Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Holiday to Hangzhou: Part 1

I apologise for the quietness on my blog recently. The main reason is that Kimi and I have just been away for a few days. Originally we were going to Shanghai to see a concert, but after the government put a stop to that -- as I talked about here -- we decided to pay a visit to Hangzhou with the possibility of visiting Shanghai afterwards (we didn't make it to Shanghai).

After a four and a half hour bus ride, we arrived at Hangzhou. Everything seemed very familiar, nothing had changed since I lived there just over a year ago. We walked to the nearest bus stop and caught a bus to our hotel located in the city centre. The hotel itself was very modern, basic, and most importantly, clean. By this time it was already approaching 4 o'clock, and because we didn't have any lunch on the bus, we were hungry. Our plan was to go to one of Hangzhou's most popular restaurants, Grandma's Kitchen. We thought if we went early we would certainly get a table. This is what happened:

You can't even book a table here, the only option is to queue

So we waited -- for an hour and a half. It is quite astonishing how one restaurant can be so popular. Every time it is the same story, huge queues and slow service. There isn't only one Grandma's Kitchen, there are many of them scattered across the city, each of them probably as equally crowded. Once our number was called we entered the restaurant and took our table -- which we had to share with another couple. When reading the menu one thing is quite apparent: everything is cheap. I got the feeling that one of the reasons the restaurant is so popular could be due to a con of sorts. The restaurant looks expensive, the food looks fancy, but it's all a bargain. Also, the menu is extremely diverse, there's a lot crammed into the pages. You can get anything from Chinese basics like Mapo Tofu, to other slightly less desireable offerings such as Pig's brain (they didn't really need to have a picture of that one, I could have guessed what it might look like).

Our food was delivered extremely quickly even though it was almost impossible to find a waiter who would take our order in the first place. The food was delicious, not the standard Chinese food I am used to. Each dish had something different to offer, it was almost worth the wait.

Somehow we managed to eat almost all of this

There'll be more Hangzhou tomorrow, time to get ready for work now.


mabelp said...

Hi Chris, it's cool to know that you had a great time in Hangzhou. According to your pic, the food was delicious.

Did you visit your old colleagues of a kindergarten there?

大眼睛熊 said...

That was a long...long wait, but you were right, the food there was almost worth the wait, the only shame was they'd sold out of DongPo Pork!! We're definitely going there again, maybe 4 o'clock in the afternoon? xxx

大眼睛熊 said...

3 days wasn't enough, was it? Maybe next time we can stay a bit longer in Hangzhou, and Sally will be there with us, i think she will like it there as well!! xxx

Chris said...

Mabel, I didn't get chance to visit anybody else while I was there. The only person I would have wanted to visit at the kindergarten left China months ago too. The time always goes too quickly, never get chance to do everything. The food was delicious too!!

Kimi, yes I hope we can stay longer next time, maybe we can leave Wenzhou and live there, that would be longer wouldn't it? ;o)

Sophie said...

ooo... i am a tofu super fan! sigh. i want the mapo tofu soooooo badly right now. with rice.

this is really one of the simplest dishes to make anywhere in the world so long as you can get hold of tofu and sauce package.

Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.