On the first night in Hefei, Anhui, we were treated to a lavish meal at a 5star hotel in Hefei by our host, USTC. It was a culture shock to many of us because we were served about 20 over dishes each table. Initially, we thought our host were just being generous but turns out every meal we had in hotels/classy restaurants in China had almost 20 dishes. However, most of the dishes served were not the usual Chinese food we get in Malaysia. Therefore, some of the food were a bit too weird for my liking.
|The hotel we were at for dinner|
|Wine is a norm at a Chinese dinner.|
So, fine dining in China usually starts with a few plates of "cold dishes" aka Liang Chai. I am alright with eating cold food but these were just too weird...
Also, it is important to note that food differs according to province in China. Hefei, which is located in the Northern side of China, likes their food spicy, hence almost every dish served had chilli/was spicy. They believe that eating spicy food in winter keeps them warm.
|No idea what this is. Looks like an internal part of an animal.|
|These peas look pretty normal right? I thought so too until I took a bite. I cant remember how it tasted like but all I knew was I never took a second bite..|
|Some spicy vegetable..or at least I think its vegetable.|
|Some animal skin/meat I did not try.|
|Cold salami. Not sure what meat though it is most likely pork.|
So while we were having cold dishes, we were also served with hot soup!
|Herbal soup with pig skin. Yup, the white stuff in the soup are pig skins. The soup was actually pretty good, though I stayed away from the skins.|
Then comes the main dishes!
|Finally, a dish I actually liked. Spicy shredded lamb. Note that most dishes do not look spicy based on their outlook but always turns out to be really spicy when you eat it.|
|Finally a non spicy normal tasting dish. Steamed fish.|
Since we are on the topic of fish. Below is a picture of a fish we had on our second day at another hotel. I found this fish interesting because we initially thought this was the tail of the fish. Turn's out its the head! Its called a duck-mouth fish because this fish has a duck mouth. How cool is that?! In terms of taste, it tastes just like any other fish...
I did not take any more pictures after the fish but there were many more dishes including some meat, a plate of fried rice, a few more vegetable dishes and dessert. The rice is usually one of the final few dishes to be served and is pretty bland compared to Malaysian fried rice. As much as we wanted to finish it, we couldn't cause we were full and it wasn't that tasty....
All in all, it was a good experience for me as I got a taste of fine dining in Northern China. However, I prefer their normal food for commoners though! I guess fancy dishes of animal innards are just not my thing. Thankfully, as we progressed downwards to Central China the food served got less and less weirder (and less spicy too). Will blog about my fine dining experience in Shanghai soon which was much much better! :)
To view my travelogue on Hefei, Anhui please click here.