Guangzhou enjoys a reputation as the “Food Capital of China”, and Guangzhou-style snacks are well-known throughout China. The following are ten local snacks you can’t miss when traveling in Guangzhou.
Rice noodles have a long history and Shahe Rice Noodles is the most well-known snack in Guangzhou, named after its original place, Shahe Town, now part of Tianhe District in Guangzhou. Shahe Rice Noodles are white, thin and taste slippery. They are often stir-fried with meat (beef in most occasions) and vegetables, cooked with fish slices and vegetables with soup, or served cold with fruit or vegetable juice. Fried rice noodles have landed up on the 2009 list of “the 10 most favorite US recipes” published on the Los Angeles Times Website.
Flour cuisine is not typical in Guangzhou, but Wonton noodles are favored here. This snack, which consists of wontons and noodles, is usually served in hot soup, garnished with Chinese chives and chopped spring onions. Inside the thin wrapping of a wonton, the filling is a mixture of shrimp, pork and eggs, or even a complete shrimp. The noodles are made of flour and eggs, without any water added, so they taste slippery and elastic.
Few people in Guangzhou don’t know Rice Noodle Roll (also translated as Steamed Rice Roll). It is a thin roll made from a wide strip of Shahe fen (rice noodles), filled with shrimp, pork, beef, vegetables, or other ingredients. The traditional method is to extend a piece of cloth within the steamer, then spread the rice milk on the cloth and steam. Sweet soy sauce is poured over the dish upon serving.
Mix water chestnut powder with sugar water, then steam it, and you get water chestnut cake. It got its name from a place, Pantang in western Guangzhou, where the best water chestnuts are produced. The cake is usually cut into square-shaped slices and steamed or pan-fried before serving. The cake is soft but keeps its shape when it is ready to serve. Often a golden brown color, it tastes slippery, refreshing and tasty with a chestnut flavor. Sometimes the cake has chopped water chestnuts embedded into each square piece. Water chestnut cake is one of the best choices for breakfast.
Residents in Guangzhou have the habit of drinking morning tea, the point of which is not tea or food, but communication. Shrimp dumpling tops the four most-ordered snacks of Cantonese morning tea. The dumpling is steamed in a bamboo steamer and it is usually served with soy sauce or red rice vinegar. The half-transparent wrappers of the shrimp dumpling are usually as white as snow, as thin as paper, therefore the stuffing inside can be seen hazily.
Steamed BBQ Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao)
Steamed bun stuffed with barbecue-flavored pork is one of the characteristic snacks in Guangzhou, and one of the four most-ordered Cantonese morning tea snacks. Wheat flour is used to make the dumpling wrapper, which is thin and half-transparent, and the fillings include the BBQ pork in small pieces mixed with oyster sauce. The dumplings are steamed in a bamboo steamer, and can go with vinegar and garlic slices. After being steamed, the wrappings turn soft and smooth, crack a little on the top to show the stuffing with overwhelming fragrance.
In old days, this congee was served on shuttling sampans in the western outskirts of Guangzhou. Sampan Congee is well-known for its rich ingredients, including sliced fish, shrimp, fried peanuts, jellyfish slices, and spring onion, etc. The rich ingredients made the congee so delicious. Now the unique congee can be found in many restaurants in Guangzhou, including roadside eateries and luxury hotel restaurants, but it is no longer served on boats.
It is said that this kind of snack was invented by a Muslim chef, who cooked beef rolls, white radishes together with the sauce blended with Chinese prickly ash and aniseed over a slow fire. The white radishes absorb the flavor of the beef offals and the sauce is very tasty. Many local residents followed suit, and this snack has been preserved until today.
Ginger milk, called Jiang Zhuang Nai in Chinese, is the milk with ginger juice in jelly shape. Shawan ginger milk is a famous snack of Panyu District with a history of over 100 years. Ginger is stomachic, good to spleen and also has the function of get rid of the cold. While together with buffalo milk, ginger milk is also nutrient. Winter is the best time to have ginger milk.
Shunji is an old brand name for ice cream in Guangzhou. The most famous ice cream there is coconut ice cream, which was firstly invented by a vendor called Lv Shun in 1920s by using coconut juice, fresh buffalo milk, eggs and white sugar. This ice cream is not only beautiful but also has strong fresh coco smell and distinct flavor. Many honored guests and heads of state from abroad have tasted this ice cream and taken delight in talking about it.