Living it up in Guangzhou

I earn ok by Chinese standards. So does my husband. We allow ourselves some luxuries in life, like holidays and the odd new piece of clothing (or in my case, new cosmetics) but most of the time we live modestly. Eating out in China is much cheaper than in Europe, especially if you’re dinner consists of zha jiang mian (炸酱面) or fried zhiaozi (dumplings), which in our case-is often, so we eat out quite a bit but when it comes to up-market dining experiences…well, we haven’t had so many of those.

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My typical dinner out

And that’s because proper dining out is as almost as pricey here as it is in UK. Sadly, most of the time the posh restaurants are out of our reach, or rather budget. HOWEVER we are lucky as thanks to one particular cousin we have been able to experience some of the top restaurants in the city. At no cost-I know, life is unfair.

Our latest meeting with OH’s family was arranged in the plush Shangri-La hotel, located in Haizhu district. As it is a fair way away from the area we live in, I have never even seen it before. I consider myself quite knowledgeable when it comes to all things travel (although less these days, too busy with work!) and so naturally have heard fabulous things about this chain but would have never really dreamt of actually staying/eating there.

No, we did not stay the night (I wish!) and so I couldn’t possibly comment on the accommodation side of things but I can confidently say that this hotel most definitely oozes decadence and elegance. Of course it’s a very Chinese kind of elegance but elegance nevertheless. The exterior is a complete puzzle to me – whoever thought of lighting the building with ugly, neon strips has ensured that from the distance this place looks like a Holiday Inn and I’m pretty certain that was not the intention (or was it?).

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The front of the hotel is rather modest by luxurious hotels standards but nicely lit, with plenty of greenery around. The lobby was expectantly plush with lots of gold ornaments, lots of comfy seats and a warm glow throughout. On that memorable night we ate at the Wok TOO Cafe – a Western style buffet, that large hotels are known for. Now, I love the simple and unpretentious food from street-side cafes, I do but when I’m presented with a huge selection of cheeses, meats, desserts, currys etc, I give in immediately. Those hotel buffets are pretty much the only place one can get a nice choice of good cheeses and hams over here. We did not try any of the drinks so can’t comment on them but the food was lovely.

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I tried the pan-fried fois gras, an Indian curry (very spicy, not mild option), roast beef with mash (Sunday roast anyone!?), countless desserts, including macarons, freshly-baked apple crumble and made-to-order pancakes, and pretty much EVERYTHING else that was on offer. Don’t judge me. I don’t get to eat that type of food very often, ok?!. In fact the last time I had such a feast was the last time that same cousin took us to the W Hotel for a similar buffet, which in retrospective, was probably even tastier!

The service was polite and unobtrusive – a major point in China. We ate till our stomachs were so full we could hardly get off the table. My companions focused mainly on the seafood, which they consider the most decadent of the foods available, to me it was just the same as in any other respectable seafood restaurant but each to their own, I say.

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Overall, we had a lovely evening. The standard price per person is somewhere around 500 yuan, which is totally ridiculous, but we managed to find a voucher online (sorry, I don’t know which website was used, perhaps Meituan?), which gave us a discounted price of just over 350 yuan per person. Still expensive but not as heart-attack inducing as the original price. I would say that the Wok TOO Cafe is suitable both for groups and couples so if you want to have a nice evening, enjoying some delicious food (think of those cheeses!) and you don’t mind traveling a bit out of the city centre, Shangri La is a great choice.

 

*This is not a sponsored post. I am merely sharing my experience for those planning to visit/already in Guangzhou.

 

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