LouWaiLou 西湖樓外樓 @ Hangzhou

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Visited in Oct 2016

LouWaiLou literally translated as the Building upon Building, which described the beautiful architecture in West Lake. This is the best place to taste the typical cuisines of Hangzhou when viewing the fantastic view of West Lake Scenic Area.

山外青山樓外樓

The name of the restaurant came from an ancient political poem that exudes the beauty of West Lake in Hangzhou. The view was beautiful, the atmosphere great, one became intoxicated that you forgot that you had just lost the capital city to the invading Jin army (just before the Mongolian invasion of China).

Ironically, Hangzhou just hosted the G20 meeting where China put up the greatest show for the leaders of the free world (and Singapore’s LHL was invited as Observer). The city was in its best, roads were repaved, the lake cleaned up, and everyone put on their best behaviours.

Hangzhou Famous Dishes

Hangzhou cuisine is one of the Eight Major Cuisines in China, belonging to the Zhejiang style of cooking. Zhejiang cuisine emphasis is on the freshness of the river catch and a serious knife work. Hangzhou builds on the foundations and put layers of flavours and textures to work using the simplest of ingredients.

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宋嫂魚羹

Aunt Song’s Fish Soup is a simple dish. But to get it right, you would need to starve the carp fish that is used for the soup for a few days in order to get rid of its muddy taste as it’s a river fish. The soup base is a chicken stock in whoch the fish borrows the umami. Juliennes of ham, bamboo shoot, shitake mushroom complete the dish. LouWaiLou did this perfectly as they have their own fish farm right in front of the restaurant in the West Lake.

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油爆鱔魚蝦仁面

Although the River Eel and Shrimp Noodle is not what they are famous for, but this is a quintessential Hangzhou dish. Again it features two river produce, the eel and shrimp, cooked in hot wok in rapid heat and scalding oil, and then topped with a stock and noodles.

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叫化雞

The Beggar’s Chicken is another of LouWaiLou’s specialty, something that they sold hundreds everyday. A spring chicken is cleaned and marinated in a vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and wine combination with a load of date, chestnuts, lotus seeds, etc, wrapped in paper and lotus leave and baked for hours until the meat just slides off the bones. As its all wrapped in a water tight package, the goodness remains within the wrapping.

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蒓菜湯

Chun Cai is a type of water plant that grows everywhere in Hangzhou, and would almost be a weed. But due to its texture (it coats itself with a gelatine like substance when cooked), it was believed to be beneficial to health, particularly good for replenishing collagen 🙂 Again, the vegetable has no taste. It borrows the taste from other ingredients (ham, pork, chicken stock) that are used to cook the dish.

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松子馬蘭頭

Malatou is another weed like vegetable with a mustardy taste. It is usually served as a cold dish or salad, mixed with sesame oil and pine nuts.

It is really strange for me to order 3 soup in one meal, but these were some dish that I had always wanted to try in this place.

LouWaiLou 樓外樓

30 Gushan Road, Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

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