China is famous for having some of the world’s most delicious and diverse range of cuisines. However, after eating this day in, day out, there’s always an abundance of non-Chinese eating options available to teachers and expats looking for a little home comfort! This week our resident blogger, Zoe, fills us in on the best ‘non-Chinese’ food options available in Shenzhen…
Unpopular Opinion: I think Guangdong Province has the worst type of Chinese cuisine in the
entire country. I hate it.
Traditional Guangdong style food takes the form of steamed rice, greens and often some type of
stewed meat. Compared to the delicious noodles dishes of the north, the yumcha ‘small eats’ of
Hong Kong and the spicy goodness of a Sichuan hot pot, it is bland and boring. I would gladly eat
any other kind of Chinese food during my free time, especially after eating traditional cuisine
everyday at school. Shenzhen is both a blessing and a curse in this regard; there is just so much
choice in this city, including both Western and Chinese cuisines. I often spend every weekend
trying out new restaurants and cafes. I personally like to try and eat as many Western or Asian
(like Korean or Japanese) foods as I can because I always find the interpretations of these dishes
far more interesting than trying Chinese food. I can’t necessarily tell the difference between a
good or a bad hot pot yet, but I can tell you the difference between a Chinese-style pizza and a
Western one. Although the city centre is a great place to eat, I like to try and stay in Western
Shenzhen. The further you get away from the Hong Kong border, the more likely you are to find
hidden gems and aren’t widely publicised online. The city is also growing at an unprecedented
rate; the places I am writing about now may not necessarily be here in a year’s time!
Uniwalk, Bao’an Centre
In Bao’an District, Uniwalk is considered as the best place to go to find any and all types of food.
The prices are reasonable and there is plenty of choice, particularly if you are looking for
something other than traditional Guangdong cuisine. I live only twenty minutes away from this
area, so needless to say it’s somewhere that I spend an awful lot of time in!
I adore this restaurant! Although this is technically a famous Japanese chain restaurant, it is
difficult to find outside of Japan. Essentially, this is a cook-it-yourself tepponyaki restaurant where
you can cook your chosen meat (I’m a huge fan of the beef hamburger) to your chosen taste using
the heated griddle pan your meal is presented on. You can customise your order, selecting
sauces, whether you want omelette or vegetables or even if you want a side of soup or mashed
potato. I have become a little boring at this restaurant because I discovered the curry omelette
rice a few weeks ago. Now, that’s all I ever want to eat, I can’t get enough of it!
Okay, so Bingshi Burger makes probably the one of the best burgers I have ever eaten anywhere.
They are a small, independent business which got started after the owner began craving the ‘dirty
burgers’ he’s grown accustomed to eating while studying abroad in Australia and then when he
was unable to find them, decided to make his own. They have a milkshake menu reminiscent of
Shake Shack or In-And-Out Burger and amazing fries too. Do not even get me started on the
burgers; my order is almost always a Cheesy Bingshroom, combining traditional Chinese spiced
mushrooms with cheese, mayonnaise, bacon and Australian beef. Amazing.
Despite the slightly strange English name, ILOVEPASTA is a pretty good place to go to get a
carbonara fix if you want something simple and cheap. I would hardly call this place authentic
Italian – they often use regular egg noodles as opposed to pasta in some of the spicier dishes –
but it’s an interesting interpretation of how China makes Italian food. The English language
translations are also something else; ‘pasta of the egg juice parma’, anyone?
Blue Frog is everything you’d want out of a diner-turned-bar. They do breakfast, they do brunch,
they do burgers, they do steak. If you can name it, it’s probably on the menu. I find this place to
be sometimes a little too crowded, particularly during its famous 2-4-1 Burger nights or cocktail
tasting parties. I enjoy coming here during their ‘Try Something New’ offers as it encourages you
not to just order the same burger that you always have and go for something different. Today, we
visited during its brunch hour and sometimes you don’t realise how much you are craving a good
eggs benedict until you have it.
If we are talking about good food, I feel it would be morally wrong not to give a quick shout-out to
Shekou. This is about as foreigner friendly as Shenzhen gets, with all kinds of options for decent
food and drink. I often come here during the afternoon because I like wandering down by the
coast but in some ways that limits the options for food that you can have as many places don’t
open until late. In fact, most of the Chinese restaurants here are some of the latest to open so I
can’t say I’ve ever eaten there!
This one’s for the Brits that find themselves out in Shenzhen, desperately missing the humble
pubs from home. McCawley’s is traditional Irish pub and is especially popular with expats and
locals alike. I have never been in there and it’s not been busy, so definitely try and get there early if
you’re going for brunch to ensure you have a table. I seem to always get breakfast whenever I go
there. I think is the promise of hash browns that always sways me. My friends have been slightly
more adventurous than me and they would recommend the sausage and mash or any of the
Essentially, this restaurant exists as a place to sell German beer and they really have gone crazy
with the decoration and styling. The staff even have to wear traditional German dress when they
serve you, which needless to say is a pretty bizarre experience. The menu is full of German
classics, including schnitzel and currywurst, but I think this is somewhere to visit once for the
Baia Burger Concept
I feel like you are either a Bingshi Burger person or a Baia Burger Concept person. Don’t get me
wrong, Baia still makes a great burger! I love the variety of different burger you can get here. If you
like spicy food, their Sichuan inspired patty is a must-try but definitely buy an iced tea to wash
down the burning flames of a thousand chillis down to go with it.