We ate in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant a couple of times and the food was very good. Dishes we tried included: shredded beef; duck with green peppers and broccoli with bacon; minced lamb and spring onions with pancakes; chicken and peanuts and stir-fried strips of potato - all washed down with an endless supply of jasmine tea.
Some of the other menu options were rather exotic: ‘delicious braised pig’s hoof soup’; ‘sautéed agglomerated pig’s blood with hot pepper’; ‘black bone chicken and Chinese caterpillar soup’; ‘braised donkey’s meat with lump’; ‘braised camel’s paw’; ‘assorted slivers of camel hump’.
Favorite Dish: The stir-fried slivers of potato were something I had never come across before, and were very tasty.
The night market is a great place to hang out and eat in the late evening. A hundred - mainly Hui - street cafes are set up, with every one of them vying for your trade. Beer and soft drinks are ice cold and the food is piping hot, straight off the skewer.
There are tourists - what do you expect in Dunhuang? - but many more locals along to exchange news on the days activities.
Take care over the prices though. We were stung by the cost of what seemed a very modest amount of food, and a group of us were left a little shame-faced the following morning as we discussed how we could possibly have spent RMB282 on a few beers and a few handfuls of skewered mutton. No matter how long you've been in China, never forget to establish the price first! Despite this, it didn't spoil our evening at all.
Both the main restaurant and the small Japanese restaurant at the Dunhuang Hotel are highly recommended. Especially - sigh - for 50-course banquets involving lots of baijiu. However, do take care as we discovered that we had eaten dog one evening. Some people aren't bothered by this, but it could ruin some people's holiday!
John's Information Centre is certainly getting the reputation as the backpacker meeting point and purveyor of banana pancakes. On the information side, this is a good place to pin up notes about shared journeys or day trips. Alas, the food is woeful.
It is a real pity, because given the lack of places where you can sit out AND have a bit of peace and quiet in China, you want this kind of place to do well. For a beer, John's is the place to come and sit and write those postcards, but the food is just poor.
Although I did go back two nights running because the pancakes ARE good.
There are copycat John's along the street but didn't try any of them. My suspicion is that although the ambiance is lacking (almost by definition when they are indorrs and have large-screen TVs playing), the food might well be better.
Just east of the turning down to the night market off Dunhuang's main street is a large entrance into an open-air food court with 101 tiny restauranst selling food from all over China. There are some slightly nicer ones with tables out in the square, and there are a few fountains around the area. Behind and to the left is the wholesale market, and a passageway at the back leads into the street where the night market happens every night.
We asked our guide to bring us to the famouse snack street in Lanzhou. On that street, you just randomly pick a resturant or stand, it will be over 100 years old.
A lot of the tranditional resturants there with good food only has one site on that street. They don't like to open chain shops (not like McDonald's :D). The food is unique and surprising cheap.
The most impressive resturant I tried is "Mao Zi Lu Beef Noodle". The best beef noodle soup I've ever had.
Walking east along Yang Guan Dong Lu, you will come across a gateway on your right. Entering the gateway leads you to the Night Market.
Along the street are lined with lawn chairs set around small tables. There are drink hostesses sitting at the head of the table to serve you beer, tea and other drinks.
Beware of over-charging!! But it's a nice way to unwind in the cool evening air of Dunhuang.
In a courtyard off to the left is a series of food-stalls. The rows of stalls sell identical food. Knife-cut noodles on one row. Spicy Hot noodle on the next.
There are scores of restaurants and kebab street-vendors around the Night Market too.
We used to stop on the way for lunch at some road stall. I remember them as pretty basic but undoubtely authentic. No coke, of course, and the beer bottles were always warm, as they didn't have ice or freezers. In fact, locals used to drink hot water with meals, so the concept of a "cold drink" was hard to understand for them.
The meals consisted generally on a soup and many little dishes on a round table, so U had to turn the table around to get your food. Only sticks, so U had to be quick or you would be let without food!!
Locals stared at us with curiosity, many of them gossiping and laughing... I wonder why! LOL