You don’t always have to travel to get great food and service in Shenzhen, though often you do. Love Life however is fantastic and less than a minute’s walk from home too. It’s a Cantonese style restaurant with an upmarket feel inside. The interior is decked out in faux dark woods and there are plenty of big comfortable chairs to relax on while you drink away an afternoon or work your way through the menu.
It’s worth noting that before you go the only alcohol they serve is Tsing Tao beer, which is available in big bottles (well chilled) for 10 RMB a pop. If you prefer wine or other drinks with your meal, don’t let that put you off the restaurant is perfectly happy for you to bring anything you want with you and there’s no corkage charge for drinking inside. If you forget, then of an evening, there’s a little wine bar next door which is open (oddly) between only 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. every day and they’ll happily sell you a bottle and lend you glasses to drink it from too. My friend Pete does this regularly.
As with pretty much everywhere in China it’s a smoking restaurant with no non-smoking sections, but don’t let that put you off. Unless we’re in there for a few afternoon beers, most people don’t smoke heavily.
The menu is easy for laowai to navigate, given that it’s all in pictures. We can recommend the Char Sui Pork, which while a little fatty is covered in as sweet honey glaze that makes it perfectly contrasting in flavors and textures. The duck comes with a fantastic plum dipping sauce and is genuinely excellent too. Watch out for the chicken though, you’ll need to be able to speak Chinese to get it right – it usually comes cold, and undercooked (curiously this is nearly always the case for chicken in China) and unless you like frozen and bleeding poultry you’ll want them to warm it up and cook it through for you. If you do this, then it’s also very good and the sage, onion and garlic sauce that comes with it, is to die for.
If you can’t get that over because your Chinese isn’t strong enough, then opt for chicken wings instead which are always hot and cooked through.
Love Life is good value too, with a meal for two including a few beers rarely costing more than 150 RMB. The owner is a very pleasant lady and will be only too happy to meet your requests (as long as they’re in Cantonese or Mandarin). She often cooks us an off menu roast potatoes, bacon and garlic dish which is just mouthwateringly wonderful and she ensures that meat is deboned prior to being served and that (if you know China) is a really big plus too.