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January 12, 2017

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Home » City specials » Hangzhou

Street food centers draw city’s hungry student

WHERE there’s a school, there are street snacks. Over a decade ago, Zhejiang University opened its Zijinggang campus, in west Hangzhou, and from there gradually arose a street-food area at the campus’ north gate.

Although part of Yuying Street, students at the school often refer to the area by the nickname Duo Luo (or “degeneration”) Street, for the tendency of visitors to overindulge on tasty treats ranging from fried rice and noodles to crayfish and grilled kebabs.

The strip contains over a hundred booths and stalls, yet about two thirds of them feature one product: chicken legs. A roasted, seasoned chicken leg here sells for about 10 yuan (US$1.44).

Inexpensive street food is a part of life for many university students across China. Treats like one-yuan kebabs or oven-fresh two-yuan cakes make a tasty break from studies and canteen fare. Today Shanghai Daily introduces three Hangzhou college-area food streets and their signature foods.


‘Duoluo’ Street near Zhejiang University’s Zijinggang campus

Bring a full wallet and an empty stomach to this popular snack spot. Here you can find everything from spicy hot pot, grilled lamb, roasted oysters, rice noodles, crayfish and curry rice. Of course, the real attraction is the chicken legs.

The legs look rather big because they are sliced open and fixed with bamboo skewers before being seasoned and thrown on the grill.

“Each day I sell at least 100 big chicken legs, sometimes 500 of them,” said the owner of Pangzi Grill, a man surnamed Wei. He added that preparing this popular item isn’t difficult, yet spices and time on the grill are critical to creating great chicken meat. He’s concocted his own seasoning sauce, which uses oyster sauce, sugar and more then 10 other ingredients.

Xiasha Frid Food Square

Xiasha District is home to several colleges and shopping centers — among the latter, Frid Square is the oldest. Surrounding the square are about a hundred restaurants, cafes, dessert shops and snack stalls.

Frid Square’s location has supported its booming snack business. It is ringed by a group of schools, including Hangzhou Dianzi University, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, and Technical College; and just a couple of kilometers away are six more colleges.

Most of the small restaurants around the square are tiny eateries with two or three tables and limited menus. Some favorites among the student crowd are a sushi store, a pizza and pasta joint and an outlet of Hangzhou snack food chain Zhiweiguan; all of which offer tasty treats at budget-friendly prices.

Perhaps the most popular shop is Ju Ge Li Zi (literally “hold a chestnut”), a 10-square-meter chestnut seller that’s only open six months each year.

September is when students go back to school, and when chestnuts are harvested. This is also when Ju Ge Li Zi starts receiving long queues of students and local office workers.

Street-roasted chestnuts are a favorite autumn street-snack in China. They are roasted in a wok with a mixture of coarse sand and syrup. Vendors also coat them with oil to make them shine.

While some have switched to roasting chestnuts with machines, Ju Ge Li Zi continues to practice the time-honored tradition of hand roasting. Their roasting master has been practicing his trade for over 30 years and makes sure every nut is glistening on the outside and golden on the inside. The nuts are prized for their softness, sweetness and pleasing smell.

The owners of the stall are a young couple. The wife graduated from a college in Xiasha four years ago and the husband graduated from Renmin University of China. The business opened when the wife was in her final year at school. With support from the owners’ family, and their experience roaster, the business thrived. It operates between spring and summer.

Also helping the business is its pleasing decor, which is a cut above your average street stall. This is no surprise, since the wife majored in design.

Their trademark snack is usually sold by weight and served pipping hot in a paper bag. The nuts should be peeled and eaten while still warm.

Laxi Street in Binjiang District

With several colleges in Binjiang District — including Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Zhejiang Police College, Zhejiang Vocational Academy of Art — it’s little surprise that Laxi Street has turned into a bustling street food center.

In the past, the area was known for its unhygienic conditions and unlicensed vendors.

Last year though, the local government renovated the area by widening the streets, cleaning up the stalls and installing public tables and chairs. There are also curtained areas where diners can get some protection from the cold.

The street is now home to about 100 licensed vendors. One can find everything from clams and ice cream on waffles to grilled pigs feet and frozen yogurt. Most items are offered at affordable prices, ranging from 5 to 30 yuan.

One booth, named Cook For You, is quite popular with its traditional Chinese snacks like chicken feet and duck tongue. The feet and tongue are braised with soy sauce or deep-fried.

A more foreigner-friendly option is a popcorn-chicken-like golden Treasure in Palm, referring to the meat of the chicken feet, which consists of mostly tendons and some skin, meat. The meat is preserved first and then fried, giving it a nice al-dente consistency.


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