During our tenure in Guangzhou we’ve come to realize that many Westerners don’t invest a considerable amount of time exploring the fascinating and diverse neighborhood that is Xiaobei. This is a shame, because in addition to cool shops and wholesale markets, there are some great places to dine. That’s why, this month, we’ve decided to introduce you to six of our favorite spots to snack, scoff down king-sized meals and sip a cold pint in Xiaobei.
Inconspicuously located in a large concrete pillar attached to a car park entrance, Namaste Kitchen can be a tad difficult to locate for first-time visitors. But a journey here is well rewarded. As the restaurant specializes in Nepalese cuisine, we recommend diving into its abundant curry offerings; it’s also advised to sample the vegetable momos (a Nepalese-style dumpling). Visit during lunch and dinner to enjoy a diverse all-you-can-eat menu for RMB55 (for carnivores) and RMB50 (for vegetarians).
2. New Medina
With three distinct menus covering African, Arab, Chinese and Indian cuisines, New Medina is one of Xiaobei’s most popular joints. Like most eateries in the area, halal is the name of the game here and, in addition to adhering to Islamic dietary laws, New Medina also harbors a Muslim prayer room. Choice dishes include the veggie pakora curry, egg curry and the hefty and succulent chicken shawarma wrap (which sells for only RMB25!).
Operating out of its third floor location in the New Honghui Wholesale Market for more than seven years, this Yemeni eatery serves fairly priced Middle Eastern cuisine to a diverse clientele of African and Arab diners in the heart of Xiaobei. Fresh, tasty salads (we recommend the fattoush, RMB30), rich, creamy dips (RMB30) and its proximity to the metro make it a perfect pit stop for a quick healthy lunch, while indulgent platters of barbecued lamb and fowl (RMB40-70) make for succulent dinners. Spicy lentil soup is complimentary, the Hui Muslim staff are friendly and the two large TV screens tuned to Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyah news channels will keep you abreast of the latest events in the Middle East while you dine.
This bar slash restaurant is undoubtedly our favorite watering hole in Xiaobei. A popular hangout amongst African expats and visitors to the city, Moustache Bar serves a mean grilled fish: the perfect meal to soak up the establishment’s super-cheap suds (RMB13 for a large bottle of Heineken). The lamb skewers on offer are seasoned with a zesty array of spices and cooked to near-perfection. Round out the meal with fufu (RMB15), a polenta-like staple from Nigeria, and close it all out with the oily sweetness of a West African classic: fried plantains (RMB15).
5. Sharma Ji
Established in 1999, Sharma Ji is Guangzhou's first pure vegetarian Indian restaurant. Serving Northern and Southern home-style favorites like paneer tikka (RMB40) and masala dosa (RMB45), this authentic eatery attracts a stream of regulars who flock there for its well-priced buffet (RMB60 for breakfast and lunch, RMB70 for dinner). Don't forget to finish off with a steaming cup of masala tea, yum.
Nestled in the upper reaches of Baohan Zhijie, Xiaobei’s main commercial and culinary artery, is Ankara. Though by no means the finest Turkish eatery the city has to offer (Ankara is a little rough around the edges), the two-story shop offers reasonably authentic renditions of Anatolian classics at a fraction of the cost of its glitzier counterparts. The baba ganoush and hummus (RMB22) are both winning dips for the house-baked bread (RMB5) while a whole range of mutton kebabs (RMB50) round out the extensive menu. Slather it all in creamy dollops of outstanding Turkish-style yogurt (RMB15) or wash it down with salty ayran (RMB18).