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Guilin's central location in Ling Nan has given it a cuisine that is influenced by the food of Canton, Sichuan, Hunan, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Fujian. In recent years, however, Sichuan and Cantonese dishes have become the most popular. The development of tourism, too, has had an effect on eating habits, as local snack foods are enjoyed by tourists from around the world.
Among the more popular of these local snacks are Guilin rice noodles (mifen), nun noodles, chestnut glutinous rice dumplings (banli zong), stewed duck with gingko, lotus-leaf duck, and stewed duck with ginger. Some of the specialties of the region are described below.
Stewed duck with gingko is a traditional dish thought to be a remedy for lung problems. Gingko, cubes of duck meat, ham slices, and other ingredients are steamed in braising cups. The result is light but savory soup in which the tender duck meat contrasts pleasantly with the smooth, slightly slimy texture of the gingko.
Lipu taro pork is made up of Lipu taro, pork, Guilin preserved bean curd, and various other ingredients. The pork and taro cubes are fried separately and then steamed together, so each piece is golden on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. Health benefits of this dish include extinguishing any "fire" (inflammation) in your body and improving your complexion.
Stewed clams and chicken is an award-winning dish of the region. A chicken, a pair of clams, preserved longan, and slices of ham are stewed with other ingredients in a covered porcelain pot for two hours. This mellow-flavored dish has many healthful benefits.
Lo Han boiled chicken, as the name implies, is steamed with traditional Chinese herb like Lo Han Kuo, astragalus, and codeonopsis pilosula. This refreshing soup can help to lower blood pressure.
Fried chicken with water chestnut uses Guilin water chestnut, quality chicken, fresh mushrooms, and other special ingredients. This dish is delicious and beautiful as well.
Duck wrapped in lotus leaf is very tasty and healthful. First, the duck is fried to a golden brown. Then cubes of lean pork, bamboo shoot, ham, taro, and mushroom; green beans; and shrimp are stir-fried with seasonings and stuffed into the duck, which is then wrapped with a lotus leaf and steamed. The unique fragrance of the lotus leaf permeates the tender duck meat, making this dish especially delicious.
Steamed pork with rice flour wrapped in lotus leaf is a traditional homemade dish. The pork is boiled and then stir-fried with soybean sauce, dipped into mung bean flour, wrapped in a lotus leaf, and steamed. The dish is rich but not greasy and helps to lower cholesterol.
Fried meat floss with sweet-scented osmanthus is a good appetizer with a glass of wine. The pleasant scent of osmanthus is the highlight of this dish.
Sour fried dried fish. Dried fish is smoked with fruit peels and then dried in the sun. The dried fish is stir-fried with preserved pepper and bamboo shoots and then boiled in Sanhua wine and water. The resulting re-hydrated fish is served with spicy condiments such as garlic sprouts. This dish is a mouthwatering combination of spicy and sour.
Another popular dish is fried pork with pommelo rind. The sweet/tart rind goes well with pork.
In addition, homemade dishes like fried beef with bamboo shoot and steamed, minced pork with water chestnut are also worth tasting.
Other well-known rice-noodle eateries include: Youyi Xuan, located at Jie Fang West Road;
Nun noodles are said to have been created by a nun in Yueya Hill. The soup for this noodle dish is boiled with bean sprouts, fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms, and bamboo shoots until it turns golden. The soup is then poured over the noodles, vegetables, and seasonings. The best place to eat Nun noodles is at Yueya Lou in Qixing Park.
Glutinous rice is widely used. It can be made into ciba (rice paste), tangyuan (rice flour dumplings), nuo mi fan (rice dumplings), and zongzi (glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in a bamboo leaf). The stuffing varies, and may include sweetened bean paste. sesame powder, water chestnut powder, chestnut, lotus seed paste, peanuts, meat, or preserved ham.
Zhutongfan (bamboo-cooked rice) and youcha (oil tea) are two ethnic delicacies that are definitely worth trying.
For your reference, the following are the restaurants rated most popular by the locals:
Guilin Bravo Hotel Restaurant
Tong Lai Guan
Lao Xiang Qin Restaurant
Guilin Ren Chain Restaurant
Hao Da Ma Cate Square
For western food lovers, the following western restaurants are good choices:
Guilin Ren Western Restaurant