese-style is another topic ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back when I was about seventeen or eighteen, we still owned a restaurant in Philly's Chinatown.

One of the owners who was also a chef had a birthday party.

By this point, I thought I knew a decent bit about Chinese food, having eaten in Hong Kong a few times and been to tons of Chinese banquets and eaten in Philly Chinatown and at home many times.

I was wrong. I had so much more to learn. I was blown away by the food. It was somewhere around $100 a person if we had to pay for it. That's probably undercutting it though, but it's a nice round number.

Unfortunately, I don't remember very much about the dishes.

The first dish was a five pound lobster, cracked open and put back together, stuffed with its meat and honeydew melon in a sweet mayonnaise.

That's the only dish I remember with any detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over in HK, people can get a little "nuts" over food. My dad still talks about a what a bargain it was to get a particular fish (less than 2lbs) for $100US. He said it would have costed more at another restaurant. There are some very expensive ingredients in Chinese cooking, so it's not hard to believe that a meal can run above $1000 per person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree.  Chinese love showing off.

Certainly some do. But Chinese people are also great believers in the restorative qualities of certain expensive foods like shark's fin, bird's nest, ginseng, etc. and that drives up the prices for these items, as well.


Edited by sheetz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well...HK$1000 = US$128 or so. Still expensive, still glamorous no?

We went hard for my mum's recent 60th birthday at the Flower Drum here in Melbourne, arguably among many critics one of the finest Cantonese restaurants outside China/HK. AUD$1288, an auspicious number. 7 diners. Click here for a review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been reading the discussion regarding Chinese cuisine with Ruth Reichl and it was mentioned in HK it's possible to have a feast of the rarest delicacies for up to $1000 a person . 

sheetz: is this $1000 a person Hong Kong Dollar, or US Dollar? HK$1000 does not seem too far out. At my first glance, I thought this was US$1000 per person (which would be something).

My cousin treated us in our 8th Moon 15th day dinner at Zen Peninsula (Millbrae, CA). The dinner was priced at something like $380. Then he added a few things here and there. I projected it was US$500+ for 10 people. That set banquet only had one "Abalone with black mushrooms" and "Shark Fin with shredded chicken soup".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been reading the discussion regarding sheetz:  is this $1000 a person Hong Kong Dollar, or US Dollar?  HK$1000 does not seem too far out.  At my first glance, I thought this was US$1000 per person (which would be something).

From the context of the discussion, I assumed it was US Dollars. Maybe Irwin can clarify. I wouldn't be surprised if it were US Dollars, though, since a single serving of the finest shark's fin soup alone would probably cost $1000HK.


Edited by sheetz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the discussion but I would assume that it's $1000 USD. $1000 HK per person is not really consider a high price and it certainly won't be enough to get you the "rarest delicacies"....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been reading the discussion regarding sheetz:  is this $1000 a person Hong Kong Dollar, or US Dollar?  HK$1000 does not seem too far out.  At my first glance, I thought this was US$1000 per person (which would be something).

From the context of the discussion, I assumed it was US Dollars. Maybe Irwin can clarify. I wouldn't be surprised if it were US Dollars, though, since a single serving of the finest shark's fin soup alone would probably cost $1000HK.

In previous posts I have mentioned that during the 1970's there were "Shark Fin Soups' that could cost in excess of (HK$) $1500.00 per table. Remember that each so called piece of "Superior Shark Fin" is priced individually. The expensive pieces depend on the clarity of the cartilage, how it can be sliced for serving, size and species of Shark.

Often when you are arranging for a Sharks Fin Soup for a special party the Restaurant will call a pre-eminent supplier who will bring several pieces for consideration with the Host, Restaurant Manager, and special Chef assigned for it's preparation.

These types of Shark's Fin require several days of careful preparation. Allowing for inflation, scarcity of Sharks and exorbitant rents in Hong Kong and competition from all the then non-existent markets in China that same bowl of Shark's Fin Soup can cost as much as (US$) 1.500.00 to $2,000.00 in 2005 if it's available.

If you think thats expensive today I visited a Seattle dealer in top quality "American Wild Ginseng" who showed me some individual pieces that were ordered that he was packing to send to Hong Kong by Courier that he was exporting that wholesale from (US$) 11,000.00 to $46,000.00 each piece.

They will eventually most likely be made into a Herbal Soup. Imagine the cost of a Bowl of Special Ginseng Soup ?

