Walking along Zhen Hua Road, a sweet smell hangs in the air, coming from a pot of tong bat lat (glutinous rice balls boiled in hot syrup) and by a quaint gate, next to it, hanging a smiling pig face—these unique elements mean one thing—you’ve arrived at Lao Guancheng Restaurant.
Antique decorations transport you back to older times within an instant; lanterns suspended from the ceiling, looking down on rustic wooden furniture. Gray walls make for a neutral but classic backdrop, while dancing lion props and “rooster bowl” tableware emphasize traditions in detail. If you are led to a huge table even though there are only two of you, this is pretty normal. And don’t be surprised if other groups of two or three spontaneously join you later.
Similar to most Chinese restaurants, there’s no English menu. However, WeChat translation is very helpful and most dishes are accompanied by photos. You might notice the majority of the waitresses are middle-aged women with little patience, like your mom after seeing your messy room back when you were a teenager. So, be a “good kid,” don’t ask too many questions and try not to order food more than once, as adding extra dishes means waiting for a while. The fish slice stir-fry with nuts priced at 55 RMB is recommended, for its combination of tender fish and crunchy nuts makes an impact on the palate. Be careful of some unavoidable tiny bones though. Make sure to order a must-try lu e (brown-color Guangdong style goose) or a dou pi ji (a renowned chicken dish from Shilong), costing 49 and 39 RMB—fortunately they are served without heads and feet. Bao zhi dou fu (braised tofu with abalone sauce) priced at 32 RMB is also a highlight.
Besides that, Dongguan xian tang yuan (Dongguan salty rice dumpling) is something that I personally could not appreciate, but maybe you would like to give it a try. Last but not least, dishes with offal are worth mentioning, for foreigners who prefer to avoid the innards—or those who would like to try something different—like tou cai zheng zhu li (pig tongue steamed with Chinese pickle) or mian chi zheng fen chang (intestines steamed with Chinese miso). Anyway, it’s your choice to be smart with the WeChat translator or be brave as the adventurer. Beverages such as red wine, bai jiu and soft drinks are available and reasonably priced.
What’s more, the restaurant features a souvenir store and most of the Dongguan specialties like la chang (Dongguan sausage) are for sale.
Address: No. 103, Zhen Hua Road, Guancheng