A long-run­ning and de­li­cious so­cial tra­di­tion

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By YANG FEIYUE in Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn By YANG FEIYUE in Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Golden crab gravy oozes from the tops of buns stuffed with crab meat, while other dim sum treats are burst­ing with pork, soup or shock­ing green bits of a lo­cal plant called bur clover.

A visit to Guyuelou restau­rant of­fers a glimpse into the long-pre­served morn­ing tea cul­ture in­Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

One of the most pop­u­lar restau­rants among the lo­cals, it’s tucked away in the Old Street scenic spot, in a line of shops of­fer­ing the fa­vorite snacks of the area.

Guyuelou’s pub­lic din­ing room is filled with cus­tomers early in the morn­ing. Al­most all of the big, round ta­bles are taken. Guests are lin­ing up at the counter, where gi­ant bam­boo steam­ers are piled high, with white steam es­cap­ing from the gaps be­tween the steam­ers.

Most cus­tomers are here to en­joy the morn­ing tea rit­ual, which fea­tures a cup of tea and dozens of lo­cal dim sum of­fer­ings.

The diner re­ceives at least 2,000 vis­i­tors a day, and it is busiest at break­fast time.

“Most of our cus­tomers are lo­cals who live nearby but the num­ber Golden of crab tourists gravy surges oozes dur­ing from the high tops days of and buns hol­i­days,”stuffed with says crab Hu meat, Yanyang, while who other runs dim Guyuelou.sum treats are burst­ing Dried with bean-cur­d­pork, soup threads,or shock­ing fish green­soup bits noodleof a lo­ca­land plantcrab called­buns bu­rare clover.called the “three trea­sures of the morn­ingA visit to tea” Guyuelouand are restau­rant­the most of­fers pop­u­lara glimpse­orders. into the long-pre­served The rit­ual morningis: Drink­tea cul­turetea first, in thenTaizhou, eat a Jiangsu sea­sonal prov­ince.cold dish, dried bean­cur­dOne of the threads,most pop­u­lardim sum, restau­rants and fin­ish among­with fish the soup lo­cals, noodle.it’s tucked away The in tea the Old col­lec­tionStreet scenic com­prises spot, in Longjing,a line of shops Bilu­ochun,of­fer­ing the Baicha,fa­vorite snack­sPu’er andof the Tieguanyin.area.

Guyuelou’sWe opt for Tieguanyin,pub­lic din­ing which room is is fresh filled with with a cus­tomer­srich, lush early fla­vor. in Thethe morn­ing.name lit­er­ally Al­most meansall of the “Iron­big, round God­dess ta­bles ofMercy”,are taken. and Guests there are are dif­fer­entlin­ing up at leg­end­s­the counter, be­hind wherethe tea, gi­anta prized­bam­boo oo­long steam­ers­black tea are from piled Fu­jian high, province­with white that steam re­quires es­cap­ing more from than the a gaps dozen be­tween­steps to the pro­duce. steam­ers. Rich in health­pro­mot­ing Most cus­tomers anti-ox­i­dants,are here to the en­joytea the has morn­inga flo­ral aro­matea rit­ual,and a which sooth­ingfea­tures min­er­al­itya cup of on tea the and palate. dozens of lo­cal dim The sum first of­fer­ings.cold dish we choose is a dish The made diner of re­ceives­lo­cal eels,at least which 2,000are vis­i­tors deep-frieda day, but and re­tainit is a busiest re­silien­tat break­fast­tex­ture. Only time. pep­per and salt are added “Most be­foreof our fry­ing. cus­tomers are lo­cals who Next live comes nearby the but the dried num­ber bean of curd, tourists which surges of­fers duringa flashy high demon­stra­tion­days and hol­i­days,” of saysthe Hu chef’s Yanyang, ex­traor­di­nary­who runs Guyuelou. chop­ping skills. Con­sis­tent­lyDried bean-curd thin threads, shreds fishof souptofu noodle­and ginger,and crab chopped-up­buns are calle­dred pep­perthe “three and trea­sure­s­pork, andof the Chi­nese morn­ing pars­ley tea” and are (co­rian­der)the most pop­u­lar are or­ders. nicely ar­rangedThe rit­ual in is:a bowl; Drink we tea are first, urgedthen eatto adda sea­son­ala spoon­ful­cold dish,of se­cret-recipedried bean­curd gravy threads,be­fore tast­ingdim sum, the and mix­ture. fin­ish with­The fish tofu soup shreds noodle. are ten­der and taste The like tea soft col­lec­tion noo­dles. com­prises Longjing,There is Bilu­ochun,a wide range Baicha, of Pu’er dim and sum, Tieguanyin.in­clud­ing buns stuffed with crab We meatopt for or Tieguanyin,soup, pork, which and is a freshlo­cal plantwith bura rich, clover. lush fla­vor. The name The lit­er­al­ly­crab and means pork “Iron fla­vors God­dess­com­ple­ment of Mercy”, eac­hand there other, are and dif­fer­ent­the buns le­gends be­hind the tea, a prized oo­long black tea from Fu­jian prov­ince that re­quires more than a dozen steps to pro­duce. Rich in health-pro­mot­ing anti-ox­i­dants, the tea has a flo­ral aroma and a sooth­ing min­er­al­ity on the palate.

