Because of the distance away from the imperial courts in the old days, and the abundance of resources, Jiangzhe cuisine has become a major force in Chinese culinary influence for centuries. And Hangzhou cuisine one the few that always come to mind.
Founded in Hangzhou in 1900, ZhangShengJi has become one of the major chains of Jiangzhe cuisine besides Grandma’s House. The name of the restuarant came from the founder Mr Zhang Guo Wei, who opened the first restaurant when he was rather young “后生, hou sheng” in Hangzhou speak, and people just called him “Zhang Sheng”.
Distillers grains are a cereal byproduct of the distillation process. Chinese chefs use them to produce a braising liquid that has the fragrance of the wine with a much lower level of alcohol. 精品糟拼 Appetisers in wine is a celebration of such a cooking technique called 糟卤 “braising in distillers grains”. Duck tongue, pig stomach, edamame, shrimps, abalone, cow tongue were soaked in the liquid to be infused with the wine taste. Very appetising.
素鲍鱼 Faux abalone is a typical cold vegetarian dish using gluten. Gluten is flavoured with mushroom sauce and other condiments to produce a close to abalone taste. It is then shaped like one and served chilled. Served with a wasabi soy sauce, it was almost like eating abalone sashimi.
绍酒醉鸡 Drunken chicken is not made with the braising liquid. Instead poached chicken is soaked in Shaoxing yellow wine for a direct transfer of the flavours of Shaoxing to the chicken. Cold chicken is not a western preference, but most of my Western friends loved this cold, drunken chicken.
绍酒虾 Drunken prawns is the same as drunken chicken, but I find the prawn overcooked and hard.
宝塔肉配烧饼 Braised pork with pita is a cuisine that required mastery 功夫菜. A square piece of stewed pork belly is cut 5mm thick along the side inwards until the centre. You can then push the pork upwards to form a pyramid. The stewing sauce is then poured on the pork.
You can then eat the pork on its own or stuffed it in the pita provided to form a Chinese burger 😉
干炸两样 Two fried items featured two types of bean products, bean curd and tofu. Bean curd is the thin layer of curd formed on cooling soy bean milk. These are dried, and in this case, rolled up and deep fried. Stinky tofu is also deep fried, but it has a totally different taste and texture. Both were equally good, but I would prefer the stinky tofu to be more “stinky”.
杭式烩鱼圆 Hangzhou fish ball has been voted as one of the top 10 dishes that would define Hangzhou cuisine. The fish ball is as tender as tofu and cooked in a savoury soup. Almost like our Teochew fish ball, except ours are bouncy, Hangzhou’s is soft like cotton candy.
松子桂鱼 Sweet and sour pine fish, another Hangzhou classic. Executed well here.
红烧肉夹餅 Stewed pork belly with pita is similar to the 宝塔肉配烧饼 Braised pork with pita, the stewing sauce are the same. Here the pork belly was cooked in the sauce and just cut into pieces. Can be eaten with the pita as well.
上汤菠菜 Spinach in stock. Enough said. Overcooked.
Noodles and Dessert
虾爆鳝面 Shrimp and eel noodles was one of my favourite dish from Hangzhou. I love eel, and to used it as an ingredient in a soup noodle, locally referred as 浇头 “jiao you”, was one of the ways I loved to eat eel by. The noodle was al dente, soup was a bit too oily because of the “jiao tou”.
小笼包 Soup dumplings. Perennial favourites.
红糖发糕 Brown sugar steam cake. Just like our steamed cake, except it added dates and brown sugar.
Nice decor, good service, quite empty during lunch due to it far-flung corner location. Don’t know how long they will last.
ZhangShengJi Prime 张生记Prime (来福士广场店)
Date Visited : Mar 2019