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Louwailou Traditional Restaurant

Louwailou Zhejiang cuisine is one of the eight famous culinary arts in China. The fresh, tender, soft, and smooth dishes accompanied by its mellow fragrance have won for itself widespread reputation in the culinary world. Hangzhou dishes, being the most important part of Zhejiang cuisine, are noted for its elaborate preparations, sophisticated way of cooking and its most refreshing taste. It is not only delicious but extremely elegant in appearance also. The local specialties include Beggar's Chicken (an entire chicken cooked in a ball of mud), West Lake Fish in Sweet Sour Source (vinegar coated fish from the lake), Dongpo Pork (braised pork) and Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea Leaves, and many others.

Louwailou Restaurant. Louwailou, literally "a house sets outside another building"in Chinese, a famous restaurant located at the foot of Gushan (Solitary Hill) near the beautiful West Lake, Hangzhou, has a history of more than 150 years. It is well-known at home and aboard for its "enjoying delicious dish and beautiful scenery together".

The restaurant has three sayings of its founding date: in the years of Daoguang, Tongzhi or Guangxu of Qing Dynasties. But it is commonly believed the founding date was in the 28th year of Daoguang Emperor (1848 AD). The owner of this building is Hong Ruitang, a literator who had failed the imperial examination. He and his wife moved from Shaoxing to Qiantang after the death of their parents, and resided near the Xiling Bridge on the foot of Gushan Hill, made their living by boating and fishing. They attained professional skill in cooking fresh fish and shrimp in their hometown Shaoxing, a place where lots of fish ponds and rice fields. So they selected good fish and shrimp to make delicious dishes and to sell them in the street. When they noticed that there were no restaurants along the area, they began to save money and opened a small restaurant located between Yulou and Xiling Yinshe (Seal Society) near Liuyi (literally "Six-One" Fountain).


As for the naming of this restaurant, it is said that there were two opinions. One was that the boss having got inspired from a poem written by Lin Sheng, a poet in Southern Song Dynasty. It runs as (literally) "the Green Hill Besides the Mountain and a House Sets Outside Another Building, Ceaseless Dances and Songs Along the West Lake, the Breeze that Makes Us Inebrious, and We are Feeling Like in Bianzhou (in Henan Province) Instead of Hangzhou!"Thus "Louwailou"is come from this poem. Another opinion was that because the restaurant was located in front of Yulou, a building owned by a famous scholar, Yu Quyuan. Mr. Hong Ruitang asked Mr. Yu to name his restaurant. Mr. Yu said, "Since your restaurant sets outside of my house, we may refer to Lin Sheng's famous poem and call it Louwailou."These two parlances have both enhanced the cultural curiosity of the restaurant.

The restaurant has served many famous personalities in history including Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Premier Zhou Enlai and writer Lu Xun. There are well-known traditional dishes such as West Lake Vinegar Fish, Dragon Well Tea Shrimp, Beggar's Chicken, Lady Song's Fish Soup, Dongpo Pork and many typical dishes of Hangzhou. Louwailou is the restaurant of best reputation in Zhejiang Province.

Location: No. 30, Gushan Road, Hangzhou

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