The first time I had Jinhua casserole was ten years ago. I remember it was a small restaurant near by Miduqiao Road; it was wintertime. I still recall the steaming hot casserole, the very delicious bone soup and the misty restaurant windows. Last month on my way home, I saw a big queue outside some restaurant on Yile road, but it wasn’t till a few days ago when I got a call to try out this restaurant that I realized it was a Jinhua casserole spot. Stepping through the door, all my memories came back from ten years before…
No more misty windows though. Liu Xia Lai is more colourful than I’d pictured a traditional Jinhua casserole restaurant. But the bone soup tasted exactly the same as ten years ago. Their soup is precooked for four hours before being brought to the table. The bones are from the pig’s hind legs and added to the soup is chicken bouillon and Chinese herbs. This isn’t casserole in the traditional sense. Actually, it’s eaten much like hot pot – you order fresh meat and vegetables and add them into the casserole yourself. But, we were instructed that it’s necessary to taste the soup before you putting in anything, so pour yourself a bowl of soup, taste the rich flavor from the bone marrow, and let it lead you to an endless aftertaste.
Liu Xia Lai is definitely an upgraded version of the one I had ten years ago. Order the signature Jinhua Casserole (金华砂锅) for 68RMB, and abalone, shrimps (they are still moving when they arrived to table), sliced black fish, tofu, youtiao, shrimp paste, lamb, beef and handmade fish cakes. That’s enough to easily feed four people. Don’t forget to suck the bone marrow! If you are not a big fan of marrow, ok, they’ve got other choices for you: the Duck Casserole (神仙老鸭砂锅) is 78RMB; Chicken Casserole (滋补药膳本鸡煲) is 68RMB; and Sichuan Beef Offal Casserole (川味牛杂砂锅) is 78RMB. They also serve dishes like Dry Pot Crab and Spicy Crayfish. To drink, they’ve got three imported beers: Heineken, Stella Artois and Peroni. The menu has some pictures but no English. Roadside parking is available.
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