Friday, December 16, 2011

Breakfast and Tea Tasting: First Day in Guilin, China

Breakfast in Guilin, China, was actually enjoyable. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but there were many yummy choices.


Starting clockwise from the top: youtiao, vegetable dumplings, stir fried noodles, steamed brown sugar cakes, mantou, and steamed egg.




There were veggies, vegetable-pork filled dumplings, and even small sweet potatoes.



Being a carb addict, I loaded my first plate with a bunch of noodles and dumplings. I also had some youtiao to enjoy with my hot sweetened soy milk. The flat rice noodles were quite bland, so I stuck with the thinner noodles. As for the black speckled mantou, they tasted like the normal stuff. I really enjoyed the hot soy milk that morning. It was so smooth and fresh.



I thought it was interesting to see a noodle soup station. But that’s what people ate for breakfast. There were three gentlemen from another tour who had a bowl of noodle soup and a plate of veggies and youtiao for their first round. Nice.

The flavour of the soup itself was seasoned lightly. I mean, there was enough salt but I couldn’t really tell what kind it was.  But that was the point. The star of the dish, I believe, is what you put in your bowl. There were spicy beans, two kinds of spicy preserved vegetables, some sliced meat, salted peanuts, soy sauce, hot sauce, and cilantro. The overdone noodles, which I didn’t really like, was just a vehicle for all the condiments. A spicy bowl of noodle soup was a great way to start the morning.




For dessert, there were small tomatoes, slices of watermelon, and deep fried red bean filled sesame balls. I didn’t try any tomatoes, but I saw this during my trip to Asia last year as well. Do people really eat small (cherry?) tomatoes for dessert in China and Taiwan?

Once breakfast was over, we took a boat tour along a shallow river, which cut through the city. It was definitely a touristy thing. We were luckily one of the first groups that morning and ended up being second in the caravan of tour boats.


I saw Lassie swimming with its owners. The tour guide made a point to remind us that some people still hand washed their laundry in the river. And sure enough, we saw a few locals doing their laundry along the riverside. Can you imagine doing your laundry by hand every few days? Yikes…

We were then herded into the Ming Tearoom for some tea tasting.

A lady showed us how to properly brew a pot of tea. The first step was to rinse out and warm the teapot and teacups with boiled water. Then you do a quick rinse of the tea in the teapot, before you pour the drinkable tea.


I can’t remember the name of this tea, but this was pretty light. It takes something like three years for the tea to grow two inches. The lady said that you could actually eat the tea, although it was super bitter. After we had two pots of tea, she took out the tea and put it on a small plate for us to try. Trust me, I tried it and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. I should’ve clued in when I saw her take a nibble.


This was a more fragrant tea than the previous one we tried. Again, I can’t remember what it was called but it was okay.


This tea was mixed with luo hang guo, but I didn’t taste anything other than luo hang guo. Is that a good thing? *Shrug* I don’t know, but I love luo hang guo.


These were the three kinds of tea that we tried. Of course being on a tour in China, they were trying to get us to buy them. Oh, and they didn’t just offer us tea to try and buy. No, no. They were prepared and offered us random snacks too. It’s a good thing, because we were all getting hungry.







Purple rice crisps, peanut butter-like filled biscuit, taro chips, preserved plums, flower petals, and jujubes.




My favourites were the tiny tangerines and the ginger sticks. The small tangerines had a flowery perfume  as you chewed it. As for the ginger sticks, I thought they were offering us some Juicyfruit gum at first. They tasted like gingerbread cookies in a sticky candy form. The white stuff on the outside is the same stuff that they use in rabbit candies. They just melt when you eat them. They stick to your teeth the same way too.


While we sipped more luo hang guo tea, we picked at the various snacks that were offered. And why not, they were giving it to us free. Well, not really. In the end, we got sucked in and bought some preserved fruit.

Our tour group was then brought to eat lunch at the restaurant beside the boat tour. The dining room that they sat us in was pretty spacious and bright. There were small dishes of snacks on the table. We also had Sprite and Liquan nature beer.

Aunty (the one who lives in HK) mixed her beer with Sprite. It was weird, cause the beer was super light. That's how she likes her beer, I guess.


We didn’t have to wait very long for our dishes to arrive. There was a mapo tofu-like dish, some stir-fried rice noodles, fried egg, and some veggies with slices of luncheon meat.




There was also some beef and carrots, and a weird stir fry of beans, celery, carrots, and mystery meat. Actually, the texture wasn’t like meat at all. It was more like biting into foam wrapped cartilage. The outside was a bit soft and porous, while it was slightly crunchy in the middle. Weird.


I was a bit late to the mapo tofu.



We were given two bowls of noodle soup and another plate of stir-fried round noodles. The type of noodle used in these dishes was the same as the ones we were served at breakfast. A few people really loved the noodles and polished them off.





After lunch, we drove out into the countryside to take another boat tour. On our way there, I saw this tiny McDonald's stall in the street. Looks like they only serve ice cream and drinks.

We spent the afternoon walking on the grounds where a local tribe lived. It was a good hike that afternoon.

For dinner, we drove back into town and looked for the restaurant that the tour had chosen. It wasn’t hard to find at all. There were already four tour buses outside the restaurant.

While inside, I glanced over at some of the other tour groups that were eating. I was curious what we’d get for dinner.






There was pork belly, chicken, fried taro, sweet and sour fish, and a vegetable platter. I saw most of these at the other tables as well. We must've had the same menu as the other tour groups.



We also had steamed sticky rice, daikon and tofu, and a weird siu mai that had a gloopy cornstarch-like filling. They barely held together.


My favourite dish of the night had to be the congee. We had all thought it was just soup, but our tour guide said it was congee with puréed spinach. I think he said there was fish in it too. *Shrug*  This would taste really good if you were sick. Like, say you were on a liquid diet briefly. The congee was seasoned really well, but there weren’t any flavours that stood out.


We ended the meal with some oranges. Some slices were sweet while other slices were really sour. We hopped back on the bus and went back to the hotel for the night.

Wonton Egg Noodle Soup and Dinner at the HK Airport

>> Day 2 in Guilin
Breathtaking Sights and Seafood Banquet in Guilin

More links from my Asia 2011 trip:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Christine - That's some major eating! I do know that in China they treat tomatoes like a fruit (which is what it really is). So it's a common snack.


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