Tastebuds

A food blog from everywhere!

Bakery Post#2: Matcha, Red Bean, Custard Pudding

Bakery Post #2: Matcha, Red Bean, Custard Pudding
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Through a friend’s suggestion I discovered a new, intriguing bakery near the train station today. Unfortunately I have AGAIN failed to record the name of the
establishment but it is located in the office building to the northwest of the GZ East Train Station. It’s in the same building where the 7-11 and Starbucks and
McDonalds are, so not too hard to find.

At first sight one can see that this place is classy; it isn’t just any old Chinese bakery. In fact, they sold a lot of Western-style goods like biscotti and
madeleines, treats that are almost impossible to find in a typical bakery in Guangzhou. AND they had artisan breads! I’ll definitely go back to try those sometime.

But anyways, today, I decided to get the most unusual-looking item that I could find: the Matcah, Red Bean, and Custard Pudding.

I have to say this roll was definitely very unusual. It consisted of a matcha-flavoured soft bread ring riddled with red bean pieces and topped with custard.
My opinions on each of these components individually aren’t very high. I found the matcha bread to be highly lacking in the green-tea flavour even though one can
smell the green-tea scent very clearly. ANd the bread base wasn’t very sweet either…it seemed like they skimped out on the sugar and made it up with the pieces of
red bean, which were unevenly dispersed throughout the dough and thus resulted in random chunks of sweetness amidst the surrounding…non-sweetness.

Now, the custard, on the other hand, was quite good. It had just the right amount of sweetness. Clearly its role is, like the red bean’s, to impart the necessary
sugar to the bread base. Unfortunately, again the amount of custard did not match with the amount of bread so there were again areas of “non-sweetness.”

Biting into all those components as a whole, there was a subtle contrast between the gooey custard (which wasn’t sticky, so it isn’t a messy eat) and the soft
bread, but I think it would have been better if the custard had been caramelized at the top. Ah, creme brulee on matcha bread! Now that sounds interesting.

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October 25, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Guangzhou | | Leave a comment

Bakery Post #1: Red Bean Pastry

Bakery Post #1: Red Bean Pastry
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So because I like breads and pastries so much and I’m always looking for an excuse to visit bakeries, I have decided to start a bakery series! At least once a week I will blog about an intriguing bakery item that I find around town. I’ll try my best to post unusual items that aren’t usually found in typical Chinese bakeries in North America but actually, once you come to China that really isn’t difficult at all. Over the years I have seen many of the typical Chinese bakery items disappear from local bakeries and replaced by stranger and stranger offerings…

Anyways, so the item of this week is a red bean pastry

that I found at breadTalk.

breadTalk is a fairly new franchise here in Guangzhou and isn’t as ubiquitous as, let’s say, Maxims. Thus their breads are quite unique. Take the red bean pastry, for instance. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. Hmmm, how to describe it…

Firstly, it is very sticky. The wrinkly pastry appears to be glazed with some sort of syrupy glaze…thus it isn’t the sort of thing that you can eat neatly. Past the outer layer of sweet puff pastry is a mixture of custard and red beans. The filling wasn’t too sweet and blended into the outer layer quite well. Biting into the bun, one can taste the lightly caramelized outer pastry, which is slightly chewey, and then the lightly sweetened inner filling, which is smooth and soft. A really nice treat overall.

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Guangzhou | , | 1 Comment

Hot Pot at Grandview

Hot Pot at Grandview Mall
Address: 8th floor, Grandview Mall (above the arcade)

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A few days ago we had lunch at a hot pot restaurant in Grandview Mall (sorry, forgot the name again…). When we got there at noon the place was pretty empty, but it did fill up somewhat during our meal. The restaurant is pretty dark and has a rather…cryptic design. Definitely not your typical hot pot restaurant.

First they served us complimentary drinks: water (lol) and a small glass of plum juice. The juice was pretty fresh and pulpy. It tasted sweet and sour and was somewhat catchy; a you sip some and then you want more sort of idea.

Unlike traditional hotpot, here diners are provided their own individual pots. For my soup base I had mushroom broth.

