The favorite taste of Harbin people - Sweet and Sour Pork

Speaking of Guo Bao Rou, a well-known Northeastern delicacy, it is not only famous for its sweet and sour flavors, but also for its Harbin-style charm. In Harbin, almost every Northeastern restaurant will have a signature Guo Bao Rou dish. However, as more and more restaurants open, it is becoming harder to find authentic Guo Bao Rou. Today, we recommend several highly-rated Guo Bao Rou restaurants, some of which may be hidden gems hidden in corners.

Chef's home

Sweet and sour fried pork, originating from Harbin, has been around for nearly a century. It was invented by Zheng Xingwen, the great-grandfather of Zheng Shuguo, the owner of Lao Chushi. Zheng Shuguo's family has been in the culinary industry for four generations, and his great-grandfather was once the head chef at the Bingjiang Guandao Yamun (Harbin Datie Mansion) during the Guangxu era. Learning that foreign guests preferred sweet and sour flavors, Zheng Xingwen made improvements to the traditional stir-fried pork by using fruits instead of onions and ginger as ingredients, and named it "guo bao rou," which later became known as "guo bao rou" due to foreigner's difficulty in pronunciation. This time-honored craft has been passed down through generations, and today, both locations of Lao Chushi are always packed with customers queuing up for their famous sweet and sour fried pork.

Spring pancake snack

Harbin foodies love to go outside the city to find delicious food. When it comes to finding the best guobaorou (a famous Harbin dish), many restaurants can make it well. However, if you're looking for the most unique guobaorou, everyone would agree on Chunbing Snacks on Qiantang Street. This restaurant serves each dish slowly and in the order it was ordered, whether the restaurant is crowded or only has one table. Therefore, the guobaorou here is different from the ones served in large portions for multiple tables. The outer layer is crispier and the batter is more even. It's worth mentioning that despite its name, Chunbing Snacks no longer sells Chunbing (a type of pancake).

Old loyalty and righteousness

Renyi Restaurant is a well-known century-old establishment in Harbin, founded in 1912. Here, you can taste delicious and tangy beef buns. Originally, Renyi Restaurant did not have the dish "Guo Bao Rou" (stir-fried beef in sweet and sour sauce). However, in the 1990s, this dish became popular in restaurants all over Harbin. Therefore, Renyi's chefs followed the traditional method of thinly slicing beef, seasoning it with a sweet and sour sauce, and serving it with coriander, shredded onions, shredded ginger, and shredded carrots, creating a tasty "Guo Bao Rou". Even though Renyi's Guo Bao Niu Rou (stir-fried beef) has only been available for over 20 years, it has captured the taste buds of many diners and become one of the must-try dishes here.

Flavorful steamed buns king

Fu Jin Street in Daowai District has a small snack shop called "King of Fragrant Buns". Despite its small size with only five tables, the food inside is very distinctive. The shop only serves two types of buns, both made with fried mushrooms, and the other dish is the shop's signature Guo Bao Rou (pot-braised pork). Many people come to the shop every day, often having to share tables and wait in line. Guo Bao Rou is a must-have dish on every table. Although the appearance of the dish is average, its taste is extraordinary, with a perfect balance of sweetness and sourness, and a crispy exterior and tender interior. If you want to dine at the shop, it's better to come early as it closes after 12 pm. This is because the shop needs to ensure the quality of the ingredients and has to limit their purchase and sale every day.

Sweet and sour chicken fillet with Qizai's secret sauce

Just go to the Shida Night Market, and you can smell a sweet and sour aroma from afar. Along the fragrant path, you will soon find a stall called "Qi Zai Guo Ji Liu" where people are queuing up here no matter what time of the night. Why are there so many people? The reason is simple: the taste is good and the price is affordable, 10 NT dollars per serving. The owner of the stall, Zhao Yong, has been selling fried chicken fillets in the Shida Night Market since 2005. Due to intense market competition here, Zhao Yong started to think about improving the taste of the fried chicken fillets to attract customers. Inspired by Guo Bao Rou, Zhao Yong thought, "Since Harbin people like to eat Guo Bao Rou, chicken fillets with a Guo Bao Rou flavor should be popular." Soon, Zhao Yong's Guo Bao Ji (Pan-fried Chicken) quickly rose, surpassing all competitors in just three years, becoming a golden signboard in the Shida Night Market. At that time, Zhao Yong's stall had no name, and customers could only find it based on the sweet and sour aroma in the air. After a while, because he put some "Qi Zai" dolls that his friends were selling in front of his stall, a group of people came and now the stall is named "Qi Zai Ji Liu" (Qi Zai Chicken Fillet).