Shanghai Street Food #28 Sweet Osmanthus Cake: Gui Hua Gao 桂花糕

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.

四牌楼路, 在放榜路附近

Open seven days from morning until night

The Shanghai Street Food Series
Now in its third year!

Number 1   Roast Sweet Potatoes
Number 2   Snack-on-a-stick 
Number 3   Liangpi - a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4   Langzhou Lamian - hand-pulled noodles
Number 5   Cong You Bing - fried shallot pancakes
Number 6   Baozi - steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7   Jian Bing - the famous egg pancake
Number 8   Dan Gao - street cakes
Number 9   Shao mai - sticky rice treats
Number 10  Summer on a Stick - fresh fruits

Number 11  You Tiao - deep-fried breadsticks
Number 12  Dan Juan - egg rolls
Number 13  Shao Kao - street barbecue
Number 14  Bao Mi Hua - exploding rice flowers
Number 15  Chou Doufu - stinky tofu
Number 16  Bing Tang Shan Zha - crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 17  Mutton Polo
Number 18  Yumi Bang - puffed corn sticks
Number 19  Mian Hua Tang - cotton candy
Number 20  You Dunzi - fried radish cakes

Number 21  Suzhou Shi Yue Bing - homestyle mooncakes 
Number 22  Gui Hua Lian'ou - honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23  Cong You Ban Mian - scallion oil noodles
Number 24  Guotie - potsticker dumplings
Number 25  Nuomi Cai Tou - fried clover pancakes
Number 26  Da Bing, Shao Bing - sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27  Ci Fan - sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28  Gui Hua Gao - steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29  Zongzi - bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice
Number 30  Shengjianbao - pan-fried dumplings

Number 31  Mala Tang - DIY spicy soup

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