Cantonese restaurant is a kind of Chinese restaurant which originated from Guangzhou , China. This kind of restaurant is usually known as cha lau (茶樓) or chau lau (酒樓) in Chinese, and is often known as seafood restaurant (海鮮酒家). This style of restaurant soon flourished in Hong Kong. Typically, Yum cha and dim sum are served in these restaurants, but one may find also different dishes of rices, noodles, siu mei. In the evening, various Chinese banquets of Cantonese cuisine are also held in the restaurant. As many Cantonese chefs emigrated from Hong Kong to the Western world, authentic Cantonese restaurants can be found in many Chinatowns. Many Chinese restaurants and take aways in the United Kingdom are actually Cantonese with few recognising the difference between Cantonese and mainstream Chinese.
Cha lau and chau lau
There are two main types of Cantonese restaurant.
- Cha lau (茶樓), lit. tea house, is a place serving only tea and dim sum. These long before the Qing dynasty; while
- Chau lau (酒樓), lit. wine house, is a place serving banquets. From the early 20th century, chau lau started providing tea and dim sum like cha lau. Thus only a few cha lau remain in business.
Nearly all the Cantonese restaurants provide yum cha, dim sum, dishes, and banquets, but their business are usually flexible and the foods varies from time to time. Some restaurants try to stand out by becoming more specialised, like hot pot, or seafood while some try providing other Chinese cuisines from Szechuan, Shanghai, Teochew, Hakka, Shuntak and many others.
These new kinds of Cantonese restaurants are quickly spread overseas and mainland China. It is often referred as Hong Kong-style chau lau (香港式酒樓) outside Hong Kong.