The regular Sharks Fin or Ginseng Soups are always expensive, but generally higher then any standard soups served. My favorite Sharks Fin choice of soup is called, Sharks Fin with Crab Fat (Crab Roe) and doesn't require the high quality Sharks Fin but still cost in the 1970's about (HK$) 150.00/200.00 per bowl and now costs about (US$) 125/175 per bowl. Remember this serving size will serve a table of 10/12 diners.

It's important to always take into consideration that the 2 highest per square foot rentals in the World are Hong Kong and the Ginza in Tokyo, Japan that need to be taken into account as it reflects pricing. In Hong Kong there are little or no locations with reasonable rents anywhere.

Fish that are regularly served are often shipped Live from all over the World, ordered specifically for these Dinners. Almost anywhere else Seafood is refrigerated , packed in Ice or Seaweed is acceptable but not if it's being served for these type of dinners., this live delivery can increase costs 300/400 % for air freight.

I was a guest at a "Imperial Banquet" that lasted several days over 35 years ago that cost well in excess of US$ 1,500.00 per person just for the food. Special Teas, Beverages, Wines, Rental of Party Room, etc and Service Charges were all additional.

Irwin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's important to always take into consideration that the 2 highest per square foot rentals in the World are Hong Kong and the Ginza in Tokyo, Japan that need to be taken into account as it reflects pricing. In Hong Kong there are little or no locations with reasonable rents anywhere.

\

I wonder how much higher rent adds to the restaurant tab. For sure, many of the best Chinese restaurants in the US tend to be located in lower rent districts compared to the top restaurants serving Western cuisine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For people who are curious about what HK$1000(about $130) will get you in some higher end restaurant in Honk Kong (although not the most expensive):

The famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant (the one that in the shape of a boat):

http://www.jumbo.com.hk/eng/menu.php

Under Dragon Court Menu

Jumbo Special Set Menu in HK$980.00 per person (Minimum 2 persons)

Braised Superior Shark's Fin w/ Brown Sauce

Braised Abalone

Sauteed Scallop & Prawn Ball w/ Vegetable in Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Fresh Red Spotted Garoupa

Scalded Seasonal Vegetable w/ Bamboo Fungus & Chinese Ham in Stock

Deep Fried Crispy Chicken

Braised E-Fu Noodle w/ Diced Seafood

Double Boiled Harsma w/ Almond & Coconut Cream

Chinese Pastries

Fresh Fruit Platter

Under their Shark Fin menu in HK dollars per person:

"Jumbo" Supreme Shark's Fin $1,000.00

Braised Superior Shark's Fin Soup $630.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Crab's Cream $420.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Crab Meat $285.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Shredded Chicken $240.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Albumen & Bird's Nest $280.00

Double Boiled Shark's Fin w/ Cabbage, Bamboo Fungus & Chinese Ham $360.00

OR a “private/underground” restaurant:

http://www.clubqing.com/english.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[..]

Under Dragon Court Menu

Jumbo Special Set Menu in HK$980.00 per person (Minimum 2 persons)

[...]

Deep Fried Crispy Chicken

[...]

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Crab's Cream $420.00

If I order this only for the 2 of us at Jumbo, I wonder how they are going go serve us Fried Crispy Chicken. :biggrin: Do we get chicken wings and thighs and another table of 2 get breasts and drum sticks? :laugh::laugh:

Also, I wonder what "Crab's Cream" is... or perhaps we don't want to know. :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also, I wonder what "Crab's Cream" is... or perhaps we don't want to know.  :raz:

I think it's "goh", maybe from "dai jap" crabs? What are those crabs called in English, anyway?

Nobody's mentioned the "Buddha Jumps Wall" dish yet, it's also an expensive dish.

The best shark's fin I ever had was not at a restaurant, but prepared at our home by our family friends (they're both cooks) - the fins were as thick as bean sprouts! I have absolutely no idea how much it cost, but it must've cost a fortune!

