The City God Temple is Hsinchu’s second most popular tourist attraction (right behind the East Gate) and is regarded as the highest ranking of all City God Temples in Taiwan. We’re not really sure what that ranking means but thought we would throw it in…thanks Wiki :-) The temple was built in the mid 1700s, but despite being extremely old it is still a center of constant hustle and bustle. The outside of the temple isn’t anything too extravagant. In fact, it can almost be a little difficult to find as it is surrounded by hordes of food stalls and a popular night market. However, once inside, there are numerous rooms that display various iconic statues with unique, distorted faces. Other than the giant gold Chinese Buddha (remember this guy from a photo of the day?), we’re not sure who the gods are or what they represent.
Although the temple itself is worth exploring, it’s the nearby food scene that really makes the City God Temple unique. To meet the needs of the many hungry worshippers who visit the temple, dozens of traditional Hakka food stands are located around the premises. If you want to sample a few of the foods Hsinchu is known for, then this is the place to go. A few of the classic options are pork balls, spring rolls, Ba-wan meatballs and rice noodles.
If you make it to the temple, you absolutely can’t miss the pastry shop across the street. Normally we don’t really go crazy about Chinese sweets, but this place is utterly delightful. The name of the place is Hsin Fu Jean; a woman who got her start at a small food stand outside the City God Temple founded it over a century ago. The traditional Chinese cake shop is known for its Chu-chan Cakes, but there are lots of other delicious pastries that warrant tasting. We personally went with the Tangerine