What you need to know about Guangzhou
By Cao Bing from Asia Today
03:40

"Eat in Guangzhou" is a distinct reputation earned by the southern China gourmet city. Guangzhou tood, also widely known as Cantonese cuisine, has a long history and is one of the eight Chinese culinary traditions.

Cantonese food tends to be mild, fresh, natural, and slightly sweet. This type of cuisine aims to preserve and bring out the original flavor of the ingredients.

The most representative dishes include Cantonese style fried rice, steamed egg, steamed spare ribs with fermented black beans and chili pepper, white boiled shrimp, beef chow fun and rice noodles.

A tasty Guangzhou dish. /VCG Photo

A tasty Guangzhou dish. /VCG Photo

One of the most widely known Cantonese foods might be dim sum – small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates usually served with tea. 

The Cantonese style is different from the dim sum that appears outside China as a dish for lunch or dinner and is one of the most popular types of breakfast in the city. Elderly people like to read the newspaper while sipping on tea and eating dim sum.

The tradition of having endless cups of tea and dim sum is also called “yum cha,” in local dialect which actually means "drink tea".

It also showcases a very leisurely and slow-paced lifestyle for local people.

Dim sum of Guangdong food. /VCG Photo

Dim sum of Guangdong food. /VCG Photo

A style of Guangzhou

The word dim sum itself is an original way of saying the cuisine in the local dialect – Cantonese, a variety of Chinese spoken in Guangzhou and nearby areas.

It is also the dominant and official language of Hong Kong and Macau. Meanwhile, the language is widely used among overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia. Currently, it is spoken by about 80 million people, the same as the population of Germany.

Performers participate in Cantonese opera on stage. /VCG Photo

Performers participate in Cantonese opera on stage. /VCG Photo

Although Mandarin is today the more commonly used Chinese languages, Cantonese still thrives. Currently, it is the language of a few state television and radio broadcasts in the region today. Cantonese song and drama are very popular around the whole nation.

What is unique about Cantonese culture is that Cantonese has its own opera called Cantonese opera, which is a form of Chinese opera that tells stories from Chinese history and myth, in a special tone.

A walk in Guangzhou

Architecture styles vary a lot depending on the location and the lifestyle in a city.

If you take a walk around Guangzhou, you may find old streets with very impressive corridors, like the Qilou building, or arcade houses.

A picture of Qilou buildings in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province. /VCG Photo

A picture of Qilou buildings in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province. /VCG Photo

Most of the Qilou buildings in Guangzhou are of three or four stories, with an arcade, stretching above from the second story over the sidewalk. These arcades are linked together by the side of the street, forming a shaded corridor. Some extend for even hundreds of dozens of meters. This is because the weather of Guangzhou is always changing and the arcades could shelter pedestrians from the scorching sun and rain.

Food, language and architecture are shaping the character of a tolerant and free city, but much more could be found if one stays longer here.