Lu Family Restaurant(陸紀飯莊) is located just across from the popular Xihu Tiandi (西湖天地), serving traditional food of Hangzhou. The dishes that we ordered – shrimps with Longjin tea leaves (龍井蝦仁), West Lake Fish With Vinegar Gravy(西湖醋魚), Dongpo Rou (braised pork 東坡肉,) and Sister Song’s Fish Soup (宋嫂魚羹 )are classics that you will find in any restaurant serving Hangzhou cuisine.
Initially we wanted to eat at Xihu Tiandi, where classy restaurants and coffee houses are right next to West Lake. The area is big with a lot of choices – not always a good thing because we were lazy to explore after a long day. The restaurants also seem to cater more for tourists with multiple kinds of cuisine.
Hangzhou being the main production site for the famous Longjin Tea, it is no wonder that the shrimps with Longjin tea leaves (RMB 58) make an unique yet somewhat logical pair! I’ve never imagined the combination of tea leaves and shrimps together! The shrimps are fresh, lightly battered with an excellent springy texture. I couldn’t taste any obvious flavors of the tea, but maybe the remnant tea flavors had already infused in, making it an extremely palatable dish.
The West Lake fish with Vinegar Gravy (RMB 38) is a heritage dish with recipe thought to have passed on from hundreds of years ago with a story. There was one local bully that was eyeing on one man’s wife and eventually killed the man so he could marry her. The wife and her brother-in-law parted their ways to escape the bully tracking them. Before saying good bye, the wife made a dish for him- the west lake fish with vinegar gravy. The dish had a funny taste of sweet and sour and it was a way for him to remember to come back and revenge. The brother-in-law eventually became a local authority and revenged on the bully. One day, as he went for dinner at a function, he tasted the same fish which led him to find his sister-in-law working in the kitchen. They reunited and the story became a touching story to be passed on.
The dish may not be something that everyone can appreciate. When the dish has the name “vinegar” in it – the word is literal. At first I thought perhaps it’s some kind of sweet and sour but no, it’s pure, pungent, black vinegar diluted with starchy gravy, there is nothing sweet about it. The sharp sour flavor gave me a bit of shock because I really just felt like eating vinegar. Later on, I got used to it though Gary expressed his utter discontent for the dish. This is the first time I am trying the dish so I don’t know if the dish is supposed to be this sour or maybe the restaurant consider this as their secret recipe. The fish was ok with a muddy taste that still couldn’t be covered up by the heavy vinegar.
The “Dongpo rou” (RMB 10) or braised pork is a popular dish that you will find in Chinese Restaurants throughout the world. The dish originated from Hanghzou and was named after an important scholar – Su Dong Puo from more than 1000 years ago, as he was thought to be the one that invented the recipe. The meat is braised in chunks, absorbing all the herbal soy sauce marinate, presented in a rectangular shape with soft fleshy meat.
The sister Song’s fish soup is another dish passed on from hundreds of years ago that was Emperor Gaozong’s favorite dish back then. It resembles the Sichuan sweet and sour soup in terms of the starchy egg drop soup with shredded vegetables inside, but it’s a much much milder version that it is almost blend. I found fish bits in the soup though the taste is hardly noticable. I tried the same soup at The Grandma’s and it tastes quite blend there too – maybe the soup is supposed to be blend, or maybe the recipe got diluted as it’s been passed on for too many years! LOL!
We tried the West Lake Light Beer called “Green Rain” (绿雨) (RMB 10) and it’s seriously light even for an unoccasional drinker like me.
The restaurant has a simple one page menu serving classic Hangzhou dishes along with other simple stir fries, all at extremely affordable prices.
The drinks menu with soft drinks, beer and wine.
I like the utensils that come in a sterilized pack.
The restaurant has 2 floors, fairly small and has that “family” atmosphere to it, fitting only about 8-10 tables each floor. There’s no particular rules for non smoking so that’s the only part I didn’t like as the dude from the next table was puffing like mad.
There are two other restaurants side by side next to Lu Family Restaurant, also serving Hangzhou cuisine. It was an ini mini miny moe that we ended up in Lu Family Restaurant. Some of the dishes I liked, some are so-so though I am not sure whether they are meant to be that way! But overall I think the the restaurant is not a bad place to try typical Hangzhou dishes in a local setting at a good price.
More Info on Lu Family Restauant
Address: 252 Nanshang Road, Hangzhou, China (across from Xihu Tiandi) 上城区南山路252号(近大华饭店)