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More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

Updated: 2012-09-17 16:49
By Bi Nan (

More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

Staff at the Miao Wang restaurant wear traditional folk costumes of the Dong ethnic group [Photo provided to]

Not your average restaurateur, Yang Zhengxiang is also a cartoonist, exploring new avenues for food and fun.

It is the pure land in remote Guizhou province that gave irth to Yang, an enthusiast for comic paintings. When he was four years old, once he went to a pal's home and accidentally saw several scattered comics on the table. He felt an electric shock and set his mind to becoming a cartoonist.

Since then, he has marched forward on his comic-road resolutely. He was always seen drawing comics at school when he was young, and then went to an academy to learn painting. Finally by gaining the highest mark in a painting contest in Guizhou province, he was accepted into a key university in Tianjin to continue the study of painting.

More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

The restaurateur Yang Zhengxiang [Photo provided to]

He founded the first comic association at the university and organized the first comic exhibition among college students of Tianjin. After graduation, he established his own comic studio "firefly", and went through innumerable hardships, often earning only just enough to keep body and soul together.

People cherishing dreams never give up easily. Yang is still fighting for his comic dream, to produce more and more high-quality original comic works and to help the Chinese comic industry catch up with the rest of the world.

As a cartoonist, inspiration could spark at any time, and any surface turns into a drawing board. The walls of the restaurant become his paper and randomly picking up a pen, Yang can make beautiful pictures appear. These scribblings and doodles make for a low-cost but spectacular decorating technique.

Entering the Miao Wang restaurant, these Yang originals are not the only thing to catch our eyes; the interior decoration is characterized by the Dong ethnic group of China. Ox horns hanging high in the room, wax dyeing paintings in the passageways, and waiters and waitresses dressing in traditional folk costumes make for a visually stunning experience.

These waiters and waitresses come from Yang Zhengxiang's hometown, a small countryside in Guizhou, southwest of China. They are Yang's friends, not just his employees. They wear folk costumes and serve authentic Guizhou dishes, of which many ingredients are brought directly from their hometown. It is all a part of the restaurant's style.

Guizhou dishes are noted for their sour and spicy flavors, but tend to be lighter than dishes from North China. The sourness comes from naturally fermented grain, The taste is unusual, but said to be good for digestion and the skin.

This naturally fermented flavor may be the reason behind the longevity of the people in Guizhou. It has even been studied by medical experts for its health qualities. Suantangyu (Fish Boiled in Sour-Soup) is the dish that fully captures this interesting flavor of Guizhou cuisine, and it is the restaurant's specialty.

More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

Suantangyu (Fish Boiled in Sour-Soup) from Miao Wang restaurant [Photo/]

The fish should be Wujiang Fish, which is hard to get and has to be ordered in advance. The natural grain-fermented soup is additive-free. Furthermore, a kind of special ginger oil from Guizhou is added to the soup before the dish is taken to the dinner table to give it a fresh taste.

When the dish is taken to us with a small heater below, we are immediately attracted by its boiling, red appearance. The soup tastes acidic but not too much, seducing our appetite. The fish, tender inside, smells great and tastes delectable. One bite of fish, then one bite of soup, and we can not help eating more and more.

More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

Girls are singing Dong gallaox(L); Girls are toasting to guests after the chorus performance(R).[Photo/]

More than gourmet: Miao Wang Restaurant

An added bonus to the meal is the entertainment: a group perform Dong gallaox (a kind of mixed chorus of the Dong ethnic group), which showcases the enthusiastic, pure and optimistic nature of the Dong people. After the chorus performance, we are toasted with home-made rice wine by the chorus girls. Guests can not touch the cup, or he will be punished with more cups to drink. The resonant voices and the palatable wine cast our mind to the pure lands among lofty mountains and emerald rivers.

As a restaurateur, Yang aims to introduce his comics and his hometown to guests, and also to support his studio. "The process of creating works is hard, and often makes me feel lonely, so a restaurant with bustling crowds is an ideal place for me to communicate with the outside world and to satisfy my appetite," said Yang, a food lover, as well as a cartoonist.

A fusion of traditional ethnic culture and modern comics, the Miao Wang restaurant is a good choice to try local Guizhou cuisine and to enjoy beautiful hand drawings of Yang Zhengxiang.

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