Wuhan Dining -- Featured Snacks
Wuhan has been an important trade center since the old days. Thousands of businessmen from all over the country thronged into this city every year, bringing both goods and traditions from their own regions. Therefore folk customs and food flavors here are a blending of the northern and southern China styles. Traders who hurry to markets in the morning don't have enough time to prepare breakfast at home and they often buy snacks at street food stalls. It became a custom for local people to call it "Guo Zao" (which simply means to have breakfast). If you have a plan to stay in the city, instead of eating western breakfast at your hotel, following the locals' habit of Guo Zao will give you a chance to learn more about the everyday life of the Chinese. In front of a food stall, you may feel amazed at the skillful performance of vendors. They can tailor the flavor to each customer's taste preference. Of course, most westerners can't express their demands in Chinese. The easiest way is to follow the crowds' choice. Do as a Roman does when in Rome. A Chinese writer said the yo-heave-ho of those vendors is a language art. Hu Bu Xiang is one of the famous breakfast snacks streets.
What to Eat
Wuhan is a paradise for those who live to eat rather than eat to live. Snacks here are famous throughout the country.
It is reputed to be one of the five most famous types of noodle in China and the most favorite choice for breakfast by Wuhan people. The chef first cooks the fresh noodles mixed with sesame oil in boiling water. When the noodles have cooked and cooled, it becomes pliable. Then, each time before eating, the noodle will be cooked in the same process again. Finally, dressings including spring onion and sauce will be added. You can try a bowl of Re Gan Mian for one yuan.
Dozens of street vendors and small restaurants in the city sell Re Gan Mian. Among them Cai Lin Ji noodle restaurant located at No. 854, Zhongshan Dadao in Hankou is the best. It is said that they sell 15,000 bowls everyday.
Si Ji Mei Dumplings (Season's Dumplings)
Named after the Si Ji Mei Restaurant near the crossing of Hanjiang Lu, these dumplings are the taste of Wuhan.
San Xi'an Dou Pi (Fried Bean Sheets)
Ingredients including bean curd sheets, meat, eggs and smashed shrimps are made into fillings. The chef uses skins made of bean and rice flour to wrap those ingredients and fry in oil. Eggs are often added to bring a crisp cover. Chairman Mao praised it each time he ate. The king of this snack is Tong Cheng Restaurant at Dazhi Crossing of Zhongshan Dadao in Hankou.
Mian Wo (Fried Pie)
A kind of fried pie with a little salty taste, usually eaten with soybean milk or porridge for breakfast
Other snacks include Aunt Xu's Spicy Rice Noodle, Fried Lotus-Root Ball (Zha Ou Yuan) and Fried Stinky tofu (Smelly tofu). No words can describe the taste of those delicious foods. The only way is to try them yourself at the following places.
Where to Eat
Lively snack shops in the city will never disappoint travelers. The four main food streets are Ji Qing Jie night street, Hu Bu Xiang, Qiaokou Lu and Jingwu Lu. Simply write down the following Chinese pinyin names on a piece of paper and ask the taxi driver to take you one of them.
The Ji Qing Jie night street is located in the central part of old city area in Hankou with the famous Lao Tong Cheng Restaurant at its crossing. Local people simply say that if you come to Ji Qing Jie, you will know what Wuhan is, and anyone who didn't go there is the same as the one who has never been to the city.
In the evening, hundreds of dai pai dong (street-side stands) come out on the street and provide popular food and flavored food at cheap prices. Peppery fried snails, fresh steamed lobsters and crabs, spicy shrimp balls, tasty beef soups and Chinese dumplings, all these will feed you well. And you mustn't miss Jiu Jiu's duck necks. Chi Li, a popular, modern woman writer wrote a novel entitled Life Show which tells a love story of a charming lady who sells duck necks in this street. Now the novel has become a best-seller, thousands of people come to find the original heroine and of course they will not miss the delicious duck necks.
Native people like to order several of the best-known dishes and some bottles of beers and spend their evening time with friends here. For travelers, another exciting thing is the lively folk music performed by folk musicians at your table. The musicians often carry their instruments and a piece of board on which the tune names are written. You can simply choose one of them (for all are popular classical Chinese music) at 10 or 15 RMB and then enjoy the delicious food when listening to a graceful flute tune.
It is a lively place where locals spend their leisure time, and it has become an indispensable part of the everyday life for local people.
The night street becomes lively around nine to ten pm and will last late into the night.
Located in Zhonghua Lu Street in the town of Wuchang, the 150-meter (490-feet) long Hu Bu Xiang was an ancient street with a 400-year history. Today, the age-old street has become one of the famous breakfast streets. Over 30 kinds of breakfast dishes can be found here. Get up early in the morning and come here to follow local people's habit of Guo Zao.
Tip: Take Bus No. 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 43, 515, 521, 529, 530, 576, 578, 539, 717, 514, 542, 554, 573, 607, 804 and get off at Zhonghua Lu stop.
The other two snack streets are Qiaokou, located on Qiaokou Lu in Wuhan's Qiao Kou District, and Jingwu Road near a long-distance bus station, which is famous for dozens of shops selling the renowned Jingwu Duck Necks.