Here are all the restaurants and bars we featured in our January 2020 issue:
Image by Matthew Bossons/That’s
While good ‘ol Canton is by no means lacking when it comes to quality Italian food, Bella Vita’s edibles are truly something special and make a visit worth the 45-minute Didi journey to Foshan. (Yes, we know, Foshan isn’t Guangzhou. Deal with it.) So, what to order? We dove into the signature set menu (RMB419), which includes tagliata di manzo, tonno, fusilli alla Norcia, patatine fritte and the Bella Vita tiramisu.
The tagliata di manzo, which is passionately touted by the manager, Tony Avila, is the meal’s centerpiece and is prepared with 250 grams of Australian rib eye with rocket, Grana Padano and a sweet balsamic reduction. While we are by no means steak connoisseurs, the meat is cooked as per our medium-rare preference and has a near-melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
In addition to the set menu, Avila also recommends we sample one the eatery’s award-winning ‘Champion’ pizzas. We opt for the 2018 Champion (RMB119 for an 8-inch, RMB238 for a 12-inch), a dough disc topped with bresaola, rocket, mozzarella, Grana Padano, dried egg yolk and mushrooms and baked until slightly crispy. Once removed from the oven, the pizza is adorned with a giant, creamy ball of burrata – the crown jewel of the ’za. With a dynamic range of textures and a medley of flavors (umami, savory, bitter) this pizza is the highlight of our first Bella Vita experience.
Who’s going: Foshan’s F&B crowd, families, friends of Tony
Good for: decadent tiramisu, family gatherings, world-class pizzas
Nearest metro: Guangzhou South Railway Station, 10 minutes’ drive
Image by Matthew Bossons/That’s
Staff at Hellas Deli – led by proprietor and Greek transplant Dimitris Karagiovanis – specialize in tender meats, refreshing salads and zesty sauces. When we visit, shortly after the restaurant’s official opening in late November, we immediately order two pita wraps, along with pita bread, tzatziki and a Greek salad.
The pita bread with tzatziki (RMB8/18) is a strong starter: Slightly crispy slices of warm pita bread accompanied by a substantial plate of tangy, refreshing tzatziki dip – the renowned, yogurt-based sauce made with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil and assorted herbs.
Three pita wraps are available at Hellas Deli: The pork souvlaki wrap, chicken souvlaki wrap and zucchini patties souvlaki wrap, all of which come packed with tomatoes, onions, French fries and tzatziki and cost a very reasonable RMB28. We sample the pork and zucchini pita wraps and both live up to our expectations – taste wise and portion wise. If we had to choose, we’d recommend the zucchini patties wrap, which will wow both vegetarians and meat eaters alike with its medley of textures and flavors.
Hellas Deli also cooks up a couple of spectacular Greek-style pasta dishes (pastitsio and moussaka) that are well worth an order, as well as a ham and vegetable pizza – a new edition to the menu (the dish was unavailable during our last visit).
Who’s going: Spartans, in-the-know foodies, pita pals
Good for: authentic tastes of the Mediterranean, friendly service
Nearest metro: Shixi (Exit B), 2 minutes’ walk
Image via @Out of Office/WeChat
Channeling the vintage appeal that’s prominently displayed in AMC’s award-winning series Mad Men, Out of Office (called 老板不在 in Chinese) is a welcome haven for the after-work drinking crowd. Tucked away on the 10th floor of China Plaza in Yuexiu, patrons will find this speakeasy accessible through a small office with floor-to-ceiling windows and a typewriter sitting on a large wooden desk. (You’ll first need to enter Hoppo House and turn right, the ’60s themed office will be on the left.)
Once you venture into the office and through the door, you’ll see a well-lit bar on the right-hand side of the establishment and office-style furnishings filling the cozy space. Along the back wall are desk-inspired tables for private chats, while the middle of the room consists of comfy, cushioned chairs. A private corner office space is also available for smokers – or executives pitching the next big advertisement campaign. (If you haven’t watched Mad Men, you should probably check it out before coming here.)
Moving on to Out of Office’s menu, guests will find a range of signature cocktails, spirits, wine and a couple beer options on hand. But, being a classy joint and having clocked out after a long workday, we sample the Mr. Draper (RMB95) and Live or Let Rye (RMB110). Both drinks come finely crafted, meeting our expectations for artisanal alcoholic beverages.
Price: RMB100 per drink
Who’s going: people with jobs, cocktail connoisseurs
Good for: vintage vibes, quality drinks
Nearest Metro: Martyrs Park (Line 1), 7 minutes’ walk
Image via Xiang Zhan bar
There’s a growing number of reasons to pay a visit to Yangji, with gin bars, siu mei slash cocktail lounges and more opening up around the neighborhood in recent months. The newest tenant: A craft beer-focused bar that serves quality suds at relatively low prices.
Xiang Zhan bar (which roughly translates to ‘Enjoy Station/Standing’) is all about beer. In fact, on our most recent visit, one of the partners tells us they don’t even sell food, just ice-cold brews. (Future plans do include adding bar snacks, however.) The brand is franchise-owned and boasts locations from Hangzhou and Wuhan to Shenzhen and now, Guangzhou.
While craft beer bars have become more prevalent throughout Canton, Xiang Zhan stands out – to us, anyway – due to its price point. The menu offers medium (330 milliliters) and large-sized (650 milliliters) glasses of brew for as low as RMB12, including Tsingtao, Belgian-style ales, as well as several craft beers from Chinese breweries. We test out the Lizard ‘Mouth Water’ IPA (RMB19/36) and a personal favorite – Fat Dolma (RMB28/52) from Shangri-La Highland Craft Brewery. The IPA has a pleasant citrusy taste while the Fat Dolma on draft provides the same malt and honey aroma with hints of banana and mango that we’ve come to love.
Who’s going: Yangjites, craft beer fans, penny pinchers
Good for: reasonably priced suds, takeaway beer
Nearest metro: Yangji (Exit B), 10 minutes’ walk
[Cover image by Matthew Bossons/That’s]