Schooldays Restaurant (校园·你)
While searching for good food in Guiyang, I spend a lot of time wandering alleyways, going into places with good smells emanating from their doors. Other times, I recognize a name or a dish I’ve heard of and pop in to try it. The absolute best restaurants, however, are usually found by word of mouth. Sometimes, like with this restaurant, it’s off my usual path, and I would never find it without the help of a friend.
Schooldays Restaurant is a true gem, the type of restaurant that I spend my days hoping to find. It was so good that the very next day after a dear friend introduced me, I had to go back for more.
I usually combine the ATE and LOVED sections for restaurants that serve only one dish, or hotpot places where the minor ingredients don’t matter that much. Here, they are combined because there’s simply nothing I’ve tried that didn’t blow my mind. The entire restaurant is themed on the foods of childhood, the comfort foods prepared by loving hands that got us through the stresses of youth.
In the photo above, from the left, going clockwise, we ate:
nǎinai de tǔdòuní — 奶奶的土豆泥 — Grandma’s Mashed Potatoes
If you’re ordering these potatoes, I have a couple words of advice: get two. The mashed potatoes are topped with green onions and cuìshāo. Cuìshāo (脆烧) is cubes of fatty pork, comparable in flavor to bacon, salty and fried down to a crispy burst of flavor. The ingredients in this dish are good quality and come together to make a perfect potato dish.
xiǎo shí hou de wèi dao — 小时候的味道 — The Taste of Childhood (Rice)
Rice is a staple of almost every local meal, but the rice here is just delightful. Instead of the standard white rice, this rice is a savory and rich dish all on its own. If I had to guess, I’d say an egg yolk has been folded into hot cooked rice, creating an almost creamy finish. Regardless of the other dishes you order here, you’ll definitely want to get this on the side.
yándànhuáng chǎoyùmǐ — 盐蛋黄炒玉米 — Salty Egg Yolk Fried Corn
Here we have a corn dish that is great no matter where you order it, and Schooldays Restaurant does not disappoint. Individual kernels of corn are battered with egg yolks and fried. It’s salty and sweet, and goes great with the other dishes.
tángcù lǐjǐ– 糖醋里脊 — Sweet and Sour Pork
One of the Chinese dishes that most foreigners tell me they miss from their home country is sweet and sour pork. Pretty much anywhere overseas with a Chinese restaurant serves their own take on this classic, but it’s surprisingly hard to find in Guiyang. I know I’ve shared the version from Beijing Dumpling House, which remains a delightful dish, but the one at Schooldays Restaurant blows it out of the water. With a bright red sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, it looks just like the dish foreigners are familiar with from home. The pork quality is great, tender and juicy, and the sauce gets just the right balance of sweet and sour.
Hidden inside the campus of Guizhou Normal University (called Shida by anyone who lives in Guiyang), Schooldays Restaurant can be found by navigating the tree-lined streets of the campus. Enter through the main gate of the university, and walk straight down the main avenue all the way to the end. From there, turn right. Once you’ve turned right, there are two smaller streets. Take the left one, following it along the side of a building, and carry on up some stairs, across a small square, up another flight of stairs and turn left at the top of those. From there, you can see the black front of the restaurant atop a small hill. When you get to the restaurant, you’ll need to go up another flight of stairs on the right side of the building to enter. Follow the photos below if you aren’t totally sure where to go.
Below you can find photos from the menu of the dishes discussed here. On this visit there were three of us, and at first we ordered one each of the four dishes pictured above. This would have been a perfectly respectable and adequate meal for sane people. However, once we’d tried the food, we called the server back to get another order of the potatoes and the sweet and sour pork. This was foolish, and ended with us forcing each other to finish everything. It was too good to go to waste, so we did finish, but we hated ourselves afterward. Be smart, don’t follow our example.
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