Yum! Southern China’s Soup Culture

After getting to the real Southern China (Guangdong, not Shanghai) in 2006, I never became too fond the local pension for homemade soup. I knew it was a great excuse for parents to invite their kids home for a weekend visit and I knew there were loads of health benefits too. But I personally never preferred to eat soup as a meal, except as a free side to Chinese fast food. It was only recently that I discovered how easy it was to make and enjoy. Now it has finally found its place among the other great discoveries here on AL.ME

Maybe I avoided it because it was so Cantonese and I missed the Mandarin world a little. Making soup (煲汤) and Morning Tea (早茶) are very Cantonese and have slowly found their place among my all-time favorite Chinese weekend activities. Now, or when I’m ready to move on, they will join me as I explore the rest of China (and the USA).

Soup Ingredients

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The Shantou Beef Restaurant Experience

Last year, summer 2011, I visited a seaside city in Southern China called Shantou. It is one of the original Special Economic Zones of China, just like Zhuhai, and it has a unique culture of its own. They are a special kind of Cantonese people who speak “Chaoshan hua”. (A shared dialect between Chaozhou and Shantou ) Most are ethically Han but refer to themselves as Chaoshan people. Their women are known to be “the best wives in China” because they take care of their husbands so well. AND they offer some of the most delicious cuisine too.  So, what should you eat when you go to Shantou or Chaozhou? … BEEF.

While I was in Shantou, my hosts took us to a buffet-style restaurant famous for its Beef Balls. (You’ll hear many Shantou people ask “Do you like beef ball?”) The following photos show the entire spread of meaty goodness available at the buffet, which is meant to be cooked in mini hotpots in front of each person.

Tip! When gathering your dipping sauces be careful not to mistake the MSG for sugar… Don’t worry! At least this restaurant lets you choose whether or not to put in the Wizard!

Shantou BEEF Restaurant

Chaozhou was also amazing city to visit due to its history. Take a look at some of the places we visited below. The first one is a bridge made from boats latched together. It’s very old! Another one is me on an old street which is lined with gates through the center of the old city.

Chaozhou Boat Bridge


Chaozhou Ancient Street

The Eastern part of Guangdong is truly different from the Pearl River Delta (PRD) area. I highly suggest a visit because money and pollution can get a little boring after a while… am I right?