Zhuangyuan in Chinese means Scholar or Champion. As one of the oldest restaurants in Hangzhou, this Zhuangyuan Guan also has a story to tell. In 1871, It was started by a man from Ningbo by the name of Wang Shangrong. Wang Shangrong's claim to fame was his Ningbo-style noodle soup and his restaurant became very successful because of it. One day, a young man walked in and ordered a bowl of noodles, during the meal, they had a chat. Wang found out this young man was also from Ningbo, but was now in Hangzhou for an exam. Wang was a very warmhearted person and allowed this student who was very poor to stay with him. Wang fed him with noodles and the young guy helped him with some work around the restaurant. A while passed and Beijing came a calling. If this young upstart could pass the Beijing exams his plot in life would be severely improved. Unfortunately, this young student had no money to travel to Beijing to take the tests, but Wang gave him some money and made him a bowl of yellow fish noodles to bring him luck. It must have worked because this young man passed his exams and became very successful. So appreciative of Wang was he that he returned to old Wang's noodle shop to express his appreciation. Did he express it by paying Wang back months of free room and board? Did he shower Wang with jewels and money? Did he become Wang's lifelong benefactor? No. He did something better. He came back are you ready for this?...to Wang's humble restaurant and wait for it painted the phrase, Zhuangyuan Lou or Scholar Restaurant, on the front. Needless to say, Wang was so taken by the gesture he vowed to never help another poor, young student out for the rest of his noodle making life. We weren't preparing for any exams when came to this place. We just wanted to see how the food matched up to its storied reputation. The decor is very, traditional Chinese. The first floor is reserved for noodle patrons while the second is for people wanting to order a variety of dishes. We opted for the 2nd floor and weren't disappointed. The picture menu made ordering easy, we had Ribs with Glutinous Rice 糯米子排, Deep Fried Tofu Skin 干炸响铃, Meat Ball Stew 肉圆煲, Iron Board Shells 铁板蛏子, Tofu Soup 西米豆腐 and, of course, the noodles. Namely, the Shrimp and Eel Noodles 虾爆鳝面, one of their signature noodle dishes that we highly recommending you try. Across the street from Zhuangyuan Guan there is a big parking area. On the way out, right next door, there is a little place that sells fresh coconut so you can get a little taste of summer in winter. Picture menu available.
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