If there must be a headline above the signage of this restaurant, it should read “NO COMPLIMENTARY HERE.” The imaginary headline felt necessary because that phrase kept coming to mind while we were having dinner at Guangzhou’s No. 1 Spicy Hall 广州1号香辣馆 near Beijing Road in Guangzhou, China. It was the first and only restaurant during our vacation where we were hugely disappointed (read Service part below).

Review of Guangzhou’s No. 1 Spicy Hall 广州1号香辣馆 (Near Beijing Road, Guangzhou)

Ambiance: ★☆☆☆☆

Interior design was very plain and not up to the mark. The atmosphere suffered because of darkness and the stressful feel of the staff. Also, with cartons piled up beside the dining tables, the two-story restaurant did not look decent but dingy and far from spotless. 看起来那么老了,多年没重新设计。

Service: ★☆☆☆☆

Service was weird, choppy, and frustrating in multiple accounts. It was okay in the beginning as there was no wait time and the waitress quickly responded with food recommendations when we came in. (Note: All text on the menu were in Chinese, and the staffs could only speak and understand Chinese.)

Later, a complete set of plate, bowl, and cup wrapped in plastic, a glass of cold water, sheets of tissue paper, utensils (wooden chopsticks and spoon), and house tea were provided on the table as we moved to the dining scene. For the record, we assumed, as any regular diner would, that those basic items were complimentary for use. Little did we know that we had to pay for them on top of our orders. Seriously?

I talked to the staff and the owner, contesting that they should not charge us for things that were not specifically mentioned had usage fees in the first place. I then wondered if this is normal in China. We did not even touch the tea. In the end, only the plate, bowl, cup, utensils, and tissue paper remained on the bill, which summed up to RMB 6 per person, over the food items.

Lack of attentiveness and lack of support for customer’s needs were also seen as problems. It felt like we were in school again, as we needed to raise our hands to get the server’s attention many times. Without trying to make eye contact, servers continually walked by us. Our table was positioned just beside the main counter, so it was truly impossible for them not to see. Le sigh.


Food: ★★★★☆

广州1号香辣馆 knows how to do the classics right, and this plate of Pan-fried Dumplings 私房煎饺 (RMB 22) was a great example of that. There were better starters on the menu, but this one held us over just fine. With a hefty portion of flavorful pork filling, the dumplings were perfectly done with slight charred and a nice crispness on the skin. They weren’t at all oily, which was great, but maybe the pastry was a tad thick. Accompanying sauce was hot, giving that needed extra punch. 真心的美味,非常好吃,份量足够。

Next we had the Basil Chicken and Snail 紫苏田螺鸡 (RMB 48), which clearly took a lot of skill and technique to cook. It was exciting to eat, since the process of eating it was actually a lot like digging around in your back yard for snails and digging them out with a toothpick. The exquisite snail tasted like the bottom of the ocean. Glorious! 🙂

However, if you’re not a fan of something unusual, getting this may be likened as driving to a wrong turn or speeding off a cliff. Bounce back a bit with the chicken. Juicy and delectable, the basil chicken was slightly salty, sweet and strong. Taste was all-around excellent, but the annoying factor was it had too many bones. 🙁

Yangzhou fried rice rouses some sort of worldly must-eat-it-all instinct that’s almost impossible to quell. Similarly, the Guangzhou Fried Rice 广州炒饭 (RMB 22) or “Cantonese-style fried rice” was one dish we could not leave without ordering. The fried rice was salty and satisfying, with spiciness also kicking in every mouthful. Scrambled eggs, carrots, and chunks of meat were in the right proportion and size.

Price for Value: ★★★☆☆

While 广州1号香辣馆 is certainly a place to check out once for a unique dining experience, this restaurant didn’t leave us ever wanting to come back for more. With better ambiance and service, it could have gotten a more positive rating in this review.

In terms of food tastes though, there was nothing much to complain about. With the dishes we tried, we found ourselves stunned at how Cantonese cuisine can be super rich and decadent in flavor.

