Guangzhou, in the southeastern province of Guangdong, near Hong Kong, is one of China’s fastest-growing cities, with new buildings from internationally renowned architects and an emerging, world-class art scene. The city also has what may be China’s most exciting food, thanks to some of the best local produce and seafood found anywhere on the mainland, wonderful indigenous cooking and an exceptional variety of restaurants offering cuisines from all over the country.
Cooking rice in hand-fired pots is an art at Ya Yuan, which offers this classic Guangdong dish in versions made with chicken, salted fish, pork, mushrooms and pickled greens. The crispy leftovers found at the bottom of the rice pot can be turned into a rich soup. Details 14 Chao Tian Rd., near Zhong Shan 6 Rd.; 011-86-20-8335-5808.
Huang Gho Shu
The province of Guizhou has some of the country’s most fascinating food, blending sour, spicy and smoky flavors wit. Details East Block, 2/F, Sec. A, 475 Huan Shi Dong Rd.; 011-86-20-8769-6459.
Liu He Cha Mi Xiang
Guangzhou has some extraordinary places to sample Chaozhou-style cuisine, which comes from the area surrounding the port of Shantou. This second-floor restaurant serves excellent renditions of the region’s specialties: crispy shrimp cakes, marinated goose, salt-baked fish. Details 48 Jin Sui Rd., Su Jiang Xin Chen; 011-86-20-3862-0917.
Hakka-style food was created in China by the nomadic ethnic group Kejia, or "guest people." Kejia Wang has perfected this peasant cuisine in dishes such as lotus-and-pork patties, and tea-soaked chicken. Details Bao Gang Ave. Dao, near Xi Ji Dong Zhan; 011-86-20-8435-3102.
Tang Yuan Wang
Guangzhou may be the only Asian city outside Japan whose native sweets have wide appeal. Tang Yuan Wang offers silky soups spiked with dumplings of ground walnut, almond or chestnut and served hot or cold in glass bowls. Details 41 Jiang Nan Xi Rd.; 011-86-20-8449-4394.
Art Scene: Guangzhou’s Big News
A onetime colonial port-turned-industrial city, Guangzhou is reinventing itself once again as an art and architecture mecca. The next two years will see some exciting openings. Since the 2005 Guangzhou Triennial helped bring the city international attention, more new art spaces have been popping up, including Park 19 and Vitamin Creative Space. Zaha Hadid is designing an opera house, and the new Museum of Guangdong, designed by Rocco Yim to resemble a series of ultramodernist lacquer boxes, will open near the architect’s stunning yacht-shaped International Financial Place. Also in the works are a slew of new hotels: Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La and Grand Hyatt properties are due in 2007.