Customers gather near Panxi Restaurant's front door. [Photo: cityknown.com]
Cantonese cuisine originated in Guangzhou and a number of its restaurants have used their time well to perfect their recipes. Panxi is one of those rare restaurants that manages to combine prestige with affordable prices. Inexpensive it may be, but that never stopped political leaders like Deng Xiaoping or George Bush from dining at its tables.
Built on the site of a Southern Han Dynasty imperial garden, the 90-year-old restaurant is reportedly China's largest in the forest style. The restaurant opens up onto Liwan Lake, and banyan trees and weeping willows are scattered about the periphery. Rock gardens and fish ponds continue the theme on the interior.
But what about the food? The chefs at Panxi may have seized a few gold medals at national and international competitions, but those awards have gathered some dust over the years. The menu can certainly pull in the guests; despite seating for 3000, an hour-long queue still manages to form outside. But a few people have wondered if the standards have possibly dropped a smidgen, or if other restaurants have simply upped their game.
The history and ambience of the Panxi are unmistakable draws, and the food is always decent if not exemplary. But what can people expect when the cost per head is usually below 80 yuan? On weekends, it's certainly enough to consistently fill the house for the ever popular dim sum.
Service is adequate, though servers may not be accustomed to helping non-Chinese speakers order food. Picture menus are available but not for dim sum.
However, if you want to have a quintessential Guangzhou meal in an authentic environment, then Panxi should definitely be on your list.
Address: No. 151, Longjin West Road, near Antique Street and Ren Wei Temple.