November 4, 2023

Country bumpkin goes north: traversing the city

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We got up early today as we are headed east for a tombsweeping mission. It took us nearly two hours to get to Dapeng Bay (大鹏湾) and back, and we quickly showered before checking out of Futian Shangri-La. Now we are ready to continue exploring the city.

Dan Jia Cai (蜑家菜) is a place DaRC recommended, and they serve simple cuisine that traditional Cantonese boat people eat on their boats. It was a short taxi ride from our hotel in a residential neighborhood.

Steamed boatmen's three treasures (船仔蒸三宝) - whitebait (白飯魚), salted fish (鹹魚), and squid. Steamed with soy sauce and a sprinkle of spring onions on top. Simple and homey.

Pan-fried cuttlefish patties (煎墨鱼饼) - always love minced cuttlefish paste, and these come fish cuttlefish chunks.

Mackerel fish balls with bok choy (马鲛鱼蛋白菜) - the texture and the flavors of the fish balls are interesting as they are unusual. Would happily order this again.

We returned to the commercial district around our hotel to check out some of the shopping malls, and also took time to get a quick massage in. We were surrounded by people from Hong Kong everywhere we went.

I made a mistake about the timing of our booking at Rose Garden (嘉苑饭店), and our massage overran a little, so we ended up getting to the restaurant late. Thankfully my friend had arrived a little earlier and took the table. None of us had been here before, but they have gotten themselves two diamonds in the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide (黑珍珠餐廳指南) from Meituan (美團). Surely that counts for something!

Slow cooked sunflower chicken (嘉苑葵香鸡) - this chicken was much more tender than the one we had last night, with a layer of chicken stock jelly between the skin and the meat. They also seasoned it with some sesame oil. Overall I much preferred this, both for the flavors and the texture.

We were meant to get this cup of soup (暖胃汤) first so that it could warm our stomachs and prepare us for the meal, but Chinese service means it arrived after our first dish... This was corn-based.

Boneless marinated goose webs (拆骨老鹅掌) - with the presentation plate on top, it became a little difficult to cut this. I also found it a little hard and crunchy, which wasn't what I had expected. Not sure why this is one of their signatures, as I didn't find it very special.

Wood smoked foie gras (烟熏粉肝) - the smoky flavors were indeed prominent, and a little unusual for foie gras. Pretty good, though.

Fried nine bellied fish with vegetable (九肚鱼瓜青烙) - I see someone used a translation software that failed... I love Bombay duck (九肚魚) so this intrigued me, and I chose it over the classic oyster omelet.

This was very wet and fluffy. The exterior has been slightly browned, but not quite enough. The whole thing was floppy and almost a little soggy. Oh well.

Fried turnip strip with celery (芹仔炒萝卜丝) - this was pretty decent, with clean flavors and a nice chicken broth.

Rice with fish maw and sea cucumber with abalone sauce (花胶海参捞饭) - another signature dish so I ordered this. I was tempted to try something else for myself but resisted the temptation.

Pretty straight up and well-executed. Pretty tasty for sure, but no surprises.

Ginger-flavored gorgon rice soup with sweet potato (姜薯鸡头米糖水) - I was misled by the English translation, as I almost always order sweet potato soup for dessert when I see it. Apparently 潮陽薑薯 is a special type of yam which comes from Chaoyang District (潮阳区) of Shantou (汕头市). It doesn't taste anything like the regular sweet potato, and instead has a slight ginseng and medicinal flavor. Not what I wanted, but I learned something new.

We wanted to make sure we caught the last train back to Hong Kong, so we went back to our hotel next door, picked up our suitcase, and walked to the station. For the last train of the day, First Class was completely full.

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