Wintermelon soup can't be that hard or expensive to make, can it? My auntie makes it sometimes, usually for special occasions. Is it just time-consuming to make because it's more of a "gung" than a "tong"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For people who are curious about what HK$1000(about $130) will get you in some higher end restaurant in Honk Kong (although not the most expensive):

The famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant (the one that in the shape of a boat):

http://www.jumbo.com.hk/eng/menu.php

Under Dragon Court Menu

Jumbo Special Set Menu in HK$980.00 per person (Minimum 2 persons)

Braised Superior Shark's Fin w/ Brown Sauce

Braised Abalone

Sauteed Scallop & Prawn Ball w/ Vegetable in Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Fresh Red Spotted Garoupa

Scalded Seasonal Vegetable w/ Bamboo Fungus & Chinese Ham in Stock

Deep Fried Crispy Chicken

Braised E-Fu Noodle w/ Diced Seafood

Double Boiled Harsma w/ Almond & Coconut Cream

Chinese Pastries

Fresh Fruit Platter

Under their Shark Fin menu in HK dollars per person:

"Jumbo" Supreme Shark's Fin $1,000.00

Braised Superior Shark's Fin Soup $630.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Crab's Cream $420.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Crab Meat $285.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Shredded Chicken $240.00

Braised Shark's Fin Soup w/ Albumen & Bird's Nest $280.00

Double Boiled Shark's Fin w/ Cabbage, Bamboo Fungus & Chinese Ham $360.00

OR a “private/underground” restaurant:

http://www.clubqing.com/english.html

The "Jumbo Restaurant" is part of the "HoTung Group properties. The types of "Sharks Fin" are just the ones always available on their regular menu. The "Dragon Court" menu is a set menu also available all the time.

Should you want to order a special menu prepared by yourself or host it will be much more expensive as the items would need to be ordered, prepared and arranged in advance or selected from what was Live and available that day.

There are generally live Seafood choices always available from their Live Fish and Shellfish Tanks where just a single fish can easily cost more then (HK$) 1,000.00 +, the other items added can cost quite a bit as well since none of the items included in the HK$ 980.00 menu are special or high priced but may be attractive to a visitor wanting a very nice dinner experience ordering off the menu.

The items served are not particularly exciting in the combinations offered to the majority of local Chinese customers, but certainly a experience to a visitor.

The "Private Restaurant" menus are contrived to apply to the same type of customers. If they wanted to be successful to local customers it would require much more panache and variety, but I wonder what their Chinese Menus look like, I'm sure that special menus are quite important.

Irwin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it's "goh", maybe from "dai jap" crabs?  What are those crabs called in English, anyway?

It's "hairy crab".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The "Private Restaurant" menus are contrived to apply to the same type of customers. If they wanted to be successful to local customers it would require much more panache and variety, but I wonder what their Chinese Menus look like, I'm sure that special menus are quite important.

Irwin:

Are these the menus you were referring to?

http://www.clubqing.com/food4.shtml

http://www.clubqing.com/food2.shtml

http://www.clubqing.com/food.shtml

I don't recognize most of these dishes, are these “private recipes" ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jumbo Special Set Menu in HK$980.00 per person (Minimum 2 persons)

Braised Superior Shark's Fin w/ Brown Sauce

Braised Abalone

Sauteed Scallop & Prawn Ball w/ Vegetable in Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Fresh Red Spotted Garoupa

Scalded Seasonal Vegetable w/ Bamboo Fungus & Chinese Ham in Stock

Deep Fried Crispy Chicken

Braised E-Fu Noodle w/ Diced Seafood

Double Boiled Harsma w/ Almond & Coconut Cream

Chinese Pastries

Fresh Fruit Platter

This menu sounds a little pedestrian, although it's possible the actual dishes themselves are very elaborate.

I found a few high end banquet menus from a few Southern California banquets. Prices are per table.

Mission 261, San Gabriel $1088

Barbecued Whole Suckling Pig

Deep-Fried & Stir-Fried Twins Flavour Prawns

Sitr-Fried Boneless Pigeon & Spike Cucumber w/ Black Fungus

Braised Superior Shark's Fin w/ Supreme Stock

Stir-Fried Fresh Lobster Balls w/ Egg White & Creme

Braised Whole Abalone & Fish Maw w/ Seasonal Green Vegetable

Steamed Fresh Live Fish

Steamed Boneless Chicken w/ Cured Ham & Black Mushroom

Steamed Rice w/ Fresh Crab Meat Wrapped w/ Lotus Leaf

Double Boiled Sweetened Harsmar w/ Red Dates & Lotus Seeds

Fresh Seasonal Fruit Platter

Empress Harbor, Monterey Park $1088

Special Sashimi Platter

Extra Fancy Superior Shark's Fin Soup

Braised Whole Abalone with Fish Maw

Sauteed Fresh Lobster Meat w/ Supreme Sauce

Seasonal Pea Shoots with Crab Roe

Steamed Fresh Live Fish

Clay Pot Rice with Assortted Meat

Double Boiled Bird's Nest w/ Coconut Milk

Assorted Sweet Dim Sum

Empress Pavilion, Los Angeles $988

Baked Avocado Stuffed w/ Crab Meat and Bird's Nest

Double Boiled Shark's Fin w/ Lobster Sashimi

Empress Pavilion Seafood Hot Pot (Whole Abalone, Fish Maw and Sea Cucumber)

