The western side of Changsha was once a cowboy town – the congregation of the new immigrants into the city, with lots of hostels and BnB. With the relocation of Hunan Media Group and the film studios to that part of the city, the place experienced a boom in recent times. Especially when 7 of the top 10 TV programs were made there, the township had become a little of LA of sorts, with extras and stars wannabe congregating in the hostels and BnB. Of course the stars (and everyone else) need a proper place to have a meal. And then XiHuLou was founded. Starting with only a 20 seater, this place has grown. It is currently the Largest Restaurant in the World, both in floor size and number of customers it can serve at any one time.
The place looked like the forbidden city. The entrance was a typical ancient city gate and as you walked into the compound, you can see photos film stars, directors, politician, sport stars and any who’s who that had been to the studios for filming and stopping by for a meal.
Of course with all the space, you can get a special suite for one. And there’s no minimum spend to get the privacy.
Started with a hot soup for a cold evening. Buddha Jumped Over the Wall 佛跳牆 got its name because of the fragrance of this soup would made a buddha jumped over the wall to have a taste. Unlike the variety we get in Singapore or HK, this one was made like the Taiwanese version, simple, down-to-earth ingredients cooked in a think chicken/pork/seafood broth.
Loved it or loathed it, there’s no middle ground. I loved this dish so much that I ordered it for lunch and dinner, 3 days in a row.
Wanton or dumpling, depending on where you were from. This one was filled with minced pork, cabbage and chives. OK, but not outstanding.
I have no idea what this is, but they assured my it wasn’t sweet potato leaf (though it tasted like it).
I loved this dish! Despite the description of the dish, it was not a serving of decomposed fish. The freshwater fish was deep friend and then cooked in the same ingredients as stinky tofu. This made a very unique and strange tasting fish, without any of the fishiness or mud water taste you get from freshwater fish. Highly recommended – no, it did not taste like stinky tofu as well.
One of the delicacy of Hunan is donkey meat. It was a very gamey meat, and I had this many times. And every time I had this, I told myself it would be my last. And every time I went into a Hunan restaurant, I ordered it again. Sigh.
Looking through the menu was already a pain. There were over 200 different dishes to choose from. Depending on the zone you were sitting, the dishes were prepared in one of the 4 central kitchens and you didn’t need to wait more than 15-30 mins for the dishes to be ready. How I knew about this? CNN did a special program about the restaurant recently.
Well, the restaurant did not pull any punches for letting you know they are the biggest in the world!
Changsha, Hunan, China