Hangzhou is one of the premier places to eat in China, and its local cuisine features dishes that consist more of pork and seafood rather than the beef and lamb, as those typically found in the north and west regions of China. Typical Hangzhou specialties include Dongpo Rou, an extremely fatty chunk of pork in a syrupy sauce, and Cuyu, which is fish with a vinegar sauce. If you do not like Hangzhou’s cuisine, you can find plenty of excellent Sichuan and Xinjiang restaurants throughout the city. Of course there are also numerous highly recommended western style restaurants.
Hangzhou Restaurant: As one of the oldest restaurants in the city, Hangzhou Restaurant was established in 1921 as Changxing Restaurant. At the time, it enjoyed great fame across Hangzhou by virtue of its mellow rice wine and savory food. In 1951, it switched to the present-day name, gathering a group of top local chefs and dedicated itself to cooking authentic Hangzhou cuisine. During that period, celebrity diners, including Premier Zhou Enlai and Marshal He Long were attracted by its noted dishes, including West Lake vinegar fish, Jiaohua chicken and rice powder pancake. However, the restaurant was closed due to Metro construction in 2004, reopening in 2012. With a new look, but with its hit dishes unchanged, the restaurant quickly recovered its former popularity. The Hangzhou Restaurant menu is based on seasonal ingredients to ensure the freshest of tastes. One of its most famous dishes is Jiaohua chicken — with the bird wrapped in lotus leaves and soil to keep all the seasonings, juices and aroma inside, while it is roasted. Fruit tree wood is used for roasting because it produces less smoke and gives off a pleasant smell. The soil bakes into a crust, and customers are encouraged to crack open the crust.
- Address: 205 Yan’an Road (延安路205号), Tel: (0571) 8708-7123
Lou Wai Lou: Boasting a history of some 150 years, Lou Wai Lou Restaurant is one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Hangzhou, and offers not only authentic Hangzhou food but also a great view over West Lake. It is located on the south side of Gushan, surrounded by celebrities’ former residences, historic sites and museums.
In the late Qing Dynasty, a couple surnamed Hong settled in Gushan and made a living by fishing. Being just as good at cooking, they opened a small eatery, serving fresh cooked shrimp, crab and fish. Today’s Lou Wai Lou was built on that humble foundation. The West Lake vinegar fish served there is considered the signature dish of Hangzhou and was filmed in the popular food documentary “A Bite of China.”
- Address: 30 Gushan Road (姑山路30号), Tel: (0571) 8796-9682, (0571) 8796-9023
Zhi Wei Guan: The restaurant proudly claims a history of 100 years, featuring authentic local dishes and some southern China specialties including xiaolongbao (small steamed buns stuffed with pork), wonton soup, an award-winning dish called zuiji (chicken preserved in alcohol in a small jar), cat’s ear (a classic snack made of glutinous rice), lotus roots with sweet glutinous rice and many others. Zhi Wei Guan can be translated as, “If you want to know (zhi means know in Chinese) my restaurant’s flavor (wei), just see (guan) my choice of ingredients.” A century ago, eatery founder Sun Yizhai established a humble snack bar near West Lake and posted the brand Zhi Wei Guan. People intrigued by the name and mobbed his place, finding the food savory and cheap. The restaurant was listed as a time-honored food service brand in 1993 by virtue of its secret recipes and tasty fare. Whether it’s lunch or afternoon tea or dinner, Zhi Wei Guan is always packed with people. During busy times, diners have to queue up for seats. The must-orders in Zhi Wei Guan include West Lake’s water shield soup, West Lake vinegar fish, home-made steamed buns, Longjing tea shrimp, beggar’s chicken and dingsheng cakes.
- Address: 343 Yangmeishan Road (杨梅山路35号), Tel: (0571) 8702-8123
Grandma’s Kitchen: What does good old-fashioned home cooked food make you think of? Maybe its comfort, satisfaction or taste, the likelihood with Grandma’s Kitchen is, it’s bound to be all three. Specialising in Hangzhou cuisine such as Dongpo Pork and West Lake Carp in Sweet and Sour sauce, it is no wonder Grandma’s Kitchen, together with its ever so reasonable prices, excellent ambience and extensive number of delicious dishes, has become one of the most popular restaurants in town. You know you have come to the right place when you see queues of diners waiting patiently in line to be called to their seats. Don’t let this put you off because, like them, you too will be back queuing for more.
