Cheap Eats: Shaxian Snacks and Home Cooking

26 Apr

So as you may know, our budget has been a little tight lately.  Fortunately, food can be obtained for cheap all over Guangzhou, if you know what to look for.  One of the best cheap/yummy combinations is the Shaxian Snacks branded restaurants.

As the story goes, Sha county (xian) in Fujian province is a very poor area with really tasty variations of common Chinese munchies– dumplings, noodles, won tons, etc. etc.  And when a man from that area opened a couple snack bars in a major city, they were an instant hit and since trademarks aren’t really a big thing in China, everyone started opening them.  There’s a county government “Snacks Bureau” which apparently tries to maintain a standard of quality for all the restaurants bearing its name.  I can’t imagine it’s easy, because there are freaking hundreds of these places in Guangzhou alone.  Someone even came up with a story to explain the real reason there are so many, if you can read Chinese or don’t mind Google’s machine translation.

Anyway, all you have to do is look for the red Pac-man looking logo with the words “Shaxian Delicacies” around it, and be able to recognize a few characters, and you too can get some cheap noms!

One side of the menu at the closest 沙县小吃。

One side of the menu at the closest 沙县小吃。

As you can see from the menu, just about everything is very cheap, averaging maybe $1 per dish.  They’re filling, and delicious, and this one, being close to the student dorms at SYSU, is very popular with students.  And me.

seriously, why do i look so gloomy?

I’m much happier about this food than my expression seems to convey, I promise.

And yes, that green stuff is, in fact, cooked lettuce.  And strange as it may seem to most Westerners, it’s fucking delicious.  Anyway, thanks to this place, I can fill my stomach for around 12 kuai (about 2 dollars perhaps?) and if I somehow have room for more food, there’s usually a Muslim guy selling barbecued meat skewers right across the street for 3-5 kuai, depending on what kind of meat you get.

Sometimes, though, you don’t want to go to a restaurant.  You want the comforts of home.  But you also want delicious Sichuan food.  I thought this was a problem, until I found a packet of Mapo Doufu sauce (enough for two dinners) at a nearby grocery store.  If I recall correctly, it cost about 5 kuai.  All you need is some water, minced/ground pork/beef (the pork was about 7 kuai for enough for two dinners), and then when I was ready to make it, I headed down to the neighborhood wet market and picked up some fresh bean-curdy goodness.

This will do!

This will do!

So one of those squares is enough to make one dinner for two people, although it might be slightly less than the packet calls for. Either way, it’s 2 kuai a pop.  Follow the packet instructions, fill up the rice maker, saute up some cai xin on the side, and voila!

(please don't sue me, mr. brown)

And that’s what I call…(cue music)…Good Eats!


  1. Les Says:

    Wow! I never would have thought picture #3 could end up looking like picture #4. Glad you’re not starving over there!!

  2. krysztov Says:

    Fresh Chinese tofu can be made into some delicious things.

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