A culinary journey: Discovering the charm of food, manufacturing in Shunde, Guangdong
Discovering the charm of food, manufacturing in Shunde, Guangdong
Published: May 25, 2023 07:48 PM Updated: May 26, 2023 11:11 PM
Fisherman's Wharf, a lively area illuminated with colorful lights, is a must-see destination for seafood lovers in Shunde. Photo: IC

Fisherman's Wharf, a lively area illuminated with colorful lights, is a must-see destination for seafood lovers in Shunde. Photo: IC

The fish skin cold and dressed with sauce, a typical dish at Shunde, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

The fish skin cold and dressed with sauce, a typical dish at Shunde, South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

This spring, a once glorious and later faded industrial city in East China's Shandong Province, shot to fame overnight and became a trendy tourist destination due to its unique culture of open-air barbecue. However, another gourmet paradise has been attracting Chinese food lovers to southern China - Shunde, a small but vibrant town in Foshan,South China's Guangdong Province. 

To prepare myself for the trip to Shunde, I watched a documentary produced by state broadcaster CCTV titled A Bite of Shunde, from that show, I gathered a general idea of the city and its people: I noticed that they seemed to have a deep respect for their culinary traditions and their food is seen as a reflection of their history and culture.

I later went to the small town to explore it more in depth and find out how the locals were able to create a city renowned both for its cuisine and its manufacturing industry.

A bite of Shunde 

By visiting the local markets, talking to chefs and food vendors, I soon discovered that Shunde's citizens appeared quite accomplished in many areas: they're a hardworking and resourceful people characterized by a strong sense of community.

On December 1, 2014, the UNESCO officially announced that Shunde had been named "City of World Cuisine." Shunde was the second Chinese region to win this honor, after Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2010, so I knew that the most important thing to do here, and my duty as a reporter, was to taste all kinds of local food. As the old saying goes: "Look for food in Guangdong, for taste in Shunde."  

My friend, Wu, born in Central China's Hunan Province and a resident of Shunde for almost 10 years, gave me a nudge in the right direction: To enjoy the most authentic taste of Shunde one needs to avoid high-end restaurants and head for small street diners instead.

He then guided me to the Huagai Road, one of the most popular commercial pedestrian streets, where I enjoyed enormously its bustling crowds, colorful storefronts, traditional architecture and delicious, unique cuisine. 

When I walked into a popular restaurant called Mingxin Laopu, it was love at first sight: Its traditional design featuring wooden furniture and lanterns hanging from the ceiling reflected perfectly the restaurant's long history, dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). 

Several generations of the same family have taken care of the restaurant and the location has been certified as an intangible cultural heritage of Guangdong Province.

One of Mingxin Laopu's signature dishes is the Cantonese Steamed Milk Egg Pudding, called Shuang Pi Nai in Chinese. 

It is a type of milk pudding made from cow's milk, sugar, and a special ingredient called "double skin" (Shuang Pi), which is formed on the surface of the milk during the cooking process. 

The double skin is carefully removed and added back into the pudding, giving it a unique texture and flavor. 

The dessert is often served cold and garnished with fruit or nuts. If you plan to visit Shunde, this is a must-try. 

Another dish worth a taste is their roasted goose, a culinary art treasure crispy on the outside and tender on the inside served with a sweet and savory sauce. 

During the recent May Day holidays, Shunde saw a surge in tourism, with visitors flocking to the town to experience its unique blend of culture, food, and manufacturing. According to reports, this year Shunde was one of the top 10 most popular food destinations in China, with searches for "Shunde cuisine" soaring by 200 percent in a single week.

Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Shunde. 

Featuring a large outdoor area with a lake, bridges, and pavilions, the complex offered me a chance to enjoy a leisurely stroll. Alongside the lake is a seafood market, restaurants, shops, and entertainment facilities. 

At night, I was immersed in a lively and festive atmosphere as the area was illuminated with colorful lights. Fisherman's Wharf is a must-visit destination if you are a seafood lover or if you are trying to look for a unique cultural experience in Guangdong.

Skilled in metalworking

Shunde people's dedication to their craft was not limited to cookery alone. They are also skilled in carpentry, metalworking, and other trades. They take pride in their work and their attention to detail is visible in everything they do.

As an experienced household appliance industry worker, my friend Wu took me to take a glimpse into another side of Shunde - a home to several well-known home appliance manufacturers. 

He told me that Shunde's manufacturing industry has a long history, dating back to the 1980s when Wanhe Electric Appliances first began producing gas water heaters. 

As the world becomes increasingly digital, intelligent, and environmentally friendly, Shunde's manufacturing industry is keeping pace with the latest trends. With a focus on innovation and sustainability, the town's manufacturers are working hard to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in the global market.

Wu told me that the high-quality appliances in Shunde have been exported to all over the world. 

The industry had humble beginnings, with small workshops producing basic appliances like rice cookers and electric fans. However, as the demand for these products grew, so did the industry. Soon, large factories were built, and the production of appliances became more sophisticated.

The success of the household appliance industry in Shunde was not without its challenges. 

The competition was fierce and companies had to constantly adapt to changing market conditions. 

However, the people of Shunde were resilient and kept constantly innovating and improving their designs, making their appliances more energy-efficient and user-friendly, as well as competitive in the market.

Shunde's unique blend of food and manufacturing has made it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing some of the best of what China has to offer. 

Whether you're a foodie looking for the next great culinary adventure or a manufacturing enthusiast interested in the latest technology and innovation, Shunde has something for you.