Yesterday evening we decided to pay homage to Anthony Bourdain and venture over to Hubu Alley, a well known Mecca of street food here in Wuhan with over a hundred vendors hawking their fares.
We had been doing a little shopping beforehand so we hopped in a DiDi (China’s version of Uber) and got to Hubu right as the hustle and bustle was beginning. Vendors were all just starting to set up their carts and it was CRAZY the difference an hour made. It went from an open alley where we could walk pretty freely to being shoulder to shoulder packed, with a high chance of getting accidentally impaled by a haphazard bump into a skewer.
I make this joke because literally 90% of the foods were served on a stick. Locals would be carrying around 5-10 at any given time. Everything from what appeared to be hot dogs, to various meats, frogs, squid, to any crustacean your heart could desire. All waiting to be selected, then thrown onto a grill and mopped with some sort of sauce.
I’m still carrying around a pretty big aversion to any variety of impaled goods after a 16 hour puke fest in Morocco following a rogue roadside kabob so I politely declined the stands pushing those.
A few curbside chefs actually had vegetarian versions with broccoli or other greens but I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Of course, there was the lone lady touting her scorpions and beetles and even a sea horse just waiting for some adventurous fool to dive in.
Hubu Alley caters to more than just carnivores though. They pride themselves on a local favorite called “stinky tofu” which… believe me… you have NO trouble finding!
We found ourselves intrigued by stacks of bamboo stuffed with something and decided to hand over the 10 RMB to give it a shot. We couldn’t figure out exactly what it was, but it seemed to be some sort of glutinous rice that had just a hint of sweetness.
We debated trying dou pi (a typical breakfast dish of sticky rice, pork & scallions with a tofu skin but didn’t make it back that way. The language barrier is daunting and although I’m dying to have “hot dry noodles” I wasn’t sure what all the mix-ins were and didn’t want to end up with something insanely spicy so I chickened out.
One of my favorite things was the fresh watermelon juice a few ladies were making. A big glass was only 5 RMB (or about 80¢ USD). I fell in love with watermelon juice on my first trip to Belize, and am thrilled to find it over here on the other side of the world!
Being the only Westerners around, it only seemed fitting we bought the giant cup of “1 Meter!” fries (assume potato?) that were served with a sauce of your choice (I went with Thai sweet chili) and an ice cream swirl. I’d like to think my decades of dipping fries into my Wendy’s frosty prepared me for this very moment.
Those pretty much did me in for the night. We had a late snack of dumplings while shopping and I was stuffed by this point. On the walk out of Hubu Alley I couldn’t pass up w cantaloupe on a stick though. There’s something about their cantaloupe here I just love. It has the same flavor as back home, but the texture and crunch of an apple almost.
I still have a list a mile long or other “street foods” I’m dying to try in China so I’m sure there will be many more stalls in our future!