Now that you have heard about breakfast (the fun meal) and lunch (the walk meal), it is time for the most important and most delicious meal of the day, dinner in Guilin. It is our splurge meal. We usually spend between ¥30 and ¥60 ($4.60-$9.30) on the meal, making sure to get whatever our little hearts desire.
Local Guilin Dinner Restaurants
With my morning adventuring and afternoon walks, I’m usually pretty beat by dinner. So, we have gotten in the habit of frequenting three neighboring restaurants that are all close by. They are nearly identical, except one place has a particularly sassy waitress that greets us at the door. Each of them is a little hole-in-the-wall type place with no more than eight tables, a display shelf, a small kitchen, and pictures of their signature dishes on the wall with prices. When you can’t read, the pictures make a big difference.
When we arrive, it is almost always empty except for the waitress and cook, who are either asleep or on their phone at one of the tables, and a child loudly doing homework. Once we start eating, a crowd of diners mysteriously appears and the places are nearly packed (I think I need to start asking for a discount for our unintentional marketing abilities). I have seen the places busy without us, as well, but mostly during lunch time.
The Ins and Outs of Budget Dining in China
Budget dining is the way to go. We have tried fancy restaurants and we’ve tried outdoor food stalls. The budget restaurants may seem overwhelming at first, but they are the ideal mix of delicious and cheap.
For first timers, we strongly suggest finding a place with menu items pictured on the wall. These displays are quite large, so they will be visible from the outside. This is ideal because most of these restaurants either don’t have menus or they have small ones written entirely in Chinese.
At the table, we usually found wrapped dishes. Many restaurants would charge us about ¥2 for each unwrapped set. If we are given a large bowl and pot of hot water or tea, we will use those items to wash our unpacked dishes. We throw the wrappings and any other garbage into the provided waste bin and are then ready to order.
Our Guilin Dinner
Once seated, the sassy waitress tries to talk us into ordering a collection of the most expensive items on the menu and waits, baffled, as we order plates of common mush instead. For the two of us, Guilin dinner consists of one or two entrees, either rice or noodles, and a bottle of beer to share.
Our favorite Guilin dinner is Mushroom and Pork Slices. It is a dish of stiff mushrooms, pork, cucumbers, carrots, ginger, garlic, and green onion. Aside from the cucumbers and ginger, we find ourselves practically licking this plate clean. Another long time favorite is the Yangzhou fried rice. It is the most similar to some of the fried rice we would get at home, but something about the way it’s made here makes it taste so much more amazing.
Sometimes, we end up eating vegetarian for dinner. The green beans, peppers, and garlic is Josh’s favorite dish. It’s a little spicy, but it’s not overwhelming, and is definitely loaded with flavor. I prefer rice over noodles (rice is a dish I could every day for the rest of my life), but Josh likes it the other way around. So, occasionally, I indulge him with noodles instead of rice… then usually end up ordering a bowl of rice on the side later.
The food here is absolutely amazing. It’s been close to a month, and we haven’t had any American food yet. That’s not just because it’s expensive and scarce, but because there are simply so many fun restaurants around and new dishes to try! Every Guilin dinner ends with a happy tummy, and the promise of new adventure tomorrow.
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