Food: 3.5/5 Ambiance: 4/5 Service: 4/5 Cleanliness: 5/5 Bathrooms: 5/5
Good to Know: English menu, service charge, 1 RMB for tissue and take-out boxes
Guanhai Restaurant has three locations in Shenzhen but I chose the one on Gongye 2 Road in “Zhaoshang Plaza” right across from Seaworld, Shekou. As you step inside the lobby, you’re immediately greeted by the soothing water sounds and colorful koi swimming beneath your feet. It truly was a small escape to nature. If you cannot live without AC, choose to sit inside by the windows under grand chandeliers, or in sectioned-off corners separated by modern Chinese screens for a bit more privacy. Reserve a VIP room for important business dinners. I chose to sit outside on the balcony and the fall breeze felt perfect.
This restaurant has high standards. Don’t be confused with having two sets of chopsticks. The white one is called “gong kuai” or roughly translated, “public chopsticks” used for shared dishes or when you insist that your guest try a dumpling. If you’re with close friends or family, just use the black one. I often look at how clean the dim sum baskets are at restaurants as they are reused over an over again. At Guanhai, they do do a thorough cleaning before going to the steamers again.
The bathrooms do not disappoint. There is no pipe smell, toilet paper is full in each stall, toilet seats are covered with plastic (not sure how it gets changed, though), and individually hand towels are prepared on marble counters.
Now, here comes the disappointing part. My “investigation” for the first blogpost didn’t get off to a good start. At every dim sum place, I order the usual suspects to test the quality: siu mai, har gao, and chicken feet. The siu mai came out raw! The restaurant was apologetic (no, I didn’t get it comped) and came back with another one. Overall, it was okay but I did enjoy the texture of the shrimp and the size of the dumplings. The har gao was subpar as the skin was too thick and felt pasty inside. The Portuguese egg tart is a must try! The crust is flakey and the faint burnt taste from the caramelization is a nice twist from traditional egg tarts. I just wish it was hotter when it was served. The star dish was the chicken feet. In my opinion, it is one of the harder dishes to make. The sauce is what makes it or breaks it. And at Guanhai, the balance between savory and spicy was on point. The skin still maintained its texture (and thank goodness the fingernails were all chopped off!).
It’s a great place to bring your guests who are dim sum novices. Would I go there again? Yes. Perhaps I will venture away from dim sum and order Cantonese dishes off the dinner menu.