For my sauce, I had the sesame sauce. It came at first with a LOT of oil that I scatted off before taking the photo…

We ordered a moderate amount of food but godly, their portions were quite small for the prices that they were charging! True, the ingredients do seem more fresh and the choices are more upscale than typical hot pot places but honestly, it was quite pricey…


Clockwise from top-left: fish (really boney), fried bean curd, lamb, mushroom combo, beef, and wood ear.


Clockwise from top-left: venison, fish, bean curd, wood ear, beef, mountain yam, meat ball combination (handmade and pretty good), and beef marrow (somewhat slimy).


Vegetable combination (18 RMB!)

In the end, it was a decent meal. They had some pretty unusual offerings such as venison and beef marrow, which were interesting experiences. The leftover broth at the end was excellent. However, I think that really, for the same general hot pot experience I would go somewhere cheaper next time…

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Chinese, Guangzhou, Restaurants | | Leave a comment

Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza

Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza
Address: 3rd floor, Citic Plaza

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One night we were in the mood for Shanghainese food, so we headed to the Shanghainese restaurant on the third floor of Citic Plaza. Sorry, for again I have forgotten to grab and business card and as a result have totally forgotten the name of the establishment…But Citic Plaza…it’s not that hard to find.

The restaurant was fairly small in Chinese standards and on that weekday evening it wasn’t very crowded either. The atmosphere was quite all right but I was a little peeved that the table next to us was producing an unpleasant amount of cigarette smoke; I hate smoke.

Anyways, on to the food. First, tea was served. Their tea cups here are quite unique, as can be seen by the photos. However, I think it only had an aesthetic appeal, as the taste of the tea wasn’t enhanced in any way.

Then came two appetizers (which we didn’t order but weren’t free either), salted peanuts and marinated vegetables, suan cai. The peanuts were somewhat unique; instead of simply roasted peanuts crusted with salt these ones had a layer of some other spice added. I can’t remember how they tasted anymore, but there was something different about them…and the suan cai was just suan cai, nothing special.

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October 4, 2009 Posted by | Chinese, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Comments Off on Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza

Dim Sum at Hai Yun Xuan

Hai Yun Xuan
Address: Long Kou Xi Lu, just south of Tian He Bei Lu

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Happy Chinese National Holidays! Yesterday was the PRC’s big 60th anniversary celebration, so we decided to join in the fray by having dim sum at a new restaurant.

Hai Yun Xuan had only recently opened this week. There used to be another restaurant in its place some time ago, and upon entering the main dining hall one can see that they didn’t really change the design of the old establishment. Everything was quite neat and brightly lighted and the morning crowd wasn’t that large.

Like most dim sum restaurants these days, Hai Yun Xuan doesn’t have carts. Instead you have to order from a menu, which is fine with me since my Chinese is getting better!

The first item that came was the Three Colours Bean Cake. It was basically a Chinese water chestnut-cake with the water chestnuts replaced with three different legumes: azuki beans, millet, and something else that I can’t remember. Apart from the aesthetic appeal this dish really wasn’t much; the beans, unlike water chestnuts, provided no texture contrast. I think I would take the traditional water chestnut version over this any day.

The boiled greens served with sweet soy sauce were standard but good.

My parents’ orders, steamed pork offal and steamed beef ribs. My dad said that the beef ribs weren’t good, though he didn’t elaborate.

The shrimp dumplings tasted strange. I don’t think that the shrimp that they used was very fresh…and the stuffing was overly oily. It wasn’t very enjoyable…

Deep-fried shrimp rolls. I didn’t try these as I don’t like the thought of eating deep-fried foods.

So far, the meal hasn’t been going that well, and unfortunately it gets worse.

When the beancurd rolls came, we thought that they tasted strange. The flavours were there, but there was something wrong with the texture…at the end of our meal, when I tried another bite, we realized that the pork inside was RAW. RAW PORK. My goodness. Certainly not good publicity during a swine flu scare. I felt pretty nauseated after realizing that…it was probably just a mental thing and I don’t think I’ll be getting sick but still…RAW pork??!

However, the last item that came, the sweet buns, were quite decent. They had a flaky crust on the top and some form of gooey, sweet stuff as filling. I couldn’t figure out what it was, probably just sugar syrup or something common, but it accompanied the soft bun quite well, even though it got a bit too sweet at the end.

