I had one of the most interesting lunch experiences whilst in Guilin. OK so actually we were in Yanshuo which is a little town 1.5hrs drive from Guilin, but I just call it all Guilin cos that’s the famous part :P Anyway, we drove up into the hillside, and then suddenly stopped at the edge of a dirt road. “What are were doing here?” I asked, and apparently it was for lunch. As we walked in, I looked around and there was not a building in sight – someone joked that we were about to have a random picnic lunch ;)
As we walked further into the foilage, I realised we were there for pomelo-picking. COOL! Pomelos are a big, heavy fruit, and I was surprised to see them hanging off trees.. albeit on thick branches to support their weight. The lady scampered all round helping us select and pick our pomelos (4元 each, which is considered expensive for China), but I passed since I don’t like pomelos (or fruit in general, for that matter).
After the pomelo-picking, we walked a few steps further and came across lots of little bamboo huts, with nothing but a table and chairs inside. So THAT’S where we were having lunch!! However, since we were a large group, we ended up in the largest one which was set up above the ground and offered gorgeous views of the mountains alongside us.
Lunch was a storm of dishes. So many I didn’t manage to get photos of it all. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t really understand what each dish was, so had to identify it myself, and thus I skipped on eating a few dishes because I was unsure what was in them. Just as well, as you’ll see in the photo captions below ;)
The food I did eat was excellent though – but so surreal that they can cook such a variety of dishes here in nowhere land! It was restaurant quality – full of flavour and delicious. In fact, the best meal I had whilst in Guilin. I just loved the thoughts of eating out in the great outdoors, in some random little deserted area, and chowing down on really local food.
The most interesting part was when we explored round the back afterwards, and found a man killing chickens, which were then promptly cooked. WOW, talk about fresh food! We all freaked a bit, and I was starting to get nervous at the thought of watching them get killed… but actually it wasn’t scary or gross at all. It was almost mechanical, and so quick. I guess he was a pro! So no, I didn’t find it cruel or awful. Just very interesting. And I liked how the chickens were all running around (instead of being cooped in tiny cages) before they were killed, and I was impressed with how deftly and quickly he killed them, with nary a squawk or flutter – he was that quick!
So do super-fresh, free range chickens taste any different? I have no idea.. cos I missed all the chicken dishes – d’oh!!
Walking into a random deserted place up in the hills. Umm.. where’s the restaurant??
OK so first we went pomelo-picking, cool!
Big fat pomelo
One of the little lunch huts, tucked away in the forest
But we were a big group, so we had a large lunch hut. Very cool!
View of the mountains from our table
Kicked off on some (healthy) nibbles – sweet potatoes and yam. They were good!
Beer Fish – a delicious mild flavour, but sooo many bones, argh
Broad beans and chicken – looked a bit strange so didn’t try it
Pomelo skin stuffed with.. something – looked even more strange, so didn’t try it either
A soup, which I didn’t have a chance to have ‘cos it was on the opposite side of the table
Thank goodness for that, ‘cos I found out afterwards it had TURTLE in it!!!!
Chicken – didn’t look anything like it so I stayed far away
A tumble of Bamboo shoots and pork slices
Some sort of pork and yam dish. This was my favourite, it was so good!!
Unidentifed Chinese veg. It was a bit crunchy and juicy, almost like a pear
Assorted pork and sausage. Not bad, though the fluoro pink was strange
Shallot and egg omelette. Was great, can’t go wrong with an omelette!
Little river shrimps – the Chinese are incredible when they eat this. They pop the
whole shrimp in their mouth, and out comes just the shell 2 seconds later!
Cabbage – looked totally uninteresting but was simply delicious
Some of the dishes. It was a feast!
Out the back, we saw a guy… KILLING THE CHICKENS. Can’t get much fresher
than that! Here he is dunking the just-dead chicken into boiling water
Then he pulls the chicken out
And de-feathers it in about 1 minute
Finally, rinse it all off in cold running water. We were all totally fascinated.
It wasn’t actually as scary as I’d imagined. Really quick and easy!