- No. 3, Hubin Road, Shangcheng District Tel: (0571)85101939
- 8th floor, Building B of the Hangzhou Tower in Wulin Square, Shangcheng District Tel: (0571)85175778
Quanjude: Quanjude, founded in 1864, is an age-old Beijing restaurant noted for its signature Quanjude Peking Roast Duck and this May the restaurant shared its culinary culture with the rest of the world in the 2015 Milan World Expo. Yang Quanren (杨全仁), the founder of Quanjude was the first to break the tradition of using closed stoves and together with the imperial cook of the Qing Dynasty, improved the method of roasting a duck in a hung stove instead of a closed one. This method was favored by all which in turn enabled it to become the most popular dish amongst all and sundry. Quanjude, having already made its name and established its own style, is today praised by celebrities and leaders and serves a variety of creative dishes including those prepared from different parts of the duck. From now on, for authentic Peking Roast Duck, there is no need to travel to Beijing when Quanjude is right on your doorstep.
- Address: 3rd floor of Ruiming Building on No.231 Moganshan Road (莫干山路231号锐明大厦3楼)
Haidilao: Haidilao hot pot restaurant is truly one of the best in town, offering unparalleled service and delicious Sichuan style hot pot. If you’re not interested in leaving the comforts of your home, you can always avail their delivery service- just a phone call away, your very own hot pot is always ready to be enjoyed.
- Add: No.135, Yan’an Road (延安路135号) Tel: (0571) 87088050
- Add: No. 87-1, Qingchun Road (庆春路87-1号) Tel: (0571) 81606592 / 81606593
- Add: No. 337, Shaoxing Road (绍兴路337号) Tel: (0571) 85366389 / 85366390
Xibei: For diners wanting to sample authentic northwestern Chinese cuisine in a modern environment, Xibei is an ideal choice. Unlike other Hangzhou northwestern eateries with simple decor and noisy surroundings, Xibei provide diners with a tranquil environment. Northwest China is home to a diverse landscape, including the Gobi desert, grasslands and the Loess Plateau. The environment has led to people there favoring red meat and cereals. Youmian is a kind of noodles commonly seen in northwestern China. It is made from hulless oat, a cereal variety grown in that area. Xibei makes its youmian by hand instead of machine, making it more al dente and smooth-tasting. Chefs cook them according to traditional method with shredded mushrooms, tomatoes and mutton soup for a fragrant taste with umami. Red meat dishes are made in accordance with the original cooking style of traditional northwestern cuisine, without any monosodium glutamate. To provide guests with authentic flavor, Xibei gets its mutton and beef from the prairies of northwest China. And every lamb chop and beef rib are braised for two to three hours, and then roasted with secret recipes. The steamed bun offered in Xibei is made of millet — a grain suitable for cultivation in the northwest. Red dates and red bean paste are stuffed inside what is a daily staple for the people there. The sea buckthorn juice on offer is very much a northwestern beverage, rarely seen on the menus of most other restaurants. Sea buckthorn grown by people in semi-desert locations to conserve water and stop erosion. Sea buckthorn juice has a sweet and slightly sour taste and is rich in vitamin C.
- Address: 4/F, Intime Shopping Mall, 380 Fengtan Road, Tel: (0571) 2891-1165
Fu Xing Guan Restaurant: Fu Xing Guan Restaurant is at the top of Yuhuang Hill and is the highest eatery in the city. Views of West Lake, Hangzhou and the Qiantang River make for a pleasurable atmosphere during the meal. The restaurant is affiliated with the Taoist temple Fu Xing Guan. Vegetarian box lunches cost 10 yuan but there is also an a la carte menu. Although non-vegetarian food is available, the restaurant is best known for its non-meat dishes. Chinese vegetarian restaurants serve vegetables as one would expect, but they also make a variety of dishes that look like meat. Often made with tofu, such dishes have been created for meat lovers who need to eat vegetables in certain situations, for example, after worshipping Buddha. A classic local vegetarian dish is Hangzhou rolled “chicken,” which is actually bamboo shoots rolled in a thin tofu sheet. Also try the West Lake water shield soup. Water shield is an aquatic plant with coin-sized leaves resembling a lotus and the soup also has amorphophallus, which are crunchy and look like shrimps. Admission to Yuhuang Hill is 10 yuan and once inside the main gate it’s about a 30-minute walk to the top.
- Address: 1 Yuhuangshan Rd (find the entrance at the intersection of Yuhuangshan Road and Nanshan Road), Tel: (0571) 8707-2030
Chao Zhong Ren Restaurant: From a stall to a small restaurant to a brand with five branches, Chao Zhong Ren’s reputation continues to grow by virtue of its good food.An assortment of fresh fish, crab, shrimp and other critters swimming in tanks or lying on ice attract many diners, Some even make the bold claim that it’s the city’s best Chaozhou cuisine, famous for its fresh, light seafood and vegetables made with little oil. Chaozhou cooking originated in the Chaoshan coastal region of Guangdong Province. It’s a major branch within Guangdong cuisine, influenced by both Cantonese and Fujian cooking. The restaurant purchases its seafood from Guangdong. All dishes are made without much oil with an emphasis on poaching, steaming, simmering, braising and stir frying. The seafood porridge is Chao Zong Ren’s signature dish. It is not boiled with water, but in a fruit and vegetable soup. Salt is the only seasoning used. A shrimp congee for two people is enough for three or four to share, given there are dozens of shrimps inside. The porridge is stirred frequently while it is boiled so the rice stays clear but does not get sticky. The seafood porridge has more than 20 types of seafood including crab, shrimp, lobster, scallop and eel.
- Address: 368 Gudun Road (古墩路368号), Tel: (0571) 8775-5259
Wasabiya Japanese Restaurant: On the 5th floor of the Carrefour building on Yan’an Road you’ll find a Japanese restaurant nestled within the confines of the Rumonter Hotel. It’s called Wasabiya, and if you’re a fan of authentic Japanese food then this is the place for you. This hidden gem with outdoor seating affording you stunning views of the West Lake is not to be missed if fresh sushi, sashimi, and teppanyaki are something you crave.
- Address: 5/F, Yongjin Square, 135 Yan’an Road (延安路135号涌金广场5楼), Tel. (0571) 5659 9283
Sawasdee Thai Restaurant: It’s becoming a battle royal over Thai food here in Hangzhou, and the latest contender is pulling no punches, as the Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale West Lake Hangzhou brings a prize-fighter to the fore with Sawasdee. We’d like to start by pointing out how you won’t feel like you’ve been mugged when the check comes, which is nice considering this place could probably get away with charging considerably more than they do. The always-hungry MORE crew settled into their seats, as the food started making its way to our table. Looking around, we could see that the spacious and comfortable dining room is perfect for pretty much any occasion, with soft lighting, and lots of black and gold to keep the ambience feeling both mysterious and elegant. The food arrived with much anticipation as we eyed the lidded porcelain bowl of Tom Yam Goong that was set down, as well as a very colorful and well-presented Larb Gai chicken salad which appeared next. Sawasdee’s soup had all the right flavors and heat known to emanate from those infamous Thai peppers, and we were especially pleased to NOT find inedible bits of lemongrass to clumsily chew on, as you might encounter at other venues. A soft, warm Roti followed, along with plain steamed rice, providing the perfect backdrop for Green Curry, sliced pork neck, and the benchmark Pla Tod Sam Rod crispy fish. While everything we ordered was delicious, it’s probably more important to point out that the staff at Sawasdee is exceptional. They give their guests more than just a meal. The restaurant manager, a very affable Thai, showed us the proper way to enjoy and appreciate the foods from her home land. For those of you, who’ve not had the good fortune to be able to travel to Thailand, fret not as the manager gave us a little, “Locals Only” insider info we found highly valuable. This kind of service received very high marks from us, since the food scene in Hangzhou is just beginning to open up, and educating the dining public will take more than heavy cash investments into venues that fail to connect with their customers on a personal level. It is perhaps best summed up by Chris Dexter, GM of the hotel, when he says “We may not be the most lavish, but we strive to be the friendliest.” Of course it doesn’t hurt that they offer an outstanding sticky rice dessert with coconut cream, strawberry, and fresh mango as well.
- Address: 2/F, Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale Hangzhou, 555 Fengqi Road (凤起路555号杭州温德姆至尊豪廷大酒店2楼), Tel. (0571) 8761 6888-6387
Eight Korea BBQ: It is a Korean restaurant famous for its signature eight-color set. The dish has eight large grilled pieces of pork flavored with different seasonings. The eight seasonings are spicy, soy sauce, curry, ginseng, pine leaves, wine and herbs.
The pine leaf flavored pork is a highlight as it features the scent of vegetables. The ginseng of course smells just like ginseng, but is worth a try since it’s not found on most menus. The herb-seasoned pieces are best suited to those who prefer mild foods.
