Travel Report: Hefang Market Street, Hangzhou.
Hefang Market Street Hangzhou.
October 2017. Wonderboy and I were on our way back down Wushan Hill after a peaceful morning exploring the City of God Pavilion. Quite unexpectedly, we stumbled upon the chaos of Hefang Market Street, Hangzhou’s most popular street food spot. The place was absolutely teeming that day with Golden Week crowds. Hence, for just a moment, we had to look at each other and ask:
Do we really wanna do this?
What an assault on the senses Hefang Market Street was that afternoon. There were craft stores, dumpling houses, candy stalls, glass blowing workshops and caricature artists. Moreover, we saw card games, an abundance of souvenir kitsch and one of the most famous pharmacies in the country, specialising in traditional Chinese medicine.
Hefang Market Street, Hangzhou.
“Dude, look at those!” cooed Wonderboy.
He was nodding toward a pair of Chinese guys, who’d just been served a pair of monstrous fruit shakes. Luckily, they spoke a few words of English. Thus we learned that the drinks were a mixture of ice cream, yogurt and succulent chunks of dripping mango. A “Hefang Market Street speciality”, they told us.
It took Wonderboy approximately 3.5 seconds to conclude that he needed to have one of these mango beasts for himself. As an added bonus, he also got his photo taken with a pair of street touts responsible for attracting people over to the juice stall.
Deep fried Crab!
There are countless eateries on Hefang Market Street. Many of the stalls here sell one of my favourite type of Chinese street food: any-crap-you-can-stick-on-a-stick. This guy’s little hole-in-the-wall joint, for example, deals exclusively in deep-fried crab.
Don’t worry if crab’s not your thing. Hefang Market Street also offers pork, chicken, lamb, fish and all manner of seafood. Furthermore, there are fried bugs for the adventurous and all kinds of weird stuff best filed in a drawer marked miscellaneous.
As hungry as we were, all we really wanted to do is sit down somewhere and breathe. But alas, Hefang Market Street was not such a place, certainly not that afternoon.
To get away from the braying masses, we ducked into one of the many side streets where things quickly quietened down. Here, we found an eatery in which we could rest our feet and get some table service. Best of all, my plate of sirloin chunks and mixed veg went down a treat!
Hefang Market Street, Hangzhou.
Back on Hefang Market Street, we found another Hangzhou speciality: sweet pork jerky! With a mountain of different flavours on offer, not to mention free samples, I found myself sauntering over to this colourful market stall.
Unfortunately, the two witches at the stall completely soured the experience. Having nibbled on a slice of their complimentary jerky, one of them demanded that I buy some. She even went to the trouble of bagging it up for me. “40!!!” she demanded. When I politely declined, the other lady told me that if I wasn’t going to buy anything, I could pretty much **** off! Not quite the fairytale end to our Hefang Market Street experience. But hey, this is China, where you very often have to take the rough with the smooth.
For more on my time in this cool city, have a look at my other articles on Hangzhou.
To go deeper into the region, check out my travel reports from around Zhejiang Province.
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You are a salesman. You make chaos look enticing. And I want one of those mango things.
Memo, you are too kind as always. If I could teleport one of the mango beasts to you now, I would.