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Creative Cantonese Cuisine at China Spice

For Cantonese cuisine lovers, dining at the China Spice restaurant at the Four Points by Sheraton Shenzhen offers genuine Cantonese flavors in unusual dishes.

The restaurant, formally opened this month, offers a cozy and relaxing ambience. The whole space is in a round layout, with tables in several round glass rooms, each with Chinese calligraphy engraved on the glass.

Round lanterns hang from the ceilings; round tables match well with the Western style armchairs; even the carpet has round dots, for symbollic of full and round "fulfillment."

Featuring trademark Cantonese dishes and chef Sam Sham's creations, the restaurant's menu gives priority to freshness.

"We value the natural tastes of the food and use few seasonings," said Sham, who has more than 30 years of culinary experience in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.

To keep the freshness of the ingredients, fish and seafood are often steamed rather than stir-fried; vegetables are cooked in the shortest time to keep them crisp. But the outstanding characteristic of the dishes is the combination of ingredients.

"Melons, fruits and vegetables are used in cooking meat dishes, which brings about a rich flavor, pleasant colors, and balanced nutrition. Moreover, the dishes are not oily at all with such combinations," said Sham.

The restaurant is now offering a complementary "yu sheng," or a Chinese-style vegetable salad with sashimi.

Radish, carrot, processed yellow pepper, deep-fried taro and jellyfish are finely chopped and presented with sashimi and seasonings, including olive oil, black pepper, sesame seeds and minced peanu to be mixed together.

In Hong Kong and some Southeastern Asian countries, the dish is served during the Chinese Spring Festival, and the mixing process is regarded as "pulling out good luck and fortune." Sham suggestes eating the dish standing up, since the higher you pull up the food, the more luck and good fortune you will have. Do not feel afraid of spilling food off the plate, as it means "having more luck and fortune than the plate can hold," Sham said.

After the starter, try the "bamboo pit", "yellow fungus soup". The dish uses green vegetables, bamboo pit and the rare yellow fungus, which is only found in north China's Shanxi Province.

The innovative "great chicken leg" is a must. The bone and meat of a chicken leg are carefully taken out; minced prawn, shark fin, celery, chicken and ham are stuffed in. The leg is deep-fried and served in well-prepared crispy tasting soup.

The pork rib with espresso is also recommended. A combination of Chinese and Western cooking, the dish has a strong coffee flavor. Deep-fried lotus root stuffed with minced prawn is served together, a good Chinese matching for the ribs.

Do not miss the potato puree with minced pork. Piled highly with broccoli in the shape of branches, the dish looks like a Christmas tree.

The restaurant also has a good collection of desserts. During the current promotion period, China Spice is giving a 15 percent discount until October 31.

(Shenzhen Daily October 21, 2005)

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