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The dreamy taste of sour bamboo shoots

Updated: 2012-07-24 13:35
By Huang Feifei and Liu Ce in Liuzhou, Guangxi ( China Daily)

The dreamy taste of sour bamboo shoots

Chen Wei's dream of opening a restaurant chain in Beijing featuring a specialty from his hometown is coming true.

The specialty, called luosifen or rice noodles boiled with snail soup, has become one of the most sought-after dishes in the capital city, after the hit documentary A Bite of China listed sour bamboo shoots, a main ingredient of the dish, as the flavor of Liuzhou, in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

In South China, people put bamboo shoots in a big ceramic jar, with water. Then, they seal the jar. A few weeks later, the bamboo shoots sour and can be used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.

The dreamy taste of sour bamboo shoots

The sour and spicy taste of bamboo shoots complements the mellow and sweet taste of snail soup and rice noodles.

There is a story about luosifen from long ago that tells of a young man who sold rice noodles and a young woman who sold snail soup who set up stalls next to each other in Liuzhou. One day, they had both sold out all their dishes, except for one bowl of rice noodles and one of snail soup. For their own dinner, they decided to add the noodles to the soup and thus luosifen was born.

However, when Chen first introduced the dish to Beijing in 2010, it wasn't popular.

"Few people knew anything about luosifen and couldn't accept the taste. Also, it was hard to rent a property because landlords were worried the dish wouldn't catch on and we couldn't pay their rent," Chen says.

The annual rent of his first 230-square-meter restaurant in Beijing was 1.2 million yuan ($190,000) per year and he had to pay it in advance, plus a 100,000 yuan intermediary fee.

"Thanks to A Bite of China more people came to my restaurant, attracted by luosifen. Moreover, other landlords contacted me and wanted to rent me places to open my restaurants," he says.

Chen is now busy decorating his second restaurant in Beijing.

"My goal is to open 1,000 branches in Beijing," Chen says, adding the number of employees in Liuzhou and the capital has increased from four to 30.

"It's like a dream," Chen says.

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