And we’re talking about cheap food that tastes good too!
What happens when you first enter a country with a culture (or cultures!) completely foreign to your own? Do you head straight to the food cart round the corner and point to the foreign menu pinned on the side that you can’t read? Or do you do the opposite, panic and freak out, and head to your local Starbucks or McDonalds?
I ended up doing a bit of both at my first time, mainly the latter not due to freaking out, but due to exhaustion. Experimenting can be fun and adventurous, but after a hard days of work, not knowing what kind of meat is going to appear on your plate and in what condition is not the most fun way to spend an evening. Especially when the aftermath may be greeting you in the morning the next day!
The problem with western food is that there is not a lot of it and it can be very expensive. (It’s also not always cooked properly if you live in Xiaolan!) But if you happen to be in Zhongshan, here’s some cheap and cheerful places to eat that won’t leave you feeling hungry or sick. (Probably.)
Thank You can be found on the ground floor of Seaport City – you know, the largest building in Xiaolan that acts as your ‘North star’ if you happen to get lost. I love Thank You, as it offers a wide choice at a cheap price, and you can see the food that you are purchasing, just grab a tray, point to the food and say zhège. If you order at least two items you will probably qualify to receive a free cup, if not, just point to it and say zhège. You cannot pay by card at Thank You, you can only pay through cash or WeChat (Weixin.) Then, just zhège zhège to your table and chī chī your food.
The only bad side is that very occasionally there’s a couple of flies dancing around, and it can be a bit crowded during rush times. Avoid the rush and you’ll be fine. Also, it is difficult to understand the exact prices of the dishes you are ordering, but the prices are generally pretty good especially if you work out that you only need to order one ‘main dish’ and one side. But also beware, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, the cola is very strong.
Finally, you can ask them to cook you an egg or two, you can ask for just plain rice (which is very cheap) and you can ask them to pack up your food for takeaway if you are in hurry.
Korean Take Away
Takeaways come and go, but so could any of the restaurants I mention on this post to be honest. It’s incredible to see things suddenly disappear and be replaced by a shining new restaurant. I’ve already written about the Korean takeaway, and I definitely recommend checking it out if you happen to be local.
Café De Coral
Café De Coral is a very cheerful restaurant chain that has a nice outlet in the local Daixin in Xiaolan Town, Zhongshan. (Find it in the building after the main one, if you pass through an array of knock off handbags you’re on the right path). They have giant menus right by the door with pictures, and all you need to memorize is their code ‘A3, B6’ etc. If not, just take a camera phone, take a picture of what you want and say zhège. (Honestly, the first word you need to learn when you get into China.)
The prices are incredibly good and the quality of the food is also very good. The only negative is that I recommend you to try to avoid going to the bathroom and all costs, but if you do go, realise that you probably did go right the way, keep going forward, mind where you step, and straight on is the ladies, somewhere to the right is either the kitchen or the mens. Also when you go, brace yourself, do your business and get outta there!
No matter where you go, there’s always a Venice somewhere in Zhongshan. The chain is pretty decent with an incredibly large and thorough menu that is translated to a readable quality. The quality of the food you get is fantastic but you will need to expect long waiting times. Unless you’re ordering steak, eating at Venice is very cheap and if you are in the need to cool down during the 8-9 months of summer, the drinks and desserts are very fun.