Guangzhou's No. 1 Spicy Hall 广州1号香辣馆
Yuexiu District 21 Road (near Beijing Road Pedestrian Street South Section), Guangzhou, China 越秀区 禺山路21号(近北京路商业步行街南段)
For inquiries, call 020-83399336
Date Published: 05/15/2015
9 / 20 stars


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

47 Responses

  1. Kristen

    I have never seen cups and plates wrapped up like that before. My husband travels to china for work a few times a year, and has never said anything about that. That fried rice looks amazing though. wow.

  2. Briton

    I have never heard of a restaurant charging to use their plates and silverware! That is ridiculous, in my opinion! I’m glad the food was so delicious to make up for the poor service and strange fees!

  3. Alanna

    I have always wanted to go to China! I am part Chinese. That food looks delicious! What a great review! Thank you for sharing! If I visit one day, I will for sure stop by there!

  4. Amanda

    Wow, this is such a strange dining experience compared to what I am used to in Chicago. Shrink wrapped dishes and silverwear that you were charged for? That’s insane! At least your food looked really great. I was salivating over your fried rice photo!

  5. Jeanine

    Wow. The cups, plates etc wrapped would definitely be a new one for me. I find it super strange they charge extra. However would you eat without them? Very strange. I don’t think I would like the snail dish, but the rice looks really tasty! I’m glad you at least enjoyed the food. The rest would Have turned me off I think and I may not have even stayed! Great review!

  6. Stephanie

    I actually laughed out loud when you wrote that you had to pay for the plates…what did they expect you to eat off of? Even before that you are far braver than I: I would’ve turned away based on the appearance and staff. When you go out to dinner, no matter the price. How in the world is this place still in business!?

  7. tammileetips

    I would not have thought that they would have charged for those items. The food looks amazing but that is crazy what you were charged for. I hope they listen to the feedback from customers to make it even better.

  8. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    This doesn’t look like a very appealing place and I wouldn’t have chosen to eat there at all. How strange that the cup and saucer was wrapped in plastic :/ At least you liked the food, I don’t think I could have eaten anything but friend rice.

  9. Nicci

    That’s so crazy to charge you for items they bring to you, regardless of whether you use them or not. Wow. But at least the food was good! Maybe next time you can order takeout?

  10. Jhanz

    So this is what you’re talking about earlier at 7 Flavors! I still find it weird that they have to charge for the usage of the plates. Although judging from your review, the food sounds like something that’s worth all the hassle.

    I love this review, super informative for those who might be interested to dine in at the area. 😀

  11. Miranda (Myrabev)

    What a shame about the service, what kind of restaurant doesn’t provide complimentary items for free that is absolutely ridiculous. I am glad you argued your point, I do love the look of the rice and might try that not sure about the main or starter.

  12. Kisa Johnson

    See I thought that the things covered up were for sanitation you know? But to charge you for them? Woah..
    I wouldn’t be able to do the snails, the idea of something tasting ‘like the bottom of the ocean’ made my stomach turn.
    Still, the dumplings and rice look delicious!

  13. Alli

    I’ve never heard of having to pay extra to use dinnerware! Too bad the atmosphere didn’t live up to the tastiness of the food. The fried rice does look good!

  14. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    What a bummer that you had a bad experience there. I hate when I am looking forward to eating somewhere and it ends up being a huge letdown.

  15. R U S S

    Making guests pay for the cups and plates is kind of odd. This is the first time that I’ve heard such arrangement. How do they expect their guests to dine?

    I don’t think I can eat the snail(s). Lol.

  16. Terry

    Really… How strange that they would charge you for usage of dishes. You would thing If you had to pay for them, you would have gotten to take them home with you. I wouldn’t want to go back there either.

  17. Christy Maurer

    That is so weird! Who would think you would have to pay to eat with plates lol. At least the food seems decent, but still, bad service and ambiance wreck all of the goodness of the food!

