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According to a national survey, the average Cantonese spends ¥4,413 on dining out annually, which is three times as much as the average Shanghainese, and a whopping seven times more than the national average. While it is Cantonese cuisine that captures the headlines, the local passion for eating has ensured that an eclectic mix of international flavors has established a presence here. Not only does Guangzhou provide the chance to sample many provincial cuisines, an abundance of Asian, Middle Eastern, and even European creativity can now be tasted here. Guangzhou's expat community has changed rapidly in the last few years and this can be seen in the number of international cuisines available. Overpriced generic brands such as the Hard Rock Cafe were not able to survive here but have been replaced with a wide variety of flavors, from Caribbean to Syrian.

Outside of the five stars, the world famous Cantonese cuisine might be a serious disappointment. Apart from concerns about toxic ingredients such as melamine in the dairy products and formaldehyde in the beer, it is important to remember that fine dining was seen as reactionary during the Cultural Revolution and its most skilled proponents were all summarily dispensed with. Generally speaking the culinary arts have never fully recovered and the highlights are now more to do with the visible cost of a dish (and the status that it therefore conveys upon the customer) than the actual quality or even the taste. Thus we are left with nouveau riche favorites such as bird's nest soup (the consistency of wall paper paste) or the other great favorite, shark's fin soup, which is contributing to the extinction of the ocean's apex predator, with literally millions of these magnificent creatures being needlessly slaughtered each year solely for their fins. Do your part, and don't order it.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.