Boiled Geo Duck Clams in Special Broth

Braised Pea Shoots w/ Enoki Mushrooms and Dried Scallops

Imperial Style Steamed Live Fish

Shrimp Dumpling in Supreme Soup

Double Boiled Papaya in Coconut Juice

Chinese Pastries

Anyone know of any other fancy menus?

P.S. For anyone unfamiliar with 'harsmar' , it's apparently frog's ovaries.


Edited by sheetz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had a king crab that costed over $1000 USD. The crab was over 15kg in weight IIRC. However, that served like 15 people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In previous posts I have mentioned that during the 1970's there were "Shark Fin Soups' that could cost in excess of (HK$) $1500.00 per table. Remember that each so called piece of "Superior Shark Fin" is priced individually. The expensive pieces depend on the clarity of the cartilage, how it can be sliced for serving, size and species of Shark.

I remember that back in the early 70's, the Hong Kong stock market went way bullish. Many Hong Kong stock players ordered shark fin soup while having dim sum at lunch! Just to show off, they used shark fin soup to mix with rice and ate them as if they were casual everyday meal. And the drink, of course, could only be XO no less.

After the market crashed (in 73 was it?)... those diners suddenly all disappeared.

But of course this get-rich-quick&spend-quicker behavior repeats with every stock market bull/bear cycle. You could see that before 87 and lately 99.

I suppose when people have disposable income attained extremely rapidly, price would never be too high for a bragging right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are these the menus you were referring to?

http://www.clubqing.com/food4.shtml

http://www.clubqing.com/food2.shtml

http://www.clubqing.com/food.shtml

I don't recognize most of these dishes, are these “private recipes" ?

I have read those menus. They are quite interesting.

Most of the dishes on the menu have 2 titles. The main title is some kind of poetic names. It is usually some pretty names or phases but somehow are tied in to the food in that dish. The subtitle is the actual description of what the dish is. Without subtitles, it's just anybody's guess. This dish naming practice is very typical of Chinese banquet meals. I have played that little naming game too with my pictorial recipe on Stir-Fried Lotus Roots with Dry Conpoy and Hairy Moss Fungi (連年發財: 瑤柱發菜炒蓮藕)

The dishes do seem uncommon compared to what's offered at other restaurants. Being that it is a private kitchen, it's up to the chef what dishes to offer.

One thing that I always wonder about these private kitchens is: would there be nights that nobody eats there at all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...] If you think thats expensive today I visited a Seattle dealer in top quality "American Wild Ginseng" who showed me some individual pieces that were ordered that he was packing to send to Hong Kong by Courier that he was exporting that wholesale from (US$) 11,000.00 to $46,000.00 each piece.[...]

I think I can understand and appreciate the difference between a US$1.50 bottle of ShaoHsing cooking wine and a US$6.00 bottle one. And a $5.00 fish from a $20.00 fish. But when the price scale goes exponentially higher, I really don't comprehend: (1) why the price is set so high (just because of scarcity?)? And (2) what is the incremental benefit for paying this exponential increase? For example, what would one gain in taking the US$46000 piece of Wild Ginseng versus taking a US $100 one.

But... people's believes are their believes. If one believes that taking this piece of Wild Ginseng would make him/her live forever, or increases (for him) his manhood for the next 10 years, then I suppose no price is too high. Especially to the Rich (and may or may not need to be famous)... This is the way of life in their realm and money is never in considerations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Today is 小年 (xiǎo nián) which literally means 'little [new] year', but is something more. It takes place approximately a week before Chinese New Year (February 16th this time round - Year of the Dog) and is the festival for the Kitchen God
       
      In traditional animist Chinese thought, there is a god for everything and the kitchen god is responsible for all aspects of, you guessed, the kitchen. Once a year (today), the kitchen god pops back  to report to the god of heaven on the happenings of the last 12 months. Therefore we have to placate him so he makes a good report.  My neighbours are busy preparing offerings of sticky rice and assorted sugary confections for the god, so that when he eats them, his teeth and lips will stick together and he will be unable to report any bad behaviour. An alternative theory suggest the sugary stuff will sweeten his words. Then we'll be OK for another year!
       