  18. Megan Elford

    The food looks good (although I’m not much for snails), but I’m afraid the quality of service is make it or break it for me. And paying to use the dishes? I don’t think I could handle that either.

  19. lisa

    That’s terrible that you had to pay for basic things without being told up front! I’m sorry you had a bad experience here.

  20. HilLesha

    Oh gosh, I have dealt with some unkempt and/or crappy service. However, I would have seriously walked out the moment I got billed for the utensils. They’re most certainly not a 4 or 5 star restaurant, lol!

  21. Digna

    That’s too bad the service was bad. It only takes one time for us and we would never go back.

  22. Liz Mays

    I think I’d be interested in trying some of the different dishes. That kind of service would be a big buzz kill though.

  23. Jenny

    What a horrible experience with the restaurant and the extra cost. That would be hard to find out after you used them that you had to pay for it.

  24. Sara-Jayne

    I love your reviews – and how odd that you had to pay for the usage of bowls and utensils! I’ve never heard of that before, surely that makes sense to be free and incidental to your needing to eat the food?

  25. Bonnie @ wemake7

    What interesting dishes. I love seeing new food I haven’t tried before. It’s too bad that the service wasn’t friendlier.

  26. Marie

    I need had been to any restaurant where you have to pay for your utensils, that should be on the restaurant itself. But oh well, I’m glad you still enjoyed your food.

  27. Rosey

    I hate when you can’t get the attention of a server. On the rare times that happens it really is annoying and it really does stick in your memory, even if the food is good.

  28. Lynndee

    I love fried rice, but I haven’t tried it spicy yet because I don’t like spicy foods. I’m interested to give it a try though. But the snails? Ewww…I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to eat even one. LOL.

  29. Jenn @TheRebelChick

    It’s really hit or miss when it comes to finding a great restaurant while traveling, isn’t it? And sometimes the food will be great but the service is poor, or it’s the other way around! This is one of the reasons why I check reviews and usually have a snack or two in my purse!

  30. Chubskulit Rose

    At least some of the food tasted good as opposed to the service. h well at leat next time, you won’t go there again when you visit China.

  31. Rebecca Swenor

    This sounds like it would be an amazing place to eat but the service needs to be much better. I totally agree with you about have to pay for the dishes. They should specify you have to pay for them. The Pan Fried Dumplings sound and look totally delicious for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Lauren

    Making guests pay for the cups and plates is kind of weird haha. This is the first time that I’ve heard such arrangement. How do they expect their guests to dine?

  33. CourtneyLynne

    hehehehe this is the second time I’ve ever heard of a place charging for silverware and plates… I spent some time in Japan afew years ago and we took a weekend trip to Kobe & dined at a random local restaurant and they charged us to use plates! My hubby. And I kinda laughed it off… But ever since then we constantly bring it up because it’s just so odd!

  34. mindy

    HUH??? WTH??? We must pay for the utensils??? WTF? Should we like, bring our own if we don’t want to pay? That is the most ridiculous thing ever and i am fuming just from reading your post! It’s crazy unbelievable! Although the food looks good, i would definitely not go here, i’m sure there are more decent restaurants (that wouldn’t charge you for utensils!!!) that serve food as good as theirs!

  35. Erin

    Wow! I’ve never heard of charging for dinner ware. And I’ve never had snails either! But I think it must go on my list of things to try.

  36. Tonya C

    Oh man, everything looks so delicious. Especially the fried rice and dumplings!

  37. Gabriel

    Charging for dinnerware is pretty crazy. Nice thing about China though, you never have to eat in the same place twice. Ever. My mom spent a couple of years working there and she said you could probably eat somewhere different every day of your life and never eat in the same spot twice.

  38. jared's mum

    i have never heard about restaurants charging their customers for the use of spoon, forks, and other dining essentials, but then again i am not familiar with how things go in China. apart from the extra charges, i thought all the food you tried looks delicious!

  39. Eileen

    Those dishes look delicious! I have a total craving for chinese food now! I’ve never heard of having patrons pay for their own cultery though.


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