Any day that starts off with sashimi for breakfast in the Hilton is probably going to be a good day, but on my recent trip to Foshan, I had no idea what a baller day it would become.
I was due to be picked up at 10.30 for a meeting on behalf of Pioneer Media with our local film producer contact “Henry”. We jumped in the car and headed off to I knew not where. After 45 minutes, we stopped to wait for the locations manager whilst Henry grabbed something to eat. The legendary Wallace Fried Chicken of Yongzhou fame. I had a Sprite.
We then headed to the most famous park in Foshan, Bruce Lee park, as the guys would be filming a Bollywood movie here. Henry then departed and I was left with the local locations manager (who did not speak any English), and we carried on checking out places to film at a leisurely pace.
I’d arranged a late check out (4 pm) from the Foshan Hilton, but at about 3.45 things took a turn for the interesting. My Chinese buddy, Longlone said that if I didn’t leave tonight we could go for local Guangdong sashimi and beers. He had me at hello. An extra night was booked and the adventure began. We went to a fun fair, where the rest of the production crew joined (most of whom could speak English).
And on to dinner…
It is said that Guangdong has the best food in China, whilst Shende (a region of Foshan) is the “best of the best”, and we were heading to a restaurant so good it is frequented by famous Chinese actors (who my new buddy happens to know).
The restaurant in question specialized in Shunde sashimi, or Shun de yu sheng. All the fish we had was river fish (including shrimp) and was served as you’d expect, with soy and wasabi. The signature dish was somewhat different. It was a kind of white river fish without a direct English translation saved on a big plate, from where you add oil, salt, sesame seeds, pickled vegetables, coriander, peppers, and spice, before getting hold of your chopsticks and chowing down. I have to say this was one of my weirder sashimi experiences, but the combination of all the flavors for some reason worked in a truly magical way. You really did not miss the wasabi.
The river shrimp though was for me the standout dish. I love raw shrimp, despite the obvious dangers, but it is rare to find it done truly well. Here the trick was to leave the shrimp in ice before adding it to your soy and wasabi mix. A genuine culinary treat.
And then there was the wasabi! Holy mother of god. Chinese wasabi is usually shit, really shit, and I usually have to lay it on very thick. The wasabi in Foshan was some of the strongest I have ever had, and in both the Foshan Hilton and Shun De I ended up doing the “wasabi dance” from overdosing on the stuff. Foshan has amazing wasabi!
Without doubt one of the best meals I have ever had in China, and thus far I have to concur about the legendary food status that Shunde enjoys. And if that was not enough they even had live snakes. The Cantonese will truly eat anything and everything.
The night was finished in perfect fashion singing, playing, and drinking games with pretty ladies at a karaoke.
Foshan, whether you become the Hollywood of southern China, or not, I shall be back.