Tiny yellow osmanthus flowers, dried and sweetly scented, are scattered across the top of this light-as-a-feather steamed cake sold in bustling Sipailou Lu near Yu Gardens.
As street foods go, Guì Huā Gāo 桂花糕, or sweet osmanthus cake is more delicate and lovely than most of the full-flavoured and robust fried Shanghai street foods. Made in a very traditional way, the two layers of steamed white unsweetened ‘cake’ sandwich a sweet red bean paste and black sesame seed filling, with the osmanthus flowers adding a gentle honey scent.
Sipailou Lu, where I found this gui hua gao, has a great variety of street foods but can sometimes be overwhelmingly crowded, hot and noisy, because of its close proximity to Yu Gardens and the City God Temple, but yesterday it was quiet and pleasant, all the vendors had time for a laugh and a chat, and enticing smells rose from every wok, griddle and steamer.
In summertime, the imposing stone archway marking the entrance to the street is always lined with vendors selling fresh bright pink watermelon and pale peach-coloured Hami melon on sticks, then a row of vendors selling stinky tofu and fried potatoes, and then an assortment of noodle stalls, fried rice stands, and shao kao vendors.
|Sipailou Lu Street Food Snack Street, near Yu Gardens|
The gui hua gao vendor is on the right side as you enter Sipailou Lu, and she sells her cakes for 10 yuan ($1.50) for a box of nine pieces, with toothpicks so you can eat it with decorum and without getting your hands sticky. A lovely light end to a street food meal!
Sipailou Lu Street Food Snack Street
near Fangbang Lu
Best reached on foot or by bicycle from Yu Gardens.
Open seven days from morning until night
The Shanghai Street Food Series
Now in its third year!
Number 24 Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25 Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes