Eating My Way Through Zhejiang

West Lake, Hangzhou
I’m torn between sharing with you a detailed report of every single thing I ate while in China or only sharing the high (or at least very interesting ) points. A full listing would be a nice reference for me to look back upon one day, but the volume is so great that I think I’ll probably bore you to tears. For instance, there are some meals where I tasted at least 15 dishes, but maybe only 2 really stood out. My meals in Ningbo are an example. Although many items were good, the only things that stood out were the fava beans that I ate with abandon and an Australian Lobster.
Have you ever eaten a fava bean? They are somewhat similar to a lima bean, but bigger and creamier. I hope I can find them back in Nashville because they are incredible!! The lobster was probably the best I’ve ever had– sweet, buttery and melt-in-your mouth good. A quick listing of other foods I encountered during my 2 meals in Ningbo: Grouper, Shrimp, Bamboo, local greens, seaweed salad, beef & peppers (spicy!), thinly sliced beef in vinegar, fish soup, shrimp fried rice, boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, white vegetable (? this is the only way they could explain it*- see pic below), egg whites with asparagus & red pepper, abalone, white fish, crab, dried fish, peanuts, and fresh dates.

“White Vegetable”


After Ningbo we moved on to Hangzhou, which was one of the nicest places I visited. Patrick, our local factory contact, treated us to an afternoon boat ride on the beautiful West Lake (see pic below of Eric, Patrick and me).

After some relaxing time on the calm waters, Patrick took us to dinner at a fantastic restaurant nearby. The guys pored over the menu for several minutes, carefully choosing each dish. I was fascinated by the time they took in ordering. This wasn’t just for this meal, but almost every meal! I love that they care so much.

All of their concentration paid off. Here’s a look at dinner:
Mushrooms with onions and peppersso, so good
Bamboo shoot with sweet saucewe had these in Ningbo too, but I wasn’t crazy about the tart vinegar used in the dish there. This, on the other hand, was delicious!
Lotus root
Hot & Spicy soup with bean curds
Mushrooms with Goose Liver Sauceinteresting flavors. From the sound of it, I didn’t think I would like it, but I did. Enough to have a third helping!
Hangzhou-style Shrimp
Slow Braised Pork
Carrots with Sweet Sauce (pic below)-gorgeous, crisp, and definitely one of the top 10 dishes of the trip

After dinner we checked into our beautiful hotel in Haining where the following day, after a tour of the factory, had lunch with the owner and Patrick. This is a good time to mention one item that became a recurring favorite dish of mine throughout the trip: Mushrooms! The mushrooms at both my Hangzhou and Haining meals were incredible. I was in heaven with the many exotic varieties to try in China. I probably could have subsisted on mushroom dishes alone for the entire stay and been satisfied!

Case in point below:
beautiful black mushrooms with the most amazing texture

Lunch in Haining:
Black Mushrooms (pictured above)-LOVE!
Fried Yellow Eel with Sweet Sauce
Shrimp with Gingko
Cooked Local Lettuce
Boiled Sea Cucumber (jelly-like in texture, I could only do a couple bites. And to think I loved it raw!)
Lobster in broth
Chopped Hot peppers with Pine Nutsspicy, spicy!
Chopped Salad
Chicken (the whole thing — head and all)
Sweet Potatoes

And then there was dessert. If you know much about Chinese food, you might know that they typically finish their meals with fresh fruit, not baked goods like we normally do. Most of the non-fruit dessert offerings they do have are a litte strange to my Western taste buds (see this recap from Hong Kong). However, we capped off this meal with a doozie of a dessert. Can you guess what these circles might be?

Fried Ice Cream!!!

A slightly crunchy outer shell gave way to a cool, extremely creamy ice cream.

And I mean extremely creamy. Fabulous. I’m getting fatter just thinking about it.

That’s it for the Zhejiang Province. Next up I’m off to Guangzhou for a few days. Stay tuned for even more interesting eats!
*I really wish that I could offer you the English translations of many of the foods I ate, but can’t, because in most cases, everything was listed in Chinese characters! The guys were as helpful as they could be, but some things just didn’t translate.