Donkey Hotpot

There is an incredible range of food available in Yangshuo. Because of the high numbers of tourists that visit the town there are many restaurants that have Western menus with foods like pizza, pasta, and steak. There are also many upmarket Chinese restaurants to choose from as well. Along side these more expensive options are an equal number of cheap small eateries and BBQ stalls – anything and everything that you could imagine on a stick. There is also a huge open air market which is set up each evening, with about 20 stalls and heaps of tables under big colourful umbrellas. Each stall has tressle tables displaying live and fresh food which is cooked on the spot. Food is a huge part of Chinese culture and people here seem to either be either eating or talking about eating most of the time.

Yangshuo boasts several local specialty dishes. Beer Fish was one such dish that sparked our interest, as the name combined two of our favourite flavours. This is fish (usually carp) stir-fried with vegetables in a sauce composed mainly of beer and it tastes as good as it sounds! We went to the Yangshuo night market for this delicacy and selected our fish from a small plastic tub. The fish was put in a plastic bag where it flopped around on the street whilst we haggled on its price. There was so much fresh chili being cooked at the night market that you could taste it when you inhaled.

Our next taste of Yangshuo delicacy was a little more exotic - Donkey Hotpot! Hotpot is a common way of dining in China. It involves a large pot of stock in the middle of the table which is kept boiling on a hotplate. The restaurant brings out different types of raw meat and vegetables and everything gets thrown in and stirred around by the diners. Several different dishes of food will be cooked in the same stock. Donkey sounded a bit strange at first but proved to be surprisingly delicious as our students assured us it would.

Other delicacies that seems to be universal in all of China is Chicken/Duck feet. This one we haven’t tried. We also haven't eaten dog (to the best of our knowledge), and don't intend to.

We are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays at the school which makes life very easy. Food has generally been really good but there are a few negatives. Everything seems to be cooked in excessive amounts of oil and the Chinese concept of “meat” is more akin to “diced animal” - bones, fat, intestines and sometimes the odd piece of flesh.

We have discovered a great little eatery down the road from the school. For less than $2 we can get 2 huge plates of freshly stir-fried vegetables and omelette.

A few things that you can’t get here unless you mortgage your house are cheese, cereal and margarine. So much of the food here is ridiculously sweet, particularly the bread. Breakfast is normally a bowl of noodle soup and some fried bread or pork buns.

We have been invited out for meals many times by the school and students and we discovered that in China the bill is not split and the “host” will pay the entire bill. Interestingly, quite a few restaurants have private rooms for dining groups.

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