A farm restaurant in Tangxia, China

I have mixed feelings about this place.

It’s a restaurant where everything you eat is grown in-house, including vegetables, livestock and seafood. The Cantonese-style cooking is superb and you can be sure your food is fresh.

The restaurant is situated in the farm itself, so you can take a tour and see for yourself the vegetables, the animals, the fish… before they are removed to be cooked.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

I think it’s read as Hui Li (or Li Hui. I don’t know). That’s the name of the farm-restaurant, or whatever you call it. It’s situated in Tangxia (a very small town in Dongguan, China).

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

It’s not that you get to pick what you want to eat and they slaughter it on the spot for you. I think the owner allowed us to wander about to visit the animals because he knows Isaiah, our friend who brought us there. (But maybe he allows people to walk around anyway because he seems the friendly, easy-going sort.)

It’s just that it’s a little weird seeing the live counterparts of the animals that you know you’ll be eating later. I feel a bit guilty, even, although I’m not about to get all noble and swear off meat forever.

I still enjoy eating meat. I just don’t really want to pay them visits and grow attached to them just before I eat them, you know?

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

This goose was playing with a hanging hose. It was rather cute.

I think we had a goose dish at dinner.

We didn’t order chicken.

We saw a bunch of black chickens that had really funky hairstyles. The Goonfather thinks this one looks like Unker Kell:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Running chicken:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

We also saw two rabbits along the way.

We rationalised that, since there were only two rabbits in the whole place, they must be pets rather than food.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

The pigs were quite smelly. And scary. Because they oinked a lot. And they were enclosed in a rather dark shed.

But they weren’t as smelly as the elephants we visited at the zoo two days later.

These are little black pigs (or something). We ate them. Not them in this picture, specifically, but probably one of their brothers who had already been slaughtered.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Normal pigs:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

You don’t see the animals if you just walk into the restaurant and hang around there. (The animals are deeper into the compound.) What you see will be the eating areas, lots of greenery, and tranquil, still waters.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

And the food.

Goose:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Vegetables:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Bean curd:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Pork:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Fish:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Since it’s Cantonese-style, nothing is spicy and everything is less salty than the usual Chinese fare we ate most of our trip (mainly Hunan-style and Sichuan-style). But it’s still tasty. You feel a bit healthier eating here.

But I guess I still prefer the spicy food. There’s a Hunan restaurant Isaiah brought us to in Changping which was great but they didn’t allow me to take photos so I can’t share them. But I did take pictures at another Hunan restaurant so I’ll share those another day!

Get a massage in China

I was never a spa person. Never liked going to salons or spas for any kind of beauty treatments or pampering. (Mainly because I’m very ticklish and because I hate sitting still for hours doing nothing.)

But that’s kinda changed since my few trips to China in the past year. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for being pampered.

The first thing you’ll notice if you go to China is that there is an abundance of spas and massage centres everywhere. Most of the time, they occupy an entire building and look either grand or beautiful or both.

Spa in China

Spa in China

Spa in China

Just walking into one of these places can already make you feel better by half. (But only the building and the reception areas look grand. The rooms where you receive treatment are usually plain in comparison.)

More importantly, the therapists/masseuses are very skilled and make you feel like you’re in good hands. And then there is the fact that everything is incredibly cheap. You can get a good massage for S$8 an hour.

Spa in China

So, the last time I was in China (in January), we went to Tangxia for one night and spent some time at the foot spa. Foot spas, where you get a full body massage as well as a foot soak and massage, are very popular in China.

We got to choose the kind of herbs/flowers for our foot bath. Mine came in this pretty box:

Spa in China

The feet are soaked in a little tub that has a Jaccuzi feature. While your feet are soaking, you get a body massage.

Spa in China

Foot spas are a great way to spend an evening in China!

Spa in China

Following our massage, we went for a hair wash at a salon just across the street from the foot spa. There, I received the best hair wash I’ve ever experienced.

We took a private room for four. It has a row of “beds” with big basins attached. The basins are where the heads go, of course.

Spa in China

I loved the feeling of the therapist’s nails scratching my scalp. Somehow, she knew the exact pressure to apply so it was comfortable and not painful. There was also a scalp massage, followed by some hair treatment thingy which they call “water therapy”.

That was about an hour of pampering, which is a lot more massage than you get from a regular hair wash at a regular salon.

After the treatment, we were each assigned a stylist who dried and styled our hair. Hair cuts can be requested, too, at this point.

Spa in China

Here’s what my stylist did to my hair:

Spa in China

Kinda cool, but impractical because it renders me half-blind by my own hair.

This hair-wash-head-massage-hair-styling set us back about S$10 or so.

The therapists/masseuses/stylists in China are mostly friendly and would chat with you and ask about you. But the one disconcerting thing is that they all use numbers instead of names to identify themselves.

Of course, they would tell you their names if you asked them, but they would prefer you to call them by number. If you like them and want them to service you again the next time you visit, you’re supposed to request for them by number.

(Update: Kell just reminded me that even amongst the staff themselves, they call each other by numbers instead of names.

Which reminds me that when I asked my stylist what his name was, he actually looked taken aback and then mumbled his name after a bit of a pause, followed by quickly telling me his number and stating that I should address him by number, instead.)

A little dehumanising?

You can go to China and live like a king for a few days (or weeks if you can afford the time) without needing a lot of money. Food and lodgings are cheap (and good) and you can always fly budget air.

I’m thinking I want to pay another visit before the year is up!

This is how they eat soup tulang in China

I think this was in Tangxia, a small town in Guangdong, China. (I always forget little details like that, which is why I’m a blogger and not a journalist.)

Isaiah took us to this huge restaurant. It has a main hall like a hotel’s banquet room and then it has another storey or two that houses countless private dining rooms. You could get lost in there.

Restaurant in China

But only the staircase looked grand and beautiful (in an outdated manner). We were shown into a rather dirty and cluttered room to wait while they prepared another room for us.

Restaurant in China

Our room had a poster of Chairman Mao. It was all very quaint, as if we’d stepped back in time.

Restaurant in China

But the food was delicious. Isaiah ordered a feast for us and there was only one dish I didn’t like, which was the mutton tulang. I gave it a try, anyway, because they give you straws and disposable gloves to eat it and I thought that was kinda fun.

Mutton tulang

First, you scoop out a piece of bone and put it in your bowl.

Eating mutton tulang

Then hold the bone with your gloved hand and start chewing up the meaty, gooey bits on the outside.

Eating mutton tulang

When done, poke a straw into the hollow of the bone.

Eating mutton tulang

Suck up the marrow!

Eating mutton tulang

It’ll be hard to suck everything up all at once, so you pour some soup into the hollow and then mash up the marrow a bit with your straw before attempting to suck again.

Eating mutton tulang

Rinse and repeat till it’s all gone!

I didn’t really like the taste so I didn’t finish my bone. Isaiah was the only one eating the whole pot by himself cos the other girls refused to even try it. Haha.

Here are some of the other dishes that we ordered which were so good.

Prawns on a skewer:

Prawn skewers

Tender pork pieces:

Pork pieces

Two-face fish:

Fishie!

The Chinese are really good at spicing their food. All their dishes are so full of flavour that it’s truly a joy for your tongue with each bite. Peppercorn is a favourite ingredient, although it’s more tongue-numbing than anything else. But I like it!

On the subject of food, may I entice you to check out my Star Blog post this week?

It’s quite a fun topic, although I had some trouble writing it because I’m such a glutton.

Read it here: “Yucks! Why I hate these 10 types of food”