Saturday, 24 January 2009

Fisherman Village

semi-overcast 21 °C                  

Another side trip (actually two) was to Guangzhou (or Canton to you oldies) to visit Etta's dad. He has a couple of properties in Guangdong and go there in northern winter (southern summer in Sydney) to escape the Sydney's summer heat (like the migrating geese or humpback whales, or the emperors in the past).
I was impressed with some of the things i saw there. Take this restaurant called Fisherman Village we've been, this photo gives you only a small glimpse of the overall size of the restaurant. No menu here, everything are on display, just point out what you want to order to the army of waitresses. And army is apt description in terms of its number, promptness, and efficiency (The workforce these days is far cry from my experience in the previous visits some 18 years when the country is still in a process of transforming itself into capitalism. The customer service staff simply ignore you the customer as they chat to one another. Raising your voice to them wouldn't help. I tried. Since they can't be sacked under a communist system, there is simply no incentive to be nice or diligent. One reason why communism fails). Ok, i'll step off from my soapbox now.
Fisherman Village, Guangzhou, Guangdong, ChinaThe restaurant is stacked with aquariums of a bewildering array of seafood of fishes, crustaceans, and bivalves of all things imaginable. They also stock turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, something that looks like cockroaches swimming in the tanks. As we know the Chinese eat everything with their backs facing the sky (except for Quasimodo in Notre Dame). Some people may think it's gross to eat everything, but it's actually quite green. No wastage from throwaway food. Besides, entrails, offals, etc are not the most tasty bits, they are also the most nutritious. The French and the Chinese has the right idea.
Crocodile meat, Guangzhou, Guangdong, ChinaThis photo shows a croc's choicest cuts. A croc tail was hung on a hook (ex-body, of course). Peter - a friend of Etta's dad - decide to grab the bodiless croc tail as it was twitching on its hook. As Peter grabbed and tried to bend it, the disembodied tail decided to arm-wrestle with him, flipping and struggling from his grasp. I guess this is the croc saying, "Just because the rest of my body is missing, doesn't mean I can't put up a good fight." Yeah, croc meat tastes just like chicken, somewhat chewier.

To actually look at all the food on display I think we covered easily over 1.5 km distance. This is only possible with the size of Chinese population and their penchant for food. I was also pleasantly surprise by the high standard of tastes in food here. Perhaps my preconception was coloured by my previous trips to China. This is surprising when the restaurant I dined in was in Haifeng, which is a commercial backwater in Guangzhou (although it's expanding rapidly like everything else in China). The dim sim restaurant I tried there was some of the best I have tried (and I've tried some of the best dim sim in Sydney and HK). Even Etta's dad was impressed and he's someone who have worked as chef in Tokyo 5-star hotel, opened a few restaurants, and have sampled in literally thousands of restaurants around the world (and in Australia

Yes, Sydney does have some of the best dim sim restaurants in the world as quite a few chefs from top HK restaurants (and other countries) migrated there during the 90's. Several Singaporean friends who tried Sydney dim sim commented that Singapore's dim sim is no match for Sydney's. The only country outside HK where they can have dim sim restaurants (or Chinese food in general) in a comparable standard to Sydney would be Canada. Not surprising with their large population of HK immigrants.