We totally pigged out at “Wai Po Jia”, or The Grandma’s House Restaurant (Hubin branch) in Hangzhou – appetizers, main dishes and desserts – we had everything. Wai Po Jia is a big chain restaurant in China with 40+ outlets in Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and more, serving typical Hangzhou cuisine and some of their own creations. The restaurant is very popular because food is good and at a bargain price too.
One unique dish that we tried – Fish with chicken feet and rice cakes (RMB 45). Who puts these kinds of ingredients together in Chinese cooking? The fish is the typical West Lake fish, deep fried and braised in savory soy sauce marinate.
The rick cake is something I haven’t eaten in ages – chewy and sticking all your teeth together, making it a palatable treat.
I thought the dish was amusing because of the strange combination. Tasty but the chicken feet need a bit of improvement because they were too tough and took up a lot energy trying to eat them.
The sauteed long beans with pepper corns (RMB 15) is simple with a spicy twist to an otherwise normal vegetable stir-fry.
Hangzhou being famous for ham and cured meat, the meats are of course worth trying. The steamed cured meat (RMB19) came delicately placed on the plate with marvelous colors of jade white and crimson red. The distinctive taste of cured meat is best when eaten with rice because it is extremely salty.
Sister Song’s Fish Soup (RMB 6) is similar to the Sichuan sweet and sour soup, in terms of shredded vegetables in starchy soup, but minus all the sweet and sour. Less memorable as there isn’t too much taste left after taking away the sweet and sour.
Our simple and healthy appetizers of lightly vinegared wood ear mushroom (RMB 12) and sea weed (RMB 8).
A peculiar dish we ordered – the green bean paste (RMB 10). Since it wasn’t listed under the dessert section I thought it was savory. It arrived with all the other main courses so it seemed a little odd as a sweet dish among the savory. It was nice though – creamy with a sandy texture that reminded me of sorbet, so I ended up using the dish as palate cleanser instead.
Even after eating so much, there’s always room for dessert! We had the Taiwanese jelly with mixed toppings(RMB 25) and sago with mango (RMB 22). The Taiwanese jelly dessert is enticing as always with all the yummy assortments on top. The sago with mango is a tad disappointing because we were expecting real mangoes instead of mango syrup.
The interior is stylish, trendy and the soft lighting just makes you want to order more food and sit longer! I think that’s why we ate so much.
Anything grandma-ish might be the cloths hanging on the walls when you go down the stairs, but I thought the cloths were some good quirky fun,
with all the pink lanterns, photo boards and chalk boards too!
The reception counter.
Wo Po Jia uses a self-service computer queuing system – where you key in your mobile phone number so they can sms you a few tables in advance (key in 8888 8888 8888 if you don’t have a China number), the number of pax you have, and you will receive a computer generated number, also letting you know how many tables are waiting before you.
The very first time we queued for it was on a Saturday (bad timing!), thinking that 6’o clock is early for dinner and probably there isn’t too many people around. Oh My God! – our number was 229, with 143 tables before us!! So we went back to Renhe Hotel which is just 3 minutes walk away to freshen up. We went back in an hour’s time – there was still 110 tables waiting before us. That’s crazy. In the end we ate at Ajisen Ramen next door.
The next day, we learned our lesson. Gary went back to the hotel earlier to rest at 4pm and that was when he went to queue for the number. By the time I went back at 6.30pm, it was just nice for dinner. No waiting! So if you want to eat at Wai Po Jia, don’t go on a weekend and grab a table number ahead if you can because there’s some crazy queues there!
More Info on Wai Po Jia
Wai Po Jia Official Website
Address: No. 3 Hubin Road, Hangzhou
Tel: 0571 85101939
Hunting Line: 4008 267 277