This century-old shop was formerly known as Gaochangxing Restaurant. In 1951, it was renamed Hangzhou Restaurant. It is the first state-run restaurant in Hangzhou. The national leaders Zhou Enlai and Marshal He Long have all visited.
This is a repost (new article and photoshop) to do justice to the food photos.
History of Hangzhou Restaurant 杭州酒店的历史
这家“高長興酒店”颇有来头。原来“高長興”三个字在绍兴酒行业中，是和王宝和、沈永和等齐名的老牌子，出自绍兴柯桥，清朝康熙年间创业，酒坊传承多年。民国二年 (1912) 在上海福州路407号（今古籍书店附近）开设酒菜馆，另在南京的秦淮河畔、杭州的延龄路仁和路口 (1921) 等地开设分店。各店均有名厨掌勺，供应的陈年黄酒都来自绍兴。杭州的高長興酒家于1951年更名为杭州酒家，是杭州首家国营菜馆。复兴中路东台路口的这家高長興酒店开设于1944年，原名“高長興炎記酒館”。
What I really liked was the way they have decorated the bottles for the classic house yellow wine. According to my host, this yellow wine was pretty crap. It was a best-seller because of the beautiful bottle.
The Dinner 晚宴
It was a business dinner, the portions were a bit extravagant and the number of courses excessive. But it was what a typical business banquet would be like.
No, we did not drink the famous house yellow wine. Instead, we went for another brand that is smoother, like a sake.
凉菜三品 Amuse Bouche
3 small appetisers were served like an amuse bouche.
- 马兰头腐皮卷 Indian aster wrapped in beancurd skin – a variation of the usual presentation of Indian aster mixed with chopped tofu. The minty herb with the almost bland beancurd were held together with the spring roll like wrapping, making it so easy to consume.
- 酱黄瓜苗 pickled baby zucchini – I have tried this as a tempura, in a hotpot, but first time as a pickle. Tasted just like 拍黄瓜 smashed cucumber, but more delicate.
- 芝麻核桃 sesame crusted honey walnut – tasted like something out of a can of cocktail nuts
If the amuse bouche is like this, I have much to anticipate for the rest of the meal.
桂花蜜藕 Lotus roots in osmantheus honey
You stuff the cavities of the lotus roots with sweetened glutinous rice. And then the whole thing is steamed and then cut to shape. This is followed by drenching it and drowning it in a really sweet osmantheus flower molasses. Not my kind of appetiser, it is more like a dessert to me.
杭州酱鸭 Hangzhou Smoked Duck in heavy sauce
The texture of the duck was more like preserved items: hard and chewy. Taste wise it was very good indeed, not too sweet and the meat remained very moist. It actually tasted more like smoked duck to me. Maybe it was being smoked as part of the whole process.
麻酱油麦菜 Romaine lettuce with sesame peanut sauce
A slight variation here, they layered the lettuce with mung bean skins 凉皮. So you have two dishes in one – 凉皮 and 油麦菜.
杭州熏鱼 Hangzhou smoked fish
Unlike the Shanghainese (who uses pomfrets), Hangzhou smoked fish uses the carp. This river fish is usually boney and quite tasteless. The process of frying it and then cooking it in a heavy sauce makes the fish more palatable. But it’s a hassle to work through the bones.
The Main Courses 热菜
龙井虾仁 Sautéed shrimps with Longjing tea infusion
Just like all other restaurants that sold this dish, none has properly infused the Longjing tea into the shrimps. Longjing tea is very delicate, the scent is not overpowering like osmantheus. I think the dish was more a tourist gimmick as Hangzhou is surrounded by tea plantations for Longjing.
栗子烧肉 Braised pork belly with chestnuts
I love chestnuts in all manner – eaten as it is, roasted; cooked in rice; added to braises and stews. Here, they combined my favourite Jiangzhe dish 东坡肉 Dongpo stewed pork with chestnuts. Yummy.
西湖醋鱼 Westlake fish in vinegar sauce
Also known as 宋嫂鱼 Sister Song’s Fish, this is a traditional local specialty dish of Hangzhou. It first originated in Southern Song Dynasty. The material of West Lake Fish usually is the grass carp found in abundance in the multiple bodies of water around Hangzhou. After cooking, the chef will pour the smooth sugar and vinegar on the fish, which will cause the pectoral fin to stand up. In this way, the fish is tender and sweet with special crab flavour.
酱肉蒸春笋 Bamboo shoots steamed with salted pork
There’s a layer of oil rendered from the fats of the salted pork belly when it was served. It is the quintessential signature of the Shanghainese style – heavy sauce and glistening oil. Beyond that, it was surprising tasty and not so overwhelming. The bamboo shoot was the highlight. It has borrowed the flavours from the pork and by doing so gained a new altitude of flavour.
老鸭汤 “Old duck soup”
The word “old” does not meant that the duck was an old duck and the meat was tough and dry. It uses an adult duck and simmered in a Jinhua pork bone stock until all the goodness are extracted to the creamy white soup. The flavours are further enhanced with dried bamboo shoots and ginger. A very hearty and satisfying soup for a cold autumn night. Yes, due to the cooking, the duck is very “old”.
粉丝蒜茸扇贝 Steamed scallops with minced garlic and vermicelli
A Cantonese dish masquerading in a Huaiyang restaurant.
油淋广东菜心 Canton lettuce with soy dressing
Not Cantonese because of the use of the sweet and savoury Jiangsu-style soy sauce.
咖喱蟹 Curry mud crab
I usually skipped curry crabs in all manner outside of Singapore. I stick to my Singaporean chilli crabs.
上汤苋菜 Spinach in superior stock
Very home cooked style, very simple and tasty.
I missed the photo for the 酒酿丸子 glutinous rice balls in wine lees soup. I didn’t like that, so I didn’t take a portion.
荷花酥 Lotus puff with sweet bean paste filling
松丝汤包 Soup dumplings with pine
At first I thought of it a gimmick. Xiaolongbao steamed with pine needles? But when they unveiled the steaming hot dumplings, a whiff of pine filled the air. Momentarily, yet unforgettable. Just remember not to eat the pine needles.
Reservations required, very popular as it is near West Lake.
Maybe it’s the popularity, maybe because it’s near the tourist Westlake, I was not impressed by the service or the food. The food was a hit and miss affair. The classics were all OK, but the others were misses.
I would come to just have the bragging rights that I have done one of the bastion of Hangzhou cuisine.
Hangzhou Restaurant 杭州酒家
205 Yan’an Rd, HuBin ShangQuan, Shangcheng Qu,
Hangzhou Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 310003
Tel : +86 571 8708 7123
Date Visited : May 2018