In a quiet alley of Shida University district, there’s a shop that sells congee and ‘convenience’ noodles (方便麵). A single man in his 50s has been dolling these bowls of comfort food for years. But his business may not last much longer.
“The rent is getting heftier and heftier each year. Many stores have moved on and it may soon be my turn.”
I respond with a sad smile. The demand for larger western-style eateries come with the increasing international crowd. But what would local student life be, without slurping a bowl of heart-warming congee after a late night of study?
Sometimes late at night near Shida night market, you’ll find an old man selling hand-grilled corn from a rickety street cart.
He makes them made-to-order. The cob is layered with three sauces, slathered with a wooden paintbrush. He regrills the corn with each new layer, controlling the flames with his wrinkled but nimble hands. Once blackened enough by the coal (though never burnt), he hammers a bamboo skewer into the centre, and presents it to his waiting customers with a semi-toothless smile.
This is his only trade, selling corn on the cob for sixty years more. And still selling strong.