Busses: Y4, 658, 324
Anyone who knows Hangzhou can tell you this is the quintessential tourist city. After a lengthy off-season hibernation period, followed by the eerily empty streets of Chinese New Year, there's a mad dash towards getting everything up to scratch for a prosperous new year. Local businesses anticipate an influx of meandering foreign visitors, busloads of Chinese tourists furiously clicking their smartphone cameras, and everything else in between. It's also a time when new restaurants emerge with eager owners getting ready to fire up the cash-counting machines, which get a heavy workout indeed. We took a drive to the countryside - the tea plantations of Meijiawu - where tourism takes those who crave a taste of China's tea culture. It's also a place where you can develop a healthy appetite after hiking all day, and there are certainly a variety of venues to grab a bite to eat. The real trick, however, is finding a place offering good value during the gold rush. We dropped in on the new Cai Cha Restaurant, and found it to be an inviting and quaint establishment with heaps of character. Once we settled in and pored over the menu, we got to work on a meal of Baotou Fish (包头鱼 48RMB), Whole Roast Duck (脆皮烧鸭 98RMB), Roast Meat Combination (烧味拼盘 58RMB), Fried Mustard Greens / Pork / Green Peppers (梅干菜揉碎炒椒圈 38RMB), Braised Tofu (窝烧豆腐 38RMB), White Gourd Soup with Bacon (冬瓜咸肉汤 28RMB), and Fried Leek Dumplings (韭菜香煎饺 4RMB, with six per order). Parking is available, and there is Wi-Fi available on the first and second floor. While the food had all the charm of rustic Chinese countryside cuisine, and the faux ramshackle was interesting, we think it's fair to warn you that an average-sized glass of freshly squeezed orange juice was priced at a jaw-dropping RMB48, which makes us wonder who did the squeezing, and whose getting squeezed. English menu and parking available.
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