Believe it or not, Chinese people eat a lot of cake (dan gao 蛋糕). This surprised me, because I always think of cake as being very western, but steamed and baked egg cakes have been around in China for a very long time. Every small strip of food shops has a bakery selling a variety of freshly baked cakes. The tiny cake shop on Wulumuqi Lu sells hundreds of pieces every day, from a shop front only two metres wide. The cakes are especially popular in the colder months, with people lined up down the street waiting for the latest batch to come piping hot out of the oven. Chinese cakes are less sweet than ours, and are never iced or decorated – often very simple vanilla egg cake or sponge – and are eaten for breakfast as well as for snacks.
A current favourite of mine is their pecan and red date cake – a light ginger sponge with small pieces of nut and sweet red date. Baked less than half an hour before, it was cut from a slab of cake about a metre square, and after weighing, cost 1 kuai (17 cents) for a large piece. It goes really well with coffee!
Everyone loves street food, even germ-phobics. I’m working my way through all of Shanghai’s street foods, one by one. This is Number 8 in the Shanghai Street Food series. Enjoy tasting them all!
Number 3 Liangpi – a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4 Langzhou Lamian – hand-pulled noodles
Number 5 Cong You Bing – fried shallot pancakes
Number 6 Baozi – steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7 Jian Bing – the famous egg pancake
Number 14 Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 16 Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 21 Suzhou Shi Yue Bing – homestyle mooncakes
Number 22 Gui Hua Lian’ou – honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23 Cong You Ban Mian – scallion oil noodles
Number 25 Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 26 Da Bing, Shao Bing – sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27 Ci Fan – sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28 Gui Hua Gao – steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29 Zongzi – bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice