Sweet & Sour CHINESE Street Food on Shantang Street ...Davidsbeenhere
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The trip I took to China in April of 2019 was mind-blowing in so many ways. I had the incredible opportunity to explore three unique cities—Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou—and take deep dives into their history, culture, and food. Along the way, I met lots of kind, friendly people and had experiences I will remember for the rest of my life. Join me as I explore the Middle Kingdom!
My fourth full day in China (and second day in the city of Suzhou) continued that afternoon. My friend and guide Judy took me to a local silk factory and then we went to eat some incredible street food along Shantang Street! Join us as I explore more of Suzhou!
In addition to its nickname “the Venice of the East,” Suzhou is also known as the silk capital of China. At the silk factory, there are displays explaining the origin of weaving in Suzhou, silk garment exhibition halls, the life cycle of silkworms, and much more!
There are over 60 silk factories in Suzhou. This city is the best in the world when it comes to silk! Because it was Saturday afternoon, this silk factory didn’t have any workers working, so we headed over to another factory nearby.
At the second factory, we saw the silkworm cocoons. I learned that there are double cocoons that contain a male and a female silkworm and they spin the silk together. I watched the workers work. They put the cocoons in water, attach the silk string to the gears on the machine, and pull it out until you’re left with only the pupa in the cocoon. Each cocoon provides one mile of silk!
Once the silk is pulled out, they weave the silk into a type of garment. I saw the huge weaving machines, which have templates for whatever type of garment they want to make.
I watched the workers make a silk duvet my hand. In the next area, there were lots of beds with silk covers. The prices vary by price, but I saw one that costs about $1,000 U.S.
Then I reached the gift shop and looked for a scarf for my wife. There was some beautiful embroidery. There were lots of clothes there; it felt like a mall! I saw some really nice silk shirts. I found the silk scarves, which were really beautiful.
I found a purple-and-gold one and a red one for me, which came to about $100 U.S., a lotus flower one for my wife, and another for my father. They were 30% off of the original price and came to about $135 total. What a great deal for these high-quality silk products!
There were lots of other products there, including pillowcases, wallets, and more!
Then, we headed to Shangtang Street, where there are lots of street food restaurants. Everything looked so good! This area was bustling and felt more commercial than other areas I’d visited. I saw a tablet that had been written by the emperor and the Baby Grand Canal. It was tiny and I could see the different layers of the old city.
I bought a sticky rice cake with red bean paste. It was really good and filling, but super hot! It cost about 20 cents! Next was sesame candy, which was really good and very crunchy. It almost tasted like chocolate!
We walked through a tunnel and reached the more residential area. I liked this area more; it felt more authentic. Judy showed me an herbal medicine candy that’s good for coughs, so I tried some because I’d had a cough the last few days. It was like a sugary bar of medicine!
I tried some delicious pineapple and watched a man play a beautiful, traditional instrument. Atop one of the bridges, I got a wonderful view down the canal. From there, we turned around to go to a popular restaurant.
There, we got a sweet-and-sour Mandarin fish, which cost 198 Yuan/roughly $29 U.S. The fish had a beautiful presentation and contained no bones. It was like sweet-and-sour chicken, but fish. It was a crunchy, fried fish with a sweet sauce and a lot of meat! The dish was really big, so you should share it with someone.
Then I tried the sticky rice ball soup with pork and vegetables, which reminded me of wonton soup. The rice balls were like mochis. The star of the show was the fish, though! It was unreal!
My bill came to 246 Yuan/$36 U.S. Then we headed up to the bridge to see the view, but there were way too many people!
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