Hangzhou’s signature dishes
Hangzhou is known for its natural scenery and the mystical beauty of the West Lake. The landscapes are picturesque and worthy of the journey.
Adding to the magic of nature’s setting is the allurement of the region’s cuisine.
Hangzhou’s beauty inspired centuries of poets, artists, and cooks. These cooks created dishes which are prized, sought after, and craved for today throughout the world.
Legend tells the tale of Beggar’s Chicken originating in Hangzhou. The dish was literally a beggar’s chicken.
A beggar stole a chicken from a farmer and buried it in the mud by the riverbank. After escaping from the farmer, the beggar returned to the riverbank that evening and set a fire under the mud-covered chicken. A tight clay crust formed around the roasted bird. The beggar cracked open the clay formation and revealed a most aromatic and succulent chicken.
The fame of the dish presented itself when the Emperor happened to pass through while the beggar was eating and requested a sample. The Emperor declared the dish to be so amazing that it was to be added to the Imperial Court menu. The beggar then capitalized on the moment and sold his chicken dish to local villagers.
Today the chicken is covered in lotus leaves and clay, and then it is roasted slowly for hours to achieve a caramelized, fall-off-the-bone finish.
The origin of this dish also comes with a beautifully told tale. The man in the legend is Su Shi, also known as Su Tungpo or Su Dongpo.
A renaissance man of his time, Su was a writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, statesman, and gastronome. His politically charged poetry and writings led him to multiple exiles with the first landing him in Hangzhou.
During Su’s time in Hangzhou, he improved the quality of life for the locals by beautifying the scenery of the West Lake. The locals returned the favor by gifting him with pork.
Su enhanced and improved an existing pork belly dish by first braising the meat, adding Chinese yellow wine, and then stewing the cut slowly over a low heat to create a beautifully dark brown glaze and a melt-in-your-mouth gelatinous texture. The rest is history, or legend.
Jin Sha at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou
To enjoy the best of Hangzhou’s regional specialties, Jin Sha at the Four Seasons Hotel takes diners on a culinary journey.
Voted one of the “Best 50 Restaurants in China” by Food & Wine Magazine, the restaurant proudly serves Shanghainese, Cantonese, and local specialties which are either traditional or with a contemporary spin.
Jin Sha, meaning “golden sand”, refers to the name of the bay in which the hotel sits on the West Lake. Set in a modern Chinese interior with dark bold designs, diners can enjoy the views of the hotel’s gardens and the views of the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.
Specialties include Beggar’s Chicken which invites guests to hammer open the clay formation around the chicken.
Another dish that you must order is the Pork Belly Pyramid, one of the signature dishes of Jin Sha. From presentation to first bite (to licking your plate), this could be on the top of your list of most memorable dining experiences. This alone could be worth the whole journey.
Four Seasons Hotel at West Lake
5 Lingyin Road
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