Anchoring southern China as the country’s third largest megalopolis, industrious Guangzhou is a stalwart stop for business travelers. Whether you’re in town for the twice-annual Canton Fair (April 15-May 5; October 15-November 4) or just trying to impress a client, snag a table for a power lunch at one of these top-tier restaurants.
Jiang by Chef Fei
Though newcomer Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou is filled with elegant dining options, the star of the show is Jiang by Chef Fei. With the talented chef Fei behind the wheel, the eponymous restaurant has been lauded for its delicate and creative dim sum, bespoke tea pairings and beautifully presented Cantonese mains. It’s not just about looks here, though; the culinary wizard has won numerous awards for his innovative approach to Chinese cuisine. For a tour of chef Fei’s signatures, try the flaky goose-shaped dumplings filled with radish and pan-fried goose, the Canadian red coral mussels with kale, or the Australian sirloin with pepper and chili. Pull up a chair in the sleek main dining room, or reserve one of the eight private dining rooms – all with floor-to-ceiling windows and skyline views.
The striking entrance to Lai Heen, accompanied by the graceful plucking of a 21-string guzheng, augurs well for the epicurean experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou establishment. There are six private and eight semiprivate dining rooms, decked out in a tasteful burgundy palette with silver accents. Inspired by his family’s fungi business and childhood experiences exploring nearby forests, newly appointed executive Chinese chef Gordon Guo is all about using exotic ingredients – many of which you’ve likely never heard of. From rare grifola frondosa mushrooms to Yunnan tamarillo fruits to sea cucumber, chef Guo injects novel flavors into his Cantonese cuisine for a result that will surely pique your palate – or, at the very least, kick-start lunch conversation.
Yu Yue Heen
The crown jewel of the 103-story Guangzhou International Finance Center, the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou overlooks the budding Pearl River New City district from the 69th to 100th floors. On the 71st level sits Yu Yue Heen, one of Guangzhou’s most notable Cantonese restaurants. The décor takes a contemporary twist on traditional Chinese banquet halls, and includes eight exquisite private dining rooms for more confidential conversations. Helmed by Chinese executive chef Mai Zhi Xiong, Yu Yue Heen serves classic Guangdong cuisine with a few creative embellishments and a strong emphasis on seafood. Chef Mai brings his pristine 30-year track record to the table with sophisticated signatures like Yunnan-style poached sliced lobster, a juicy pan-fried star grouper in supreme soy sauce and braised beef cheek. If you’re out to make a great first impression, a meal at Yu Yue Heen should do the trick.
Set along Liwan Lake, Panxi Restaurant is a lot to take in at first: the dizzying complex comprises several banquet halls and tea houses interconnected by picturesque footpaths and arching bridges. Thanks in part to its idyllic setting among classical Chinese gardens and peaceful ponds, Panxi Restaurant is one of the most famous Cantonese fine-dines in Guangzhou. As you can imagine, the main dining halls get pretty packed, so be sure to call ahead and reserve one of the impressive private dining rooms. These intimate quarters are decorated with ornate woodcarvings, colorful silk screens and glittering stained-glass windows. The tome-like menu is a little overwhelming, so jump to the signatures: rabbit-shaped shrimp dumplings, crispy pork belly, pot-stewed pig tripe and baked crab legs.
Social & Co
Need a break from Chinese cuisine? For a Western fix, head to casual-chic Social & Co. One of the city’s latest additions, Social & Co marries a quirky sense of humor with a creative New Zealand menu. If the sun is out, snag one of the outdoor tables on the expansive patio for a side of people-watching to go with your meal. Otherwise, sink into one of the comfy leather booths indoors. As for the menu, choose from contemporary comfort foods like beef bourguignon, grilled grass-fed rib eye, pork belly or seared scallops. And those with a relentless sweet tooth may want to finish off with the signature pavlova with mixed berries – a crispy, airy and delightfully sweet Australian staple. If your power lunch calls for a little lubrication, choose from the hand-picked selection of antipodean wines.