When I first heard we were going to Hangzhou for the long weekend, I immediately thought of was West Lake (西湖）and fish- head soup!!!!! There are tens probably hundreds of restaurants around Hangzhou that make decent fish head soup, but if there’s one place that gets it right, it’s 山外山.
山外山(mountain outside mountain) is located in 8 Yuquan Rd, Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China- right in the center of the Hangzhou Botannical Gardens. It’s designed as a traditional Chinese villa with plenty of open space. Very beautiful and elegant in a traditional way. Plus, it’s only a 15min walk from Zhejiang University (My parents’ alma mater!!!).
The inside is equally well decorated with traditional Chinese paintings on the walls and good lighting (good for pictures at least). The restaurant can get very crowded and loud, but since we went on a weeknight, it wasn’t that busy. Nevertheless, it got pretty rowdy in the main dining hall downstairs. However, there are quite a few private rooms which are great for hosting parties. We were lucky enough to get a seat right by the window/balcony but it was dark so no pics 😦
Here’s just a brief overview of what we ordered:
This is the crown jewel of the restaurant. It features a HUGE and very fresh West Lake fish head with shrimp, greens, 3 types of mushroom, Chinese ham, fish balls and dried abalone. All these flavors meld together into a rich, perfectly seasoned stew. I would go to Hangzhou just for this dish, it’s that good.
This is a traditional and very common dish in HangZhou. It’s essentially a peice of red-braised pork, however, the meat is preferably at least half fat. It is extremely flavorful and rich, but a bit too salty. I personally didn’t like all the fat- too rich. The restaurant make it in single servings, which is nice.
This dish was a complete miss. The dressing was overly sweet and the vegetables were not fresh. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, don’t order western style food at a restaurant famous for it’s Chinese cooking.
Overall, the service was good. The food arrived extremely fast and the waitress was attentive . However, it did take some time before we actually got our order placed
Overall, it’s a superb restaurant. It’s the perfect place to host friends or large parties. The food’s great (if you know what to order) but comes in large sizes so the more people, the better. If possible, avoid going on holidays as it gets crowded, fast. However, as long as you make a reservation.
For more information, visit their website (Google Translate helps): http://www.shanwaishan.com/index.asp