5 of the Best Restaurants in Guangzhou

Southern China's biggest city is the spiritual home of Cantonese cuisine, but the best restaurants in Guangzhou serve much more than dim sum

‘I’m so spoilt living in Guangzhou,’ says Wai Zhou, founder of Eating Adventures and a local foodie champion. ‘The cuisine here is the finest in all of China.’ The old Chinese saying ‘Be born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, die in Liuzhou’ suggests that she’s not the only one to think so highly of restaurants in Guangzhou.

Zhou and I are having dinner at Bingsheng Zen Tea House, a cute vegetarian restaurant on the cusp of Xiaogang Park. It’s my third meal in Guangzhou, and the tastiest I’ve had all weekend. Which is quite a statement, given I’ve had lashings of dim sum and cheung fan (a Cantonese delicacy of steamed rice noodle rolls), washed down with all kinds of exotic tea.

Guangzhou – formerly Canton – is the capital of Guangdong province, and the spiritual home of Cantonese cuisine (sorry, Hong Kong). As Guangzhou welcomed its first Michelin Guide at the end of June 2018, it’s finally getting the official recognition it deserves.

And thanks to a high level of domestic migration over the past few decades – some estimates put the number of Chinese from other provinces as high as five million –Guangzhou’s food scene is not just limited to Cantonese cuisine. You’ll find that the city is laced with restaurants serving dishes from provinces as far away as Sichuan and Xinjiang.

Here’s a selection of the best restaurants in Guangzhou.

Bingsheng Zen Tea House

Bingsheng Zen Tea House, one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Guangzhou
Nik Coole

At the main entrance to Xiaogang Park, this vegetarian restaurant serves small plates in cosy private rooms overlooking the park’s trees. There’s a large selection of tea (pu’er, longjing green tea and a tasty apple and date infusion) and mushrooms trussed up in numerous different ways, including fungi-based dishes that look like salt and pepper squid and sweet and sour pork. It’s ideal for a long, lazy weekend lunch.

146 Qianjin Lu, Haizhu

Yu Yue Heen

Four Seasons' Yu Yue Heen, one of the best dim sum restaurants in Guangzhou
Nik Coole

Four Seasons’ dizzying one-Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant overlooks the CBD from the 71st floor of the Guangzhou International Finance Centre. Dishes span classic dim sum – turnip cake, char siu bao, siu mai – as well as seafood dishes and barbecued meats. The signature mango pudding is especially delicious. 

Dian Dou De

Front entrance of Dian Dou De, one of the best traditional xiguan style restaurants in Guangzhou
Nik Coole

Dian Dou De – which means ‘anything is possible’ in Cantonese – has several branches, but the Liwan outpost is the original and the best of its restaurants in Guangzhou. It’s decked out in traditional xiguan style (wooden benches, red lanterns hanging from the ceiling) and its signature dish is its egg tart, which some claim (controversially) is better than those in Macao.

587 Long Jin Zhong Lu, Liwan

Huangsha Aquatic Products Market

Lobster and crab at HuangHua Aquatic Products Market, one of the largest seafood markets and restaurants in Guangzhou and Southern China
Nik Coole

The largest seafood market in southern China, right on the Zhujiang River, is not for the faint-hearted. There are huge Boston crabs, monumental tiger prawns and wrinkled geoducks ready for consumption. Inside the main market building is a selection of restaurants that will cook the fresh seafood you’ve just bought downstairs with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and some garlic.

15 Huangsha Dadao, Liwan

Liwan Mingshijia

Liwan Mingshijia, one of the best traditional Cantonese restaurants in Guangzhou
Nik Coole

Sometimes called Liwan Famous Eatery, this super-traditional Cantonese restaurant on the old town’s Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street serves the fattest dumplings you’ll find anywhere in Guangdong (and on the Chinese mainland). If you’re not here for dumplings, there’s also wonton noodle soup, hand-pulled cheung fan and congee to try. 

99 Dishifu Lu, Liwan

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