The first cold dish we choose is a dish made of lo­cal eels, which are deep-fried but re­tain a re­silient tex­ture. Only pep­per and salt are added be­fore fry­ing.

Next comes the dried bean curd, which of­fers a flashy demon­stra­tion of the chef’s ex­tra­or­di­nary chop­ping skills. Con­sis­tently thin shreds of tofu and ginger, chopped-up red pep­per and pork, and Chi­nese pars­ley (co­rian­der) are nicely ar­ranged in of­fera bowl;a we lusher­are urged taste to com­paredadd a spoon­fulto their of se­cret-recipesi­b­lings, the gravy­crab soup be­fore buns, tast­ing which the are mix­ture.a treat Theto the tofu eye. shreds are ten­derThe and buns taste­sit flat-bot­tomed­like soft noo­dles. on a tray, There with is crepe-thina wide range wrap­per­sof dim filled sum, with in­clud­ingcrab soup. buns One stuffed bite with opens crabthe door meat or to soup, fresh pork, soup, and witha lo­cal bits plan­tand pieces­bur clover.of de­li­cious crab meat.

The bur-clover buns seem to re­de­fine “green”. I don’t re­mem­ber see­ing any­thing greener than this stuff­ing, which is sur­pris­ingly smooth in the mouth. Bur clover is a good source of pro­tein; it is very sim­i­lar to al­falfa but there is less fiber and some­what more fat and pro­tein. The plant is a for­age crop in the United States, and it is wide­lyThe crab plantedand porkin the fla­vors West com­ple­men­tas a cover each crop other,to re­plen­is­hand the buns nutrients offer in a lusher soils, taste es­pe­cially com­pared on to their or­ganic sib­lings, farms. the crab soup buns, which are a treatAll theto the buns eye. have a soft yet springyThe buns wrap­per­sit flat-bot­tomedthat is slight­lyon a chewy.tray, with Don’t crepe-thin worry wrap­per­sif you filledfind the­se­with crab buns soup.to be Onea bite lit­tle opens cloy­ing. the One door sipto freshof the soup, Longjing­with bit­stea and­will im­me­di­ate­ly­p­ieces of de­li­cious off­set crab the meat. rel­a­tive greasi­ness.The bur-clover buns seem to re­de­fine The “green”.fish I soup don’t re­mem­ber­noo­dle’s sim­ple see­ing ap­pear­anceany­thing greener be­lies than the this hard stuff­ing,work in­volved.which is sur­pris­ing­lyFresh wild smooth cru­cianin the carps mouth. are Bur first clover friedis a with good ginger, source onionof pro­tein; and it is pep­per­very sim­i­lar be­fore to al­fal­fabeing stewed­but there withis less eel fiber and and pig some­what­bones for a more cou­ple­fat andof pro­tein.hours. The The plant soup is is a sweet for­age crop and in with­the Uniteda pleas­ant States, fish and aroma.it is widely planted in the West as a cover “The crop morn­ingto re­plen­ish tea nutrients tra­di­tion in re­flectssoils, es­pe­cial­lythe lo­cals’on or­ganic pur­suit farms. of a qual­i­tyAll the life buns and have healtha soft yet preser­va­tion,” springy wrap­per Hu that says. is slightly chewy. Don’t worry Someif youof the find morn­ing-teathese buns restau­rantsto be a lit­tle cloy­ing.in the One Old sip Streetof the area Longjing­have pre­servedtea will im­me­di­ately storytelling off­set per­for­mances,the rel­a­tive greasi­ness.of­fer­ing vis­i­tors a taste of the old The leisure­ly­fish sou­plife. noodle’s sim­ple ap­pear­anceNor­mally the be­lies tea the break­fasthard work­lasts till in­volved.10 am Fre­shat Guyuelou,wild cru­cian­but the carp­srestau­rant are first fried­can of­fer­with ginger,the treat onion late andin the pep­per day be­fore­for vis­i­tors be­ing from stewed afar. with eel and pig bones for a cou­ple of hours. The soup is sweet and with a pleas­ant fish aroma.

“The morn­ing tea tra­di­tion re­flects the lo­cals’ pur­suit of a qual­ity life and health preser­va­tion,” Hu says.

Some of the morn­ing-tea restau­rants in the Old Street area have pre­served storytelling per­for­mances, of­fer­ing vis­i­tors a taste of the old leisurely life.

Nor­mally the tea break­fast lasts till 10 am at Guyuelou, but the restau­rant can offer the treat late in the day for vis­i­tors from afar.

Guyuelou

100 Old Street, Hail­ing dis­trict, Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince. 523-8615-7777

PHO­TOS BY YANG FEIYUE / CHINA DAILY PHO­TOS BY YANG FEIYUE / CHINA DAILY

Guyuelou restau­rant fea­tur­ing a cup of tea and dozens of lo­cal dim sum of­fer­ings gives a glimpse into the morn­ing tea cul­ture in Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince. Guyuelou restau­rant fea­tur­ing a cup of tea Guyuelouand dozens of lo­cal dim sum of­fer­ings gives a dlimpse into the morn­ing tea 100 cul­tureOld Street,in Taizhou, Hail­ing Jiangsu dis­trict, prov­ince. Taizhou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

523-8615-7777.

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