Next stop, the tong yun shop. Dough balls filled with either a sweet filling - peanuts, black sesame, etc or savoury - pork (what else?this is China after all!) and boiled. It doesn't sound particularly appetising and these weren't the best. The dough was too thick but my filling of choice, black sesame, was good. The balls were also served with the water they were boiled in .. perhaps a little sugar syrup would have perked the dish up a little.
One of many shops selling packs of sealed glutinous rice with dried fruit, nuts and beans. I've seen this sold in the Chinatown supermarkets in London but nothing in comparison when it came to variety. I'm no dried fruit, nut and bean girl so I passed on this.
I found this oddly fascinating - lotus root stuffed with what looked like a mashed bean mix then drenched in syrup. I've never seen this before and maybe one day I'll get round to asking my mother to translate what it says on the glass case.
These dumplings were made in a special griddle mould. The girl would pour a mixture into each individual mould and as it cooked topped it with bits and bobs...cabbage, cooked squid tentacles are the only two that come to mind. It looks so yummy when I look at it now but it didn't call out to me then. Sigh... what a wasted eating opportunity.
This goodie I did try :) Fried dough with spring onion, Chinese 5-spice powder and very liberally sprinkled with sesame seeds. I found the 5-spice powder a little over-whelming so I left my mother to it. She really liked it, perhaps she fancied she was eating something healthy with all those sesame seeds te he he...
After lots of tasty treats, we found that there wasn't much to do so decided to head back downtown to the very touristy area around Yuyuan Gardens. I was nicely surprised with the gardens itself. Away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping area outside it's old walls, it was very peaceful and surprisingly clean. I was a little anxious I would be told off for the cup of coffee that I had brought in with me but no one gave a fig.
After emerging from the gardens, we passed a stall selling braised tofu and quails eggs in a herbal broth. I'm a huge fan of braised tofu (not so much the eggs, which mum happily ate anyway..everyone was happy) and couldn't resist. The firm tofu was braised long enough for little air holes to be formed inside, which was then penetrated by the soya sauce-herbal broth. Ohh, tasty goodness. You can sometimes get this in shops with just the eggs sold as 'herbal eggs' but hardly ever the tofu, so you can see why I was so excited :)
Further along there were two girls selling pancakes filled with red bean paste. These pancakes did smell very good. The girl cooked up a batch by adding batter to oiled moulds and as it cooked added mashed red beans and added another dollop of thick batter. She then sprinkled a thick layer of sugar to a flat pan on her left and flipped the half cooked pancakes onto the melting sugar. Ohhhh smells so good...now if only I liked beans....