Monday, June 26, 2006

This is life 10: Food and Culture in Great China 2

Hangzhou has this truly unique restaurant that brings in the flavours of Thai.

Service is friendly, bringing in the tropical hospitality. However, this is still China and the waiters and waitresses are mostly Chinese. It is interesting to notice that most of the people in the service industry do not admit their mistakes and that they will give whatever excuses, logical or not, to get out of the difficult situation. Most of them must have been practising the art of confusing and convincing the enemy. Perhaps this very much explain the strewdness of the Chinese business and the art of human talk. And perhaps one of the cultural skills that the ministers of Singapore hope that their citizens can attain.

The experience at ''banana leaf'' was a pleasing one. The food was of fine quality. The tom-yum soup flavourful, although having it in Thailand will be better. There was this fried dough dish, which is almost exactly like the roti prata back in Singapore. The difference was that they come in smaller pieces and tasted really good. So crispy, so fragrant, so good, that the conclusion, ''better than any roti prata found in Singapore'', was a safe one. There was much shame at the so called ''national food'' of Singapore, that can be prepared so well in a country like China. No curry was accompanied with this dish, however, and there was not a need to. However, how this dish has got anything to do with Thailand, was as mysterious as the great taste itself.

This is a great restaurant to take a taste of Hangzhou famous cuisines which happens to sit just beside the fame Westlake. During the lunch hour, this restaurant will be fully packed because of the surge from the Westlake travellers but for dinner, it is more quiet as people will be heading for the city centre instead, for Hangzhou cuisine.

The setting in this restaurant is really attractive almost like how the Qing emperor dine in his palace but minus the concubines.

The food is mostly great. There are indeed some interesting dishes found in Hangzhou cuisine. Marinated pork wrapped in buns which provides warm and flavour, that is has its origins as a farmer's food. It is wonderful to know that China's farmers do eat so well. No wonder they have all the energy to produce so many products to be exported around the world.

The fish is really fresh, however it is really important to forget that China's rivers are rather polluted, so that fresh fish can really be enjoyed. There was another dish which is deep-fried flour with corn. It was sweet and unexpectedly non-greasy that requires highly skilled hands.

Leftovers are plentiful but it is essential for a formal Chinese dinner because this shows much generiosity in the host. And for once, hungriness of the poor Chinese people on the streets should be forgotten. Wonderful memories of Hangzhou cuisine is here to stay.


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