Another nice feature is that oil isn’t used, which is standard for Korean barbecue dishes. The chunks of meat are placed on a hot iron plate by waiters and customers watch it cook. The waiters then cut the large chunks into smaller pieces with scissors until the surface is slightly burnt. The meat is then wrapped in a crispy lettuce leaf, resulting in a tasty hunk of pork that is neither too spicy nor too salty. All vegetables and sauces are free at the buffet counter. And every table gets a free large bowl of seafood soup with crab, squid and onions.
The eight-color set is good for three people. For those who are still hungry, try the cheese fried rice. The chefs use mozzarella cheese in the recipe.
- Address: 51 Hubin Road (湖滨路51号), Tel: (0571) 8578-7757
Slim’s New York Steak and Burger: Let me tell you now, not to be fooled by the name of this place because Slim’s New York Steak and Burger isn’t going to leave anybody “slim.” Located on Nanshan Road in one of those cute grey brick houses just past the Art Academy; this place does everything right. From their expertly written menu, to their food, their service, their outfitting, all is more than we could ever expect. We went there on a sleepy afternoon, and were immediately surprised by their layout which is the opposite of Eudora’s, which also happens to be opposite the street; it’s totally under-crowded furniture arrangement was a breath of fresh air. We started our meal off with two starters and we were more than pleased with what we got. The Boston Lobster Bisque (55RMB) hit the spot, as did the Steakhouse Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese (48RMB). We were then served The Atomic (55RMB) which was a fantastic array of spicy buffalo sauce, jalapeno, ranch dressing, and fried onions all on a burger that was cooked just as it’s supposed to be. And who can stay away from The Bada Bing (55RMB) with Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and arugula which was dripping onto the plate on the first bite? As Logan, our in house mixologist, mentioned on his Wechat moment, “I’m thinking next trip I get a steak myself.” We certainly agree with the man, as the menu says, “Our Signature Steaks are Certified USDA Prime Angus Beef imported directly for New York Steak cut to order & grilled to perfection on our custom char-grill.” And then there’s their drink menu, which includes the likes of a Moscow Mule (48RMB), and a Long Island Ice Tea (68RMB), but don’t fret they’ve also got more reasonably priced drinks in their Tsingtao (25RMB), and their Coronas (30RMB), so it won’t break the bank after all. We can highly recommend getting fat at Slim’s. Parking is available across the street, and smoking is allowed in the front room only.
- Address: 202-2 Nanshan Road (南山路202-2号), Tel. (0571) 8701 0933, 156 5713 7188
Brotzeit German Beer Bar & Restaurant: With an MO of providing a true representation of what is happening in a modern Germany, Brotzeit delivers traditional German and Bavarian dining in a modern era, whilst keeping a safe distance from fusion-style food. The name (literally translating as ‘bread time’) refers to a cosy meal complemented by fresh beer, something carried off off with a kind of German pizazz and precision that many of us have come to know and love. Everything comes with the intention of bringing you and your party closer together. Seating coaxes you into leaning into conversation rather than slouching away from it, meaning you are left with no choice but to put the phone down and soak up your company. Should you underestimate your party size, these leather benches also allow for the squeezing on of extra members and a closeness that can only encourage comradery. Altogether, Brotzeit provides the perfect setting for that special occasion or social event, be it among friends, family or colleagues. To continue this theme, many of Brotzeit’s signature dishes come in platter form, allowing you to try the best of what they offer, all while conversing and sharing your opinions on the dishes served. The Brotzeit Platter (518RMB) embodies this best, boasting a selection of sausages, sweet and spicy pork ribs and their trademark pork knuckle, crispy-skinned, yet moist within. Taking 72 hours to prepare and well-worth the wait, this is subject to limited stock so order early. Platters come with a choice of sides. If you’re looking for something lighter, their award-wining Seafood Salad(78RMB) might fit the bill, or in keeping with authenticity, the Bavarian Potato Dumplings with Spinach(78RMB). Starters are also plentiful, including smaller sausage platters, Chicken Fillets(58RMB) or one of their freshly baked Bavarian Pretzels(12RMB). For dessert it doesn’t get more traditional than the Kaïserschmarren(88RMB), shredded rum and raisin pancakes served with plum sauce. As for beer, Pils, Lager, Dark Lager, Weissbier and Hefe-Weissbier(68RMB 0.5L) are all imported straight from Germany’s renowned Krombacher brewery, and in keeping with Germany’s purity laws, avoid the use of additives. Beer samplers(88RMB) are available for the unsure. Beer mixes, German wines, coffees and soft drinks available also. Having recently secured a partnership with the Bundesliga, free memorabilia and food give-aways will be handed out during matches. Also, right now a ‘Kids eat Free’ special offers a free kids meal with adults spending more than 100RMB.
