Shenzhen Laurel Restaurant (深圳丹桂軒飲食集團)

This is definitely one of my favorite restaurant in Shenzhen.

Apparently, they’re also 1 of 10 best restaurant groups in China for many years consecutively. The group has about 5-6 restaurants in Shenzhen, 1 in Macau’s StarWorld Galaxy and a few others in Southern China. The one that I usually go to (the only location I keep going to) is located on the second floor of the Shenzhen Century Plaza Hotel (深圳新都酒店). Its clean and the restaurant is separated by a smoking and non-smoking section the entire length of the hotel lobby (lol). The staff is attentive and most importantly, their food is of extremely high standards (for reasonable prices … well, compared to Hong Kong anyway).

So what kind of Chinese food do they serve? I would say a mixture of Chinese ethnic cuisine, but with an emphasis on Southern China cuisine. But you can still get  Kao Ya (烤鴨) or what we Cantonese call Peen Pei Aap (片皮鴨), which if I’m not mistaken, originated from Beijing?

An added bonus to why I love Laurel Restaurant so much is their emphasis on wine pairing. Obviously, they still serve a range of other Chinese liquor, but for a local Chinese restaurant to be so serious about wine is a quite refreshing concept to me. No really, they have decent, more-than-drinkable wine (not some RMB 30 bottle) everywhere in the restaurant and a pretty nice wine cellar. It looks like wine really is picking up in the mainland!

Beef Cubes with Onions (铁板牛柳)

Beef Cubes with Onions (铁板牛柳)

First up was beef steak chopped into cubes, served medium on a piping hot metal plate … so its still cooking right in front of you. The dish is nothing new, but its cooked very well … the beef is really juicy and extremely flavourful and not too chewy; all of which are signs that the beef is fresh, and wasn’t drenched in soda powder / baking soda and water (something you might find in the HK$ 48 lunch set at Steak Expert!).

Crabs with Vermicelli (粉丝蟹锅)

Crabs with Vermicelli (粉丝蟹锅)

Next was a Vermicelli Crab Pot. Whenever I order this dish, I’m not really ordering for the crabs. Its the vermicelli I want … because it had absorbed the flavours from the crab, plus generous amounts of garlic, spice and sauce. You’ll see its a pretty “dry” pot, but that’s because all the essence has gone into the vermicelli. Yum. Unfortunately, when I had this dish, the crab wasn’t as fresh as I’d hope for … the meat felt a little loose, which probably means it wasn’t as fresh as it should’ve been. Minus points here.

Roast Duck (烤鸭)

Roast Duck (烤鸭)

This is really good. But its not quite the same as Beijing’s Quanjude (北京全聚德) … but I can’t quite point my finger on why. I’m guessing the ducks from Quanjude is fatter and roast differently than the ones from Laurel Restaurant. In fact, the roast duck here at Laurel are pretty “lean” but Kao Ya standards haha … the layer of fat between the meat and the skin is really quite thin.

Anyway, the chef would come out, show you the roasted duck and ask whether you want “thin cut” or “thick cut”. Usually the latter includes a bit of meat on it as well … but I usually get the thin cut, which is literally just the roasted skin of the duck.

Place the skin in the wrap (sort of like a Pita, but very thin and less dry), add sweet sauce, cucumber, spring onion … and there you have it!

What left is a perfectly good skinned duck and they’ll ask you how you want it cooked. They dice the meat up and fry it together with anything you want. In this particular case, we had it with bitter melon (苦瓜), which I’ve conveniently forgotten to snap a photo of. I know … I’m not usually a fan of bitter melon, but its actually not bad. Not too bitter for a start.

Spring Onion Chicken

Spring Onion Chicken

This dish also made an impression on me. The way the chef prepared it was steam the chicken until its about 70% cooked, all the while being extremely careful not to let the juice out. Then he’ll fry the chicken on high heat (or flame) in a wok with a generous amount of garlic, shallots, onions, spring onion, ginger and parsley. Take the chicken out of the wok, chop and place neatly on dish before pouring all the remaining contents from the wok on the chicken. Its so good.

Pepper & Salt Frog Legs :)

Pepper & Salt Frog Legs 🙂

One of Laurel Restaurant’s many specialty dishes and also one of my favorite at the restaurant is the Pepper & Salt Frog Legs (椒鹽田雞腿). I order it every time and quality has been pretty consistent throughout. They’re deep-fried just right with the outside slightly crunchy and the insides cooked, but not overcooked (i.e. its still very juicy inside) … hmm … not to mention, its not too salty and there’s a good balance between the pepper and salt.

We had this other chicken soup too, but I forgot to take a photo of it … sorry! Their soup (both chicken and fish soup) is quite popular because they comes with a heavy dose of Chinese herbs (a mix of ginseng, dongguai, tongsum, red dates and kei chi / wolfberries); Not-quite-your-ordinary Chinese soup. I’m sure its different for everyone, but for me, it was one of those hearty soup that sits really well in your stomach and you feel warm all over … yeh, probably best for winter.

We Won RMB 500!!!

We Won RMB 500!!!

The bill came out to be about RMB 980 for a group of 5, which is neither cheap or too expensive (I’d say its a little skewing the higher-end, especially in China standards … but I’m comparing prices along the Bund in Shanghai, etc.). BUT, as we were doing our little “scratchy” thing on the fa piao’s (发票), we got RMB 500!!! You can’t really see it clearly though … I was using my iPhone … I wish I had my D60 so I get a good close-up of the unmistakable 伍佰元 . How crazy is that? I’ve gotten RMB 20 before, but winning RMB 500 is like … winning second or third prize to the Mark Six Lottery in Hong Kong … or so I was told. Apparently, there’s also RMB 1,000, 5,000 and even 10,000 but that’s exponentially harder to get … obviously.

So we basically got a 50% discount for the meal 🙂

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10!

Note: Photos taken with an iPhone.

Shenzhen Laurel Restaurant (深圳丹桂軒飲食集團)
Shenzhen Century Plaza Hotel (深圳新都酒店)
Shenzhen, China


Nanling Restaurant (南伶酒家)

When I was in Shanghai recently, I asked my friend to take me to a restaurant I’ve never been to and he recommended Nanling Restaurant (南伶酒家). Apparently, its not really Shanghainese cuisine – it was something called Huaiyang Cuisine, but to be completely honest, I thought it was a combination of Shanghainese, Beijing and Sichuan Cuisine …

My friend ordered and we also asked the server to recommend some dishes to us. We were served Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包), “Lion’s Head” (獅子頭) and Plain Saute Shelled-Shrimps (清炒蝦仁) that is undeniably Shanghainese. Followed by Nanling’s famous Kao Ya (烤鴨), which I’ve always associated with Beijing Cuisine because of Quanjude’s (全聚德) reputation. The final dish of the night was “Water-boiled Beef” (水煮牛肉)! Tell me that’s not from Sichuan!

So what I learned that night was “Huaiyang Cuisine” = “Shanghai, Beijing and Sichuan Cuisine”, which is terrific. Rather than travel to different places, it was all served in one restaurant!

lol … nah, I’m sure there’s more to “Huaiyang Cuisine” than what I said, but … I’ll have to look into this 🙂 The damage for the night was RMB 300 for 3 (or RMB 100 each).

Nanling Restaurant (南伶酒家)
No. 168, Yueyang Road (near Yongjia Road; French Concession)
Shanghai, China
Tel1: +86 21 6433 0897
Tel2: +86 21 6467 7381
Opening Hours: 11:30AM-2:30PM (Lunch), 5:30-10:00PM (Dinner)