Wuhan is famous for its cuisine.
The first response I received when I told people I was going to Wuhan was: 'Oh, the food there is delicious!'
The list of famous dishes lined up for me to try consisted of:
1) Rè Gān Miàn 热干面
A hot, dry noodle dish with a very particular sauce famous all over China. The restaurant that serves the most authentic and delicious Rè Gān Miàn is still small, and dishes are sold cheaply at 7 yuan each. Apparently, all the westerners that my friend has introduced to this dish claim it is the best thing they have had in China. The restaurant is located in a food street and was so crowded, that all space between tables was filled with people standing and eating. Quite happily though- it is worth it apparently. When this sight met our eyes, we looked at each other in bewilderment: it's a Sunday! AND it's raining! I don't think we would have found a non-peak hour for this place, even if we had waited all week.
2. Guo Zao (breakfast)
Wuhan has a culture of eating out for breakfast, and the options available are as vast and varied as they are delicious. The food street we went down had over 30 different types of breakfast snacks, which we took advantage of for lunch and dinner.
This particular dish is made up of a huge omelette, layered with sticky rice and various chopped meat and veg.
3. Yā bó 鸭脖
Duck neck is a treasured delicacy and sold everywhere from top restaurants to supermarket shelves. I managed to try a morsel and found it full of flavour, if a little tough. I'm beginning to see a pattern here: the less meat an animal part has, the more popular it is?
4. Tāng bāo 汤包
This is a type of bāozi that has extra soup around the meat filling. It requires a bit of skill to eat, as one needs to make a small opening with one's teeth from which to drink soup, while securing it in position with chopsticks, before putting it in one's mouth. Hit's the rainy-day-spot perfectly.
We found a little cafe in a converted church which was quite a novelty. It had a vintage charm: we sat happily supping rice milk with oats surrounded by stained glass windows, a mix of religious and modern decor, and the comforting wafts of warm bread from the bakery.
And lastly, a lavish home-cooked meal at Ying's home: a labour of love and a tasty testament to Chinese hospitality.