Chinese food is all about balance – yin yang (陰陽) if you like – that's why a big Cantonese meal consists of both rich dishes like suckling pig and healthier fare such as steamed fish. The dinner that I had with relatives at Belly God (食为天) in Guangzhou is a fine example of this principle at work. Here are the highlights:
Often incorrectly described as pigeon in English-language menus, crispy squab (燒乳鴿) is a classic that is, in my opinion, done better in Guangzhou compared to Hong Kong. Sadly, this dish is rarely seen on the menus of Cantonese restaurants in the UK.
An example of a simpler dish that balances out some of the richer fare in a Cantonese feast is marrow topped with pork balls in broth. I particularly enjoyed the salted fish topping on the pork balls and the moreish broth.
The Cantonese are masters when it comes to roasting meats. Take for example, roast suckling pig (燒乳豬) with its juicy tender meat and brittle crispy crackling – a worthy centrepiece for this, or any, meal.
I have no idea what this freshwater fish (淡水魚) is called except that it was still swimming around in a tank shortly before it was put in a steamer.
The eel (sin 鱔) was braised with soy sauce and other stuff, but I can't remember exactly what. It was bloody tasty though, with the eel soaking up loads of flavour.
I'm not sure if Belly God serves dim sum, but if these pan-fried fish cakes (煎魚餅) are anything to go by then I'm sure they'd be damn good at it. As is often the way with this style of 'cake' or beng (餅), chopped water chestnuts are added to provide a crunchy contrast in texture.
Steamed prawns is one of those simple dishes that seem to be more popular in Guangzhou compared to Hong Kong.
And as you should've worked out by now, e-fu noodles (伊麵) are the noodles of choice for a big blow out Cantonese meal.
Belly God is definitely somewhere you should check out if you want a classier Cantonese experience in Guangzhou. In terms of the food, I struggle to think of any shortcomings, and it was only due to poor photography skills that more dishes aren't featured in this post. I can't recall how much it all cost, but I do remember that it was a bargain from a western or even a Hong Kong perspective.
For those of you without Chinese language skills, I'm afraid the menu is only in Chinese, although it did have loads of photos. That said, this restaurant strikes me as the kind of place that might have an English-language menu.
In common with 海雲軒, where I had dim sum, Belly God is located on Tianhe Bei Lu (天河北路), a well-known street in Guangzhou. The best way to get there is to hail a taxi and show the driver the address in Chinese:
食为天 Belly God
1/F Jinhai Garden, 614 Tianhe Bei Lu, Guangzhou, China