Hangzhou is full of "famous" restaurants - mostly state-run enterprises concentrating on the standard Zhejiang cuisine. If you are looking for something a little bit different, then you have to look a little bit harder. Yun Shui Yao is a very interesting restaurant in a some what obscure location. It is actually quite near the Gongchen Bridge - but even many locals don't know that it exists.
Yun Shui Yao specializes in cuisine from Yunnan - so the food is a bit more spicy compared to the standard Chinese fare. The restaurant is in a traditional old house next to a canal. It is very scenic and if you want to appreciate the beautiful surroundings it is best to go for lunch. We were there for dinner so unfortunately it was too dark to appreciate the unique location.
Faced with a long menu and having no idea about the food served in this restaurant - I had to call on the waiter to help. We ended up with quite a number of dishes that were all interesting and delicious. To start off was smoked chicken feet - which was crunchy and flavourful.
Next was white-cooked chicken in a spicy sauce. The chicken was very tender, and the sauce had just the right balance of salty, sour and spicy.
Next was grilled beef on a bed of spring onion. The beef was well marinated and very flavourful. It was served over a Hibachi grill, and towards the end the spring onion was slightly burnt and caramelized and tasted really great with the beef. This was one of the best dishes we had.
Sour fish soup - this is a bit like a fish head beehoon soup in Malaysia. The soup is slightly sweet, sour, spicy and thickened with milk. Goes very well with the fish.
Ma Po Tofu - a common dish done very well here. It is a testament to the skill of the chef that such a simple dish can be made so delicious.
Salt baked prawns - the prawns were wrapped in foil and baked in a pot filled with salt. The prawns were fresh and crunchy and just had a subtle hit of saltiness and smokiness from the cooking process.
Sliced pork with soy sauce ans sesame oil. Another simple yet tasty dish - the accompanying cabbage leaves help to balance out the saltiness of the pork slices.
The food at Yun Shui Yao is interesting and delicious. It was easily one of the top restaurants we tried during our visit to Hangzhou.