Updated: 2011-07-24 13:29
By Ye Jun (China Daily)
Crisp, clean decor makes a comfortable dining environment at Heng Shan Hui Cantonese Cuisine. Shi Yan / for China Daily
Food from the southern province of Guangzhou is among the best-known among Chinese cuisines. Ye Jun tracks down a restaurant that draws the home crowds.
I have been to Heng Shan Hui Cantonese Cuisine several times, and my impression is that it is a nice and comfortable place. But I had no idea how much it would cost, since all my previous visits were treats by friends.
Judging from the clean, chic dcor, I had imagined it would be pretty pricey. The two-floor restaurant uses white as a base color and uses plenty of natural light let in by a wall of windows. The entrance features a small pond, plenty of green plants and a tank of huge ornamental fish. There are both sofas and chairs to sit in, and the table arrangements are very comfortable.
A recent visit proved me wrong about the price. Four of us had a very plentiful dinner for about 500 yuan ($78), and we actually ordered more than we could finish, with two cold dishes, six hot dishes, plus soup, clay pot rice with preserved sausage, and tea. That is rather good value considering the good ambience. It might also help explain why so many Hong Kong people frequent the eatery.
But the food is not flawless, even though most of it is good.
First of all, the daily soup of green bean, chicken and pork tasted natural and smooth. One could tell it has been simmered for a long time from the richness of the soup. The wait staff also made it a point to scoop out the meats and lotus root from the soup as a separate serving on the table.
Cold assorted spinach with vermicelli is a nice starter, but the classic Shanghai-style simmered bran puffs were too loose and sweet.
The suckling pig had crispy golden skin and tender meat, and was accompanied by two saucers of sweet sauce and white sugar for dipping. The plate of pig comes at a reasonable 68 yuan.
But we were disappointed by the Qingyuan free-range chicken, served white-chopped style. At 72 yuan per serving, our most expensive order, it was over-cooked and not as tasty as we expected.
We liked the salt-braised prawn served in a wooden bucket, which was very flavorful. The clay pot braised fish head with ginger and scallion was also well done, with the fish braised so well that some of the bones had become crisp. We could have done with more fish in the pot, though.
Finally, the clay pot rice did not live up to its reputation. The preserved sausage and pork were saltier than we preferred and the rice has not absorbed the fragrance of the meats. And, there was no leaf mustard in it - the signature vegetable of Cantonese clay pots.
Still, the restaurant was apparently well-patronized. I assume most customers come for the good value, and the ambiance. Perhaps I should come back for their dim sum, which is available from 10:30 am-5:30 pm. Dim sum comes with three pieces per helping at lunch, but six pieces per serving at dinner.
Service is pleasant and fast, and the wait staff is considerate. But, one still needs to shout for service during the peak hours, to be heard above the din. The average bill is 100-150 yuan a person. A pot of chrysanthemum tea costs just 3 yuan a person.
IF YOU GO
Daily 10:30 am - 11:30 pm.
21 Xiaoyun Lu, Northern East Third Ring Road,