- Address: 103, Building 1, 1st Lane, Longxiangli, Zone 77B, Hubin InTime Mall, 255 Yan’an Road (延安路255号湖滨银泰77B区龙翔里一弄1幢103), Tel 0571 8659 3580
Chez Shibata: It is considered the Hermes of Hangzhou’s patisseries. Though the desserts are a bit expensive — though not as pricey as the Paris-based luxury brand’s goods — it still attract streams of sweet-toothed customers every day. Queues are a familiar sight at peak times, so booking beforehand is recommended. The famed luxury Japanese patisserie outlet, founded by master chef Takeshi Shibata, opened in Hangzhou two years ago in Xixi Wetland Paradise Complex. Shibata spent years learning to make French desserts in France and Japan. In 1995, he opened the first Chez Shitaba outlet in his hometown. Later, branches opened in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hangzhou. Unlike other dessert shops that feature homey decor and cozy layouts, Chez Shibata is characterized by an avant-garde design. A canoe hanging from the ceiling and large glass roof add quirky modern touches. Chez Shibata offers a selection of Japanese-French fusion cakes and pastries characterized by fancy garnishes. Popular lines include heart-shaped cakes, big macaroons, La Venus and eclair au caramel beurre sale. La Venus is a chocolate mousse cake sprayed with red cocoa powder, a scattering of crispy chocolate pearls and marinated cherries. eclair au caramel beurre salé is an elongated puff pastry filled with caramel cream, brushed with a caramel glaze, and topped with three pieces of Philippe Olivier butter and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt. Yummy.
- Address: No. 20-2, WestBrook Commercial Street, Tel: (0571) 8102-2890
Mercato Piccolo: The Hangzhou brand extension of Italian restaurant Mercato Piccolo caused quite a stir in the city’s dining scene when it opened last month, with much of the buzz centered on the celebrity status of its menu designer, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. With a bevy of international awards and accolades to his credit, Vongerichten is one of the most famous chefs in the world. The French chef rose to prominence in 1997 with the opening of New York City eatery Jean-George. Within three months, the restaurant had earned a four-star review from The New York Times. Today, it also boasts a trio of Michelin stars. Vongerichten later designed menu and dish concept for Mercato Piccolo in Shanghai, located at Three on the Bund. So far, the restaurant’s expansion into Hangzhou seems to be a success. “We consider Hangzhou a growing potential market,” says Tony Ni, communication manager for the Mercato brand. Ni added that reservations at the new Hangzhou branch have been filled through August. Located in the Hangzhou Tower shopping mall, this dedicated restaurant still maintains the “farm-to-table” concept of its original Shanghai location. And, just like its forbearer, Mercato in Hangzhou prides itself on serving up authentic Italian cuisine made with fresh organic ingredients from local markets and foreign suppliers. The restaurant’s signature dish is Warm Seafood Salad, Avocado, Lemon and Parsley. This simple dish includes cooked fresh scallops, shrimp and squid served with a parsley and avocado salad topped with a lemon dressing. Meanwhile, Mercato also offers traditional pizzas cooked to perfection in an authentic wood-burning Italian oven. First-time diners are strongly encouraged to try either the popular mushroom or black truffle pizza.
- Address: D123, D Mansion of Hangzhou Tower, No. 1, Wulin Square 武林广场1号杭州大厦购物城D座一楼D123号, Tel: (0571) 8190-5656
Ristorante Mulinaccio: Another popular fancy Italian choice is Ristorante Mulinaccio. With over 200 years of history, this Italian restaurant brand recently opened its first restaurant in China next to Hangzhou’s famed West Lake. The kitchen of this new establishment is helmed by Francesco Losacco, a pizza chef with more than 30 years of experience. Losacco insists on making authentic southern Italian pizza, such as pizza bianca, smoked salmon pizza and pineapple pizza. “People are more demanding about food, and cooks are creating more varieties, but I believe the original is best,” he explains. The restaurant’s calzones have also proved popular. Indeed, branch owner Wu Jing recalls with pride how four visiting Italians polished off eight calzones in a single sitting.
- Address: 3/F, 123 Pinghai Rd (at the crossing of Hubin Boutique Street) 平海路123号杭州湖滨国际名品街3楼, Tel: (0571) 8782-5681