      This is  the fellow


    • By liuzhou
      These have been mentioned a couple of times recently on different threads and I felt they deserved one of their own. After all, they did keep me alive when I lived in Xi'an.
       
      Rou jia mo (ròu jiá mò; literally "Meat Sandwich") are Chinese sandwiches which originated in Shaanxi Province, but can be found all over China. Away from their point of origin, they tend to be made with long stewed pork belly. However in Xi'an (capital of Shaanxi), there is a large Muslim population so the meat of choice is more usually beef. In nearby Gansu Province, lamb or mutton is more likely.
       
      When I was living in Xi'an in 1996-1997, I lived on these. I was living on campus in North-West University (西北大学) and right outside the school gate was a street lined with cheap food joints, most of which would serve you one. I had one favourite place which I still head to when I visit. First thing I do when I get off the train.
       
      What I eat is Cumin Beef Jia Mo (孜然牛肉夹馍 zī rán niú ròu jiá mò). The beef is stir fried or grilled/BBQd with cumin and mild green peppers. It is also given a bit of a kick with red chill flakes.
       
      Here is a recipe wrested from the owner of my Xi'an favourite. So simple, yet so delicious.
       

      Lean Beef
       
      Fairly lean beef is cut into slivers
       

      Sliced  Beef
       

      Chopped garlic
       
      I use this single clove garlic from Sichuan, but regular garlic does just fine.
       
      The beef and garlic are mixed in a bowl and generously sprinkled with ground cumin. This is then moistened with a little light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. You don't want to flood it. Set aside for as long as you can.
       

      Mild Green Chilli Pepper
       
      Take one or two mild green peppers and crush with the back of a knife, then slice roughly. You could de-seed if you prefer. I don't bother.
       

      Chopped Green Pepper
       
      Fire up the wok, add oil (I use rice bran oil, but any  vegetable oil except olive oil would be fine) and stir fry the meat mixture until the meat is just done. 
       

      Frying Tonight
       
      Then add the green peppers and fry until they are as you prefer them. I tend to like them still with a bit of crunch, so slightly under-cook them
       

      In with the peppers
       
      You will, of course, have prepared the bread. The sandwiches are made with a type of flat bread known as 白吉饼 (bái jí bǐng; literally "white lucky cake-shape"). The ones here are store bought but I often make them. Recipe below.
       

      Bai Ji Bing
       
      Take one and split it. Test the seasoning of the filling, adding salt if necessary. It may not need it because of the soy sauce. 
       

      Nearly there
       
      Cover to make a sandwich  and enjoy. You will see that I have used a bunch of kitchen paper to hold the sandwich and to soak up any escaping juices. But it should be fairly dry.
       

      The final product.
       
      Note: I usually cook the meat and pepper in batches. Enough for one sandwich per person at a time. If we need another (and we usually do) I start the next batch. 
       
       
      Bread Recipe
       
       
      350g plain flour
      140ml water
      1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

      Mix the yeast with the flour and stir in the water. Continue stirring until a dough forms. Knead until smooth. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise by about one third. (maybe 30-40 minutes).
       
      Knead again to remove any air then roll the dough into a log shape around 5cm in diameter, then cut into six portions. Press these into a circle shape using a rolling pin. You want to end up with 1.5cm thick buns. 
       
      Preheat oven to 190C/370F.
       
      Dry fry the buns in a skillet until they take on some colour about a minute or less on each side, then finish in the oven for ten minutes. Allow to cool before using.
    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs.
      We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known  for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      AFter lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our seranade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By Chris Hennes
      I just got a copy of Grace Young's "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge"—I enjoyed cooking from "Breath of a Wok" and wanted to continue on that path. Does anyone else have this book? Have you cooked anything from it?

      Here was dinner tonight:

      Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (p. 70)

      I undercooked the beef just a bit due to a waning propane supply (I use an outdoor propane-powered wok burner), but there's nothing to complain about here. It's a relatively mild dish that lets the flavors of the ingredients (and the wok) speak. Overall I liked it, at will probably make it again (hopefully with a full tank of gas).


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×