The reverent Taotao Ju from Guangzhou made its debut in Shenzhen, signalling the coming of age of the young city.
The Youngest Metropolis
Shenzhen prospered over the last 30 years from a sleepy farming community to the Silicon Valley of China, thanks to the visions of a single man Deng Xiaoping and millions other migrants that came to this place to seek their fortunes. This place was not like Guangzhou with its long history and the culinary capital of China, Shenzhen dwellers were here for making wealth. And then with wealth, the culinary expectations grew. You start seeing better and more established names in town.
Taotao Ju is a very old (140 years old) and respected name in Cantonese cuisine. The calligraphy in the signboard was written by the Qing dynasty scholar and revolutionary Kang Youwei.
Unlike its cousins in Guangzhou, the Shenzhen store has very modern and bright decor, even though the lighting looked like the ones bought in Taobao.
The tableware featured the kapok trees 木棉花. People in Guangzhou have long grown kapok trees, using its cotton to make clothes and its flowers as medicine. Cantonese consider they have a strong spirit which pushes it to grow high into the sunlight. In 1982, kapok flowers were chosen to become the official flower of Guangzhou.
Signature Roast Goose 陶陶居百年烧鹅
Dining in Taotao Ju, one needs to order their famous poultry dishes. And top of the pops is their Signature Roast Goose that has been on their menu for over 100 years. The goose meat is moist and tender. Every bite has the distinct marinade and spices that they used for the goose. And the skin is crispy. No wonder this has been popular for over a century.
Crispy Skin Pipa Duck 酥皮琵琶鸭
Pipa duck is a juvenile duck. Not quite the full size duck, this dish can be imagined as the “spring chicken” of duck. Because of the small size, the meat is tender and the entire duck be deep fried, hence the crispy skin.
Roast Pigeon 红烧乳鸽
Their pigeon has been braised before it is deep fried, giving it a complexity of flavours. Just a downside, the pigeon is quite small, not like the ones I had at Yuen Long.
Double-Boiled Chinese Yam Wolf Berry Fish Maw Black-Bone Chicken Soup 淮杞花胶炖竹丝鸡
Cantonese are well-known for their soup, especially these double-boiled soups. Black-bone chicken is the cornerstone of many of these nutritious soups, and combined with Chinese medicinal herbs like Chinese yam (淮山, remedy for hot flashes associated with menopause; postmenopausal vaginal dryness; premenstrual syndrome; gallbladder problems; rheumatoid arthritis; menstrual disorders; osteoporosis; fatigue), wolf berries (枸杞, good for eye sights) and enhanced with fish maw (for collagen). This soup is so good for women.
Ice Chilled Sweet and Sour Pork 冰镇咕噜肉
The ice is not a gimmick. The cold ice rapidly lowered the temperature of the hot and crispy sweet and sour pork, causing the sugary coating to crystallise in an instant.
So you get a crunch cold coat of sugar followed by a warm crispy coat of batter and then finally the delicious sweet and sour pork. After you had this, you would not see your takeaway sweet and sour pork in your local Chinatown in the same light again.
Crispy Pork Belly 化皮烧腩仔
The Cantonese has perfected this dish. The crunch of the skin and the tenderness of the pork belly, this is must order and eaten in the restaurant. It does not taste as good as takeaways.
Pan-Fried Prawn Cake with French Beans 碧绿鲜煎鲜虾饼
A simple dish that mom would make at home, it is made up of minced prawn meat mixed with chopped french beans patted into cakes and pan-fried. Very homily.
Shrimp Paste Lettuce Casserole 啫啫生菜煲
The prawn paste gave this dish that umami bomb for otherwise a tasteless vegetable.
Glutinous Rice with Cured Meat 腊味糯米饭
This is a common end to a Cantonese dinner. Seemingly simple glutinous rice is a difficult dish to prepare. If there’s too much water, the rice would clump together and become a sticky lump. Too much cured meat, the rice would taste salty and musky. Too much oil, the rice is destroyed.
To strike the perfect balance, it takes years of experience. This was a good bowl of glutinous rice that was not destroyed by franchising.
This branch has not disappoint and generally maintained the standard from the Guangzhou stores. It has even excelled in the department of service and decor. The padawan has surpassed the master.
Taotao Ju Shenzhen 陶陶居酒家 (卓越中心店)
Tel : 0755-82998870/71
Date Visited : Dec 2020
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