When asked to recall a trip to Sanya, many travelers would talk about the impressive subtropical landscape in this tourist city in southern China's Hainan island province. But to newcomers, the local cuisine is equally attractive.
As in many other coastal cities, seafood is a common in local cooking. Every evening, hundreds of locals and visitors swarm into a large market to eat freshly cooked seafood, where vociferous bargains mix up with heat from the boilers.
The four most famous dishes in Sanya are Wenchang Chicken, which is known for its tender meat and succulent bone marrow; Dongshan Lamb; Jiaji Duck with a special ginger, soy, and pepper sauce; and Festive Crab.
We enjoyed both the seafood and the chicken meal during our first lunch in the city.
After a long journey and tedious hotel transactions, we desperately needed a delicious meal to ease our fatigue from the sweltering weather. A local greasy spoon met our tastes.
We were well served. Wenchang Chicken really deserves its fame. With a glossy surface as well as a toothsome flavor, the meat is a feast for gluttons in both the eyes and in the mouths.
Coconut rice curbed our appetites with its fruit aroma and impressive taste. The rice is stuffed inside a coconut before cooking, then the shell is cut away.
We also had a taste of the ketchup made from local cayenne. It afflicted our tongues. Coated in yellow, the cayenne is popular widely among local residents and acclaimed as the spiciest plant in China, reminding people of a parallel between it with the cayenne from Mexico.
People now have more chances to taste the cuisine, as lots of food from abroad has entered the city. But for the tourists, the local, original dishes are the still top choices.
(CRI December 18, 2008)