At the end we spoke with the manager about the pork and they took that item off our bill. The total cost came up to 100 something RMB, which is quite cheap. But still, the thought of that raw pork plus the other fairly mediocre dishes probably won’t get me coming back again anytime soon.

Oh, and before we left the restaurant we sat back for a while watching the beginning of the huge military parade show hosted in Beijing in celebration of the 60th anniversary. President Hu Jin Tao poked his head out of his limousine shouting, “Greetings comrades! You must be tired!” to the troops and troops of soldiers lined along the two sides of ChangAn Ave. in front of Tian An Men Square. When we got home my parents sat for two hours in front of the TV watching that military parade. Lol.

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Breakfast, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Leave a comment

37.2 Degrees Bistro

37.2 Degrees Bistro
Address: G/F, No. 29, Tian Shou Lu, Tian He, Guangzhou
Telephone: 020-38324725

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Quite a while ago a few friends and I went to 37.2 Degrees Bistro to get cake.

The restaurant, even though it has two floors, is quite small. When we got there at around six the place was already starting to crowd up so I guess it is quite popular. I hear that the food there is quite good, but during our stay we only sampled the cakes.

They display their selection of cakes at a counter on the first floor. I selected the Napoleon cake, which consisted of flaky pastry, cream, nuts and fruits nestled in multiple layers. The taste of the cake was all right, but I must say that it was such a pain to eat! They only provided us with this tiny tea forks with which it was impossible to spear through a slice of the Napoleon cake. I ended up making quite a mess and had to eventually dissect the cake layer by layer, which sort of defeated its purpose.

My companions ordered the New York cheesecake and the mixed nuts cheesecake. Both were very good and both tasted quite similar. They were nice, dense, creamy cheesecakes, very much unlike the one that I had at Angel Simple. So if you’re ever in the mood for authentic cheesecake, this place may hit the spot.

Mixed Nuts Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Desserts, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , , | Leave a comment

Honeymoon Dessert

Honeymoon Desserts
Address: Shop 103, G/F, Up Tower; #182 Bei Jing Lu; YueXiu District; GuangZhou; PRC
Website: http://www.honeymoon-dessert.com/en_us/

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I realize that Honeymoon Desserts is the name of the dessert place that I encountered in Hong Kong at Times Square. Recently I also learned that they have branches in Guangzhou! So one day, while at Beijing Lu, we decided to go and give the place a try.

The restaurant here was very HK style aka cramped and expensive. They have items that cost upwards of 60RMB! Well, we stuck with their less pricey selections.

This is the purple glutinuous rice with almond milk. Here their glutinuous rice was a little different; they omitted the taro chunks and added corn. It still tasted all right, though I did want the big chunks of taro. The almond milk tasted weird…artificial, almost. Or maybe it was just because I am not used to the taste of almond extract. I also wished that they had added crushed ice into the almond milk as that would have made it more refreshing.

We also had the red bean soup with jelly. I think there was a choice between hot and cold and we chose the cold variety. I didn’t really like this dessert. THe jelly was tasteless, absolutely tasteless, and the red bean soup…I don’t know why, but I’ve never enjoyed red bean soup that isn’t home made. It’s got this strange aftertaste that isn’t present when you make the dessert at home…Maybe they’re adding something that we aren’t…I guess I’m just not used to the taste.

Even though we didn’t greatly enjoy the items that we ordered, I don’t think that that is a fair reflection of their desserts. I think we’ll have to return and try their other items in order to make a better judgment.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Desserts, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Leave a comment

Dim Sum at Guangzhou Restaurant

Guangzhou Restaurant
Address: No.112, Tiyu Road (East), Tianhe District, Guangzhou

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A few weeks ago we got up fairly late on a Saturday morning and decided to head to Guangzhou Restaurant in Tian He for dim sum.

Guangzhou Restaurant is one of the most famous and popular restaurants in the city. In fact, they’ve been so successful that they now have branches in other countries. As a result the place was invariably busy when we got there, even though their immense establishment stretched two whole floors of the building. However, we only had to wait for about 10 minutes before getting a table.

Dim sum at Guangzhou Restaurant is served menu-style; there are no carts wheeling the food around. That is understandable, I suppose, especially with an establishment this big. Their menu here is pretty large…to order, each table is provided with a pencil and diners have to check off the items that they want.

We ordered a total of ten items that day. It was quite a lot. Firstly came the BBQ pork buns. The buns here are very good, light and fluffy, and the filling inside has the right combination of sweet and salty. However, I have heard from somewhere that that nice glean that they have on the buns is a result of MSG brushed on top. Don’t know, but it tasted pretty good.

For such a huge and busy restaurant, service was very fast. Food started coming about 5 minutes after we placed our order. After the BBQ buns came the various beef innards with turnip. I never try this stuff anymore, though I used to as a kid. Tripe is just chewy…all the flavour really comes from the soy sauce that the ingredients are boiled it.

We also ordered steamed spareribs over taro, another dish that I don’t eat anymore. I did eat some of the taro, which was overcooked.

Whenever we go yum cha we always have to have a dish of boiled vegetables. I love boiled vegetables, but these were a tad too oily.

The panfried pork chive dumplings were decent. They weren’t amazing but certainly passable. The filling inside included pork, chives, and waterchesnuts, which provided a nice texture contrast.

I was a little fearful when ordering the xiao long bao because I’ve never had a decent xiao long bao with soup in Guangzhou! They always come around soupless and more like regular dumplings. However, these ones at Guangzhou Restaurant were different: they actually had soup inside! I was quite happy. Even though the filling wasn’t all that flavourful and the dough was a little thick, especially at the seams, the soup made up for it.

Since my favourite foods are bread and vegetables, I ordered the panfried spinach bun with pork. These were quite good; the bun was nice and fluffy with a nice sear at the top and bottom providing texture contrast, and the filling inside was quite flavourful.

The last item to come was the steamed vegetarian dumplings. These were glutinuous flour dumplings filled with peanuts, water chestnuts, and some other non-meat ingredients and then steamed on tofu skins. They were all right. The filling had flavour and contrast but the dough was way too thick and chewy…

And that concludes our dim sum meal! The price came up to 200 something RMB, which is decent for the quantity and quality. However, one overall aspect that I did not enjoy was the oiliness of all the foods; I walked out with a highly unpleasant sensation on my tongue as a result of all that oil. I guess they need to cut back on the fat.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Breakfast, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Leave a comment

Food Adventure in Tian He

All around Tian He

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Last week, after a super stressful few days, I decided that it was time unwind by…exploring and eating! So in the evening I headed out to Tian He.

My first stop was at Bread Papa’s on the 2nd floor of Grandview Mall. Bread Papa has come quite a long way; I remember getting a cream puff back when they opened their first store in Guangzhou at Grandview back in 2005 or 2006. Back then they only had one option on the menu! Now they have so many choices and they’ve opened so many stores all around China…

My feelings are quite mixed about Bread Papa. I would never rave about their cream puffs for they’re not that good, but I guess they do hit the spot it you ever get a craving for cream puffs. Bread Papa’s cream puffs are pretty big and filled right up with sweet custard-like cream. They bake their pastry right on location so it is fairly fresh. However, the one that I had had evidently been sitting around for a while for it was somewhat dry. Cream puffs are also somewhat messy to eat…I ended up with powdered sugar and filling all over my fingers.

After my cream puff fix I decided that I wanted cake. So I headed out to a bakery that I’d never tried before called Angel Simple. I had passed by the place a few times before and they have a large selection of cheesecakes so I decided that it was time to go and give them a try. Like Bread Papa, Angel Simple is a chain store that is fairly new on the Guangzhou food market; it wasn’t around till only a few years back.

After taking quite some time feasting my eyes on their large selection of cakes, I settled with the green tea cheesecake. Bad choice. The cake certainly looked promising, but it didn’t taste like cheesecake at all. It was light and airy, more like cream cheese whipped with cream…I guess it is an Asian thing, since dense, strong cakes aren’t favoured in this part of the world. The flavour of the green tea, however, was very subtle, almost too subtle to be noticeable. In the end the artificial flavours just became too much and I didn’t manage to finish the cake, even though the slice was fairly small…So, the credo is that if you like American cheesecake, don’t get your cake fix from a Chinese bakery.

After all that sugary stuff I wanted something salty. So I headed down to Festival Walk, the underground mall east of Teemall, and got some fried octopus balls (takoyaki) from one of the stalls.

I actually really liked this snack. For 6 RMB you get six takoyaki freshly made to order smothered with mayo and some brown sauce and sprinkled with dried fish flakes. The takoyaki itself didn’t have great flavour but it tasted good with the condiments. However there was a bit too much brown sauce, which was somewhat overpowering. I also do wish that the takoyaki had a crispier exterior as that would contrast with the soft centre quite well.

By the time I finished the takoyaki I was very full. However, I was determined to have some frozen yogurt before calling it a day. I headed over to Dolciberry, also located in Festival Walk. It seems like one of the few places in Guangzhou where one can find frozen yogurt. They’ve opened fairly recently and don’t have many flavours, only original tart and a “monthly special” which for at least the past two months has been mango. For 18 RMB you can get a small cup with one topping. I got the mango yogurt with pineapple topping.

The topping was canned pineapple, nothing special at all, but the mango yogurt was pretty good. It didn’t really have that yogurt-like taste that original tart has and which I don’t like all that much. However, it was really too much food for me so I left over half of it unfinished.

After stuffing myself I somehow did managed to hobble myself back home. Ah, it was a good evening.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Guangzhou, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Korean Restaurant at Teemall

Location: 5th floor, Teemall

Sorry about the lack of location for this review. I totally forgot to take a business card when I left so now I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. It’s not on the Teemall website either…however, no worries, you aren’t missing much by avoiding this place.

So yesterday, my dad and I decided to head to lunch at one of the restaurants on the 5th floor at Teemall after some shopping. I should have known that it was a bad move since most restaurants in these big name shopping centres are pretty mediocre but for convenience’s sake we went anyways.

We choose a rather non-descript Korean restaurant located in a corner next to the large food court with Cafe de Coral and what-not. It was a fairly small restaurant compared to the ones surrounding it, and there wasn’t a lot of people when we got there at around noon.

We got seated and they served us rice tea, which was pretty good. It had that nice burnt-rice flavour.


After we placed our orders they served us the banchan. There were five types: boiled baby bak choy (which I forgot to take a photo of but you can probably imagine how it looks like), liver, kimchi, white fungus, and these fried sugary crisps. The bak choy was just boiled bak choy, nothing special at all. The liver was marinated in spicy oil…I didn’t taste any. The kimchi was average. The white fungus was interesting; it had this sweet-sour taste to it. Never had fungus like that before. And the sugar crisps…didn’t taste any either.

Very soon our entrees came. I ordered a traditional dolsot bibimbap and my dad ordered a dolsot bibimbap with fish roe. Our orders came with kimchi soup and gochujang, the red pepper paste with which you mix into the rice.

Dolsot bibimbap; Sorry, I mixed it before remembering to take a photo…I need to get better at this…

Fish roe bibimbap

Kimchi soup

Frankly put, the bibimbaps were terrible. The ingredients weren’t very fresh. The rice was dry and the egg yolk on my dolsot bibimbap had a thin dry crust on it, clearly indicating that it’s been sitting around for a while. They also didn’t heat the stone pots up long enough so the rice formed absolutely no crust on the sides of the bowl. That, in my opinion, totally defeats the purpose of stone pot rice. I sent my order back to be reheated but even so not much crust was formed due to the looseness of the rice. Terrible.

We also ordered a Three Colours Vegetable Salad that I again forgot to take a photo of. But really it was just boiled bean sprouts, greens, and a twiggy vegetable that I don’t know the name of. Very mediocre.

It was a very disappointing meal, and the prices weren’t cheap either. The bibimbaps costed 48 and 58 RMB and the Three Colours Vegetable Salad costed 36 RMB. The lesson of the day: don’t eat here!

September 13, 2009 Posted by | Guangzhou, Korean, Restaurants | , , | Leave a comment