Adventures in Food: Dong Jiang Seafood Restaurant, Guangzhou, China

A major benefit of infrequent business trips to Guangzhou was the variety of food that I'd never seen anywhere else. My Chinese colleagues soon realised that I was one of the few western visitors that would try any of the food. I was sure they were trying to see how far they could push me. The jellyfish starter and the fish-eye soup were a particular favourite in the cafeteria near our office. 

One night I was taken to the Dong Jiang Seafood restaurant in the city centre. I'm writing this a few years on so I can't remember exactly where it was and there seems to be several restaurants in the city with the same name.  The place was huge: 5 floor, each large enough to hold several hundred diners. You could either pick from the menu, which helpfully showed photos of the animals that would be your dinner, or go down to the market hall on the ground floor. The market hall had stalls and buckets of everything you could eat from chicken testicles, bees, shark and a counter with somebody hacking into a whole crocodile. 

I was determined to have a snake, so I was taken over to the large buckets. I pointed at one that I liked the look of, not really knowing how to select good snake. A member of staff hooked the live snake, popped it in a bag, weighed it and took it to the kitchen. About 30 minutes later, it was presented on my table in segments, following a duck-tongue starter. There's an old cliche that everything tastes like chicken, and the snake actually did.

I like to think I'd eat anything as a cultural experience whilst on my travels. Snake actually felt a bit tame against the stuff I saw in the market hall. The craziest thing was the Canadian Geoduck Clam which looked like something from another planet. Next time I visit will be the true test of whether I'd really try anything.

Richard gowerComment