When you strolled around Hefeng Street, right parallel to it was Gao Yin Jie with many eating houses and famous restaurants. So when you want to have lunch around this area, tried one of the restaurants there.
Origin of Gaoyin Street 高银街
Gaoyin Street is a popular food street located next to Hefang Street at the foot of Wu Hill. The street is named after Gao, a virtuous young man who lived here during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).
According to legend, Gao was an orphan who one day found on the street a bag of silver ignots (ancient Chinese currency). Gao didn’t steal the coins instead he guarded them and waited for their rightful owner to return. The bearer of the coins, a merchant, was so moved by Gao’s honesty that he employed him as his business assistant. Through the merchants efforts Gao became a millionaire opening a prosperous jewellery shop and it was in honour of Gao’s virtuous deed that the street was named Gaoyin, Gao from the boy’s name and Yin being the Chinese for silver.
Today Gaoyin Street has become “China’s kitchen” where the cuisine of a number of its provinces can be sampled. Unlike other food streets where stalls are a plenty, this street is predominantly renowned for its restaurants, some of which are of a traditional design such as Zhi Wei Guan and Xiao Shaoxin. The most famous of them all is called Huang Fan Er, where Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799) is said to have dined.
Royal Meal 皇饭儿
There are many legends about Emperor Qianlong in Jiangnan, In the six times he was in Jiangnan, he came to Hangzhou and ate at the home of Wang Runxin王润兴 twice. It was said that in his third visit, he came to Hangzhou and was caught in the rain and seemed refuge from the rain in Wang’s house. He was hungry and Wang cooked him a casserole of fish head and tofu. He loved it so much that he came back to looked for Wang the next time he was in Hangzhou and got Wang to cook him the fish head casserole.
This time, he asked why Wang did not open a restaurant with his culinary skills. Wang simply said, “I am just a peasant who is leaving from hand to mouth, how can I afford to open a restaurant? So Emperor Qianlong gave him 500 silver taels and wrote the signboard 皇饭儿 meaning “royal meal”. The replica of the original signboard still hangs on the front of the restaurant today.
Hangzhou cuisine is renowned for their delicate knife work and taste. 干贝文丝羹 dried scallop and shredded tofu soup is a showcase of the knife work of the chef. The tofu spreads like a chrysanthemum in the scallop soup. This particular example was so terrible – it has no taste and it was like a bland piece of tofu in water. Even the knife work was not delicate enough.
Another Hangzhou classic – 鳌扣鸡 salted fish with steamed chicken – is made up of two part, a steamed chicken with the salted fish to provide flavours. The fish came up really pungent and cold, and the chicken was overcooked and cold. Really bad cooking.
The only saving grace was the 臭豆腐 stinky tofu. However it can be bought outside the restaurant for 1/3 the price they charged when dining inside.
The whole dining experience was terrible. It is catering to tourist more than anything. It really disgraces the accolades given by Emperor Qianlong. In fact, this is the second restaurant I have tried in the same street and both were horrible. Perhaps one should just avoid the tourist traps that are around this area.
Royal Banquet 皇饭儿（高银街总店）
Tel : 0571-87801068
Date Visited : Jun 2019