Bian Lian “Face Changing” Performance

Ba Guo Shu Feng Restaurant

Last Friday after work I went out for a friends birthday at a Sichuanese restaurant called “Ba Guo Shu Feng” in Shenzhen. Situated in a rather up-market shopping mall the interior was very nicely done with traditional decoration and ornate lanterns hanging from wooden panelled walls.

Very Spicy

As you might expect all the dishes were very spicy. We tried eggplant, beef with vegetables, dumplings, noodles and a sort of salad (top right) which turned out to be one of the hottest things I’d ever had!  All the food was pretty good and beautifully presented although a strong stomach is needed for all the chillies.


During the evening the restaurant also had a performance of “Bian Lian” (meaning “face-changing”) which is an ancient Chinese dramatic art that involves performers wearing brightly coloured costumes and moving to quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly coloured masks, which they change within a fraction of a second. It’s quite an impressive feat which is hard to capture as they move so fast!

Green Face

The changing faces reflect a character’s mood: for instance, red represents anger and black represents extreme fury. The exact method by which the performers change the face is a closely guarded secret that is passed down from generation to generation (males only) although it is believed that most involve wearing silk masks in layers that can be pulled off one by one.

The Food Was VERY Spicy

After changing faces the performer proceeded to fire breath as well which felt somewhat dangerous in an enclosed wooden space but thankfully China hasn’t quite caught onto “health and safety” regulations yet. A fun evening was had by all 🙂

David avatar

11 responses

  1. yaoyao avatar

    Amazing Food!
    Bian Lian is a kind of magic.Quite diffcult to learn it.

  2. Kathleen avatar

    Hi David,

    Greetings from Malaysia! I really love this blog.

    I am planning to come to Shenzhen soon. Can you tell me how much do you have to pay for the performance? And how do I go there? Is it far from the town? I plan to take the MRT from HK to Shenzhen.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Warm regards,

    1. Hi Kathleen – thanks for your comment!

      The performance was inside a restaurant (link in the post above) so was free. The place is a short taxi drive from Shijiezhichuang (世界之窗) metro stop on Line 1 in Shenzhen.

      Hope you can find it ok 🙂

  3. Kathleen avatar

    Thanks alot David! I hope so too 😛

    Is it open on Monday, or only weekends?

    Do you think I need to make advance reservation? Just in case 🙂

    So what was your favourite dish?


    1. I think it’s open 7 days a week – probably no reservation needed – the performance was in the evening so you might want to check with them if/when it is on.

      To be honest I don’t remember very well about which dishes I had but most of them were very spicy so be prepared!

      1. Kathleen avatar

        Ahhh interesting! Sounds great! Love good and (super) spicy food and cultural performance!

        Would you by any chance have the contact details of this place? I browsed through but I can’t read Chinese (though I can converse well in Cantonese and Mandarin.

        I have been trying to ‘google’ it but to no avail. Unfortunately, there is very limited information available on the Internet about this performance. Honestly, I only found two website (including your blog). Otherwise, piecemeal information and briefly mentions about it.

        Ps: Should be going there right after CNY 2010

        1. This looks like the phone number – 028-85551168

          Hope you check back once you’ve found it/been there and let us know how you found it!

  4. Kathleen avatar

    We were informed that this restaurant is now only open on weekends, is this true? 🙁 I hope not!

    I have been trying to call that number – let me know if I have dialed the correct IDD + Number:

    0086 755 28 85551168? Is this correct?

    Thanks man!

    1. Sorry for the late reply – that number looks correct but to be honest I was only going off what was on the website.

      1. Kathleen avatar

        No worries man! Will try to “google” it instead. Thanks a bunch!

  5. lion avatar

    I was trying to find where can one get the music that are in the acts…it is beautiful


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