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.


Beggar’s Chicken

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.


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Jin Sha. Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake’s signature Chinese restaurant and voted in Food & Wine Magazine’s Best 50 Restaurants in China. And deservedly so
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Modern Chinese table setting complementing the similar interiors of the restaurant. The design of the restaurant sets the expectation for a forward-thinking traditional meal
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Pork Belly Pyramid. One of the signature dishes of Jin Sha. A must-order for an unforgettable bao experience. The pork belly is meticulously wrapped into this gorgeously perfect pyramid form
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Hands down, one the best baos I have eaten around the world (including Taipei, Japan, NYC/SF, etc). This dish alone is worth the journey to Hangzhou
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And because you are dining in a Four Seasons establishment, service is detailed and thorough. Your server will plate each bao per person and the rest for the center of the table
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The steamed bao is beautifully and naturally yellow from the quality of egg yolks. The pork belly is slowly unraveled with each bao assembly
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The pork belly bao. The steamed bao is perfect with its softness, flavor, and the bite. The basket of baos alone can leave you completely satisfied
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The pork belly glisten. Beyond perfectly cooked pork belly. The pork’s skin is gorgeously caramelized and the soft, succulent roast of the meat penetrates through every layer of the belly. There is nothing else needed in this bao. Just the bun and the belly
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Beggar’s Chicken presentation. When this signature regional dish arrives to your table, the server brings it with a mallet for the guest to break the hardened wrapper open
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The dish is then further unwrapped tableside by the server. Because of the time needed to prepare the dish (at least 3 hours), it is made ahead of time with a limited number of orders per day
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The chicken is baked in lotus leaves which are covered in clay. The preparation enhances the tenderness and succulence of the chicken and then roasts the flavors together in the mold
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Unwrapping the last layer of lotus leaves as the steaming hot roasted chicken becomes unveiled.
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And because you are in a fine dining setting, the presentation is neatly formed in a family-style serving plate for the center of your table
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The chicken is then cut for you and presented on your table. The roasted color is gorgeously browned and caramelized from the hours in the oven
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Seasonal vegetables simply sautéed in garlic and oil. So simple and yet because of the high heat of the burner, the flavor is bursting with intensity and garlic while the vegetable is still perfectly crisp
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Ice cream with mango soup topped with red bean. A light ending which is ideal during the hot summer months
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Pillow puffs. A thin mochi layer around light airy cream and fruit. Another light, sweet, and cold dessert to cap off the filling meal
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The bites are light, fluffy, and slightly sweet to satisfy your sweet tooth after the savory meal
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Dong Po. Named after its creator who improved the recipe while exiled in Hangzhou. The slab of pork belly is slowly braised with soy sauce, sugar, and Chinese wine. You can find this at Jin Sha or at the WLB, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. Another reason to make a trip to Hangzhou


Four Seasons Hotel at West Lake
5 Lingyin Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang
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