Friday 7 July 2017


A sort of under-construction, maintenance-being-carried-out, don't-touch, wet-paint vibe permeates the air in Guiyang. Beneath the fumes and the building sites, the lanes of highways and concrete sky walkways is something exciting. There is a trendy, youthful vibe to the city. Small turns off of main streets in the evening uncover contemporary bars and side-street restaurants, their glowing warmth inviting us in to be greeted by rooms full of young twenty-somethings sipping on drinks, eating and telling tales of their day.

The Italian restaurant we decided to try out on Sunday night was owned by a local guy who spoke fluent English; he had worked in Italy and made pizza as good as you can probably get in China. The night we stopped by they were hosting an upscale singles night for the young and free of Guiyang to network and flirt with appropriate suitors. Clearly there was something going on here—this isn't the image of China that is poured down our throats in the West: isn't China a big scary place with the crazy uncouth tourists who go around in large groups? Well, China is becoming something else, it is evolving and so are the people. The young generation are testing their boundaries, taking cues from net-disseminated trends and trying out new things – like a masked ball-themed date night at an Italian restaurant, for instance.

Aside from the modern musings of the youth hanging outside malls with bubble tea in hand, Guiyang's pavements are also filled with street snacking. There's a plethora of street food stalls all over the city cooking up delicious and crazily cheap Chinese dishes. It would be easy just to spend the day in Guiyang walking the streets and eating, which is... pretty much what we did.

🍴 Buddhist temple vegetarian restaurant - 禅悦ι…₯陀
Serving delicate vegetarian food from a non-English picture menu, monks run this restaurant from the adjoining temple. More expensive that a regular temple-based vegetarian buffet, but with a much higher quality of food. Some dishes are so tasty they actually melted in the mouth: mock fish, for instance, or the lotus root with that fiery sauce all over. The staff were very smiley and helped us with choosing our plates. Families sat around and had early dinners together.

From our seat upstairs next to an open window we sat and watched the puzzle of cars and motorbikes shift and meander together in the rush hour buzz below. The surroundings were beautifully and carefully decorated and the food was for real one of the best vegetarian meals we ate in Asia.

🍴 Italian
Down a dark alleyway behind an area spotted with a few intriguing bars this Italian style restaurant is a strange bubble tucked away from buzz of the city. The night we visited they were hosting an attempt at an upscale black-and-white, masquerade ball singles party upstairs, even though they were officially closed the owner kindly accommodated our pizza craving. With a glass of red wine (served at actual room-temperature, which is unusual in Asia) in hand we enjoyed the margherita: fairly flavourful but a little overpriced. Go if you're desperate for pizza and fancy some intimate off-beat surroundings.
🍴 Kong coffee
What a strange place. we were attracted to this coffee shop because of a Japanese anime theme that seemed to glint through the window, and sure enough when we turned up for a coffee hit there was an actual cosplay photoshoot happening in the front room, shelves of yuri manga everywhere. The coffee was crazy expensive (around £5.00 seriously) as it so often is in China, being seen as an aspirational luxury thing, but it was single origin and had this incredible rich purple-y taste. Worth the price tag.

It was decorated like an old English house which was odd for us being from England, but it was cute even though there was a Twin Peaks Black Lodge vibe about it. Or like being in one of those anime where it's like one guy for some reason living in a stately mansion somewhere and all the other characters are female maids. Half things that are tasty, half things that are weird.

Peep our VISITS series post on Guiyang, a whirlwind stopover in the city〜

🍴Street Food
Without a doubt, the most exciting food for the taste buds in Guiyang was being sold by street vendors. The locals selling their tasty things were so happy and cheery when we approached their stalls after following the out of this world aromas often wafting from them. The snacks we bought were so crazily cheap and full of flavour.

Those big brown muffin-looking things are η™Όη²Ώ fa gao, sweet stodgy creations of dough. And the round somewhat pancake-esque things are indeed pancakes of the red bean paste-filled variety (豆沙ι₯Ό, dou sha bing). Both are delicious in a mouth-filling sugary-savoury way. The really deep fried looking thing served to us in a plastic bag, however, was interesting as it contained what appeared to be red bean paste, but unsweetened—very unusual.

🍴 Broad Street Bakery
There are tons of bakeries all over Asia selling unfamiliar takes on Western classics. Broad Street Bakery is one of these. The bread was the closest to authentic bread we had for a long time at this point, and about half the price we would pay for it at home. We picked up a bagel with camembert and cranberries in to keep us going until the next meal and a whole baguette for the long train journey to Kunming. Places like this are a safety net when super hungry.


πŸ– More things that are tasty from… πŸ–

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