Classic Hangzhou fare wrapped in nostalgia
Not far from the glamorous dining spots along the city’s waterfront resides a lovely restaurant well hidden behind a low-key façade on Sichuan Road M., dotted with impressive historic buildings that will hit you with a wave of nostalgia. And the same can be said of Le Patio & La Famille — a restaurant specializing in Hangzhou cuisine.
The restaurant’s interior personifies Shanghai of yesteryear and is one of a few venues exuding a classic vibe in a fast-moving cosmopolitan city.
The restaurant has two venues in the city. This outlet on the Bund has been in business for 13 years and has received a Michelin star over the past five consecutive years. It’s well worth dropping by if you want to enjoy a good Chinese meal with a courteous and friendly service in a cozy ambience.
The cooking here celebrates the traditional and diverse cuisine of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, and its surrounding region.
Zhejiang fare is associated with freshness, tenderness and smoothness of taste.
Hangzhou cuisine is light, crisp, elegant and highly finished. It is characterized by elaborate preparation and varying techniques, such as sautéing, stewing and stir and deep-frying, which varies with the change of the season.
At Le Paio & La Famille, the seasonal menu is updated regularly to keep it fresh. Rather than serving everything simultaneously, the food arrived steadily allowing us to savor each course separately.
Most of the signature Hangzhou dishes are featured here, such as Longjing shrimp, braised ham in honey sauce, and traditional duck soup with dried bamboo shoots.
The highlight of the menu is undoubtedly the gold medal pork (168 yuan) served with pancakes. The pork belly is carved out into a pyramid shape and the knife skills that sliced meticulously along the edges of the pork belly, keeping the piece together as one long strip, were impressive. The thin, pork belly slices wrapped inside the pancake melted in the mouth, releasing a sweet, savory fragrance.
Crispy eel and shrimp (88 yuan) is another typical Hangzhou dish worth a try.
The deep-fried eel slices, with a special sauce, tasted fairly sweet and fresh, while the stir-fried fresh water river shrimps were moist and tender, balancing the stronger flavors from the eels and contrasting with the crispy textures. The restaurant also offers authentic Hangzhou noodles and snacks, such as Pian’erchuan. The noodle soup, with the toppings composed of sliced pork, bamboo shoots and preserved vegetables, is delicious.
Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm
Address: 216 Sichuan Rd M.
Average price: 280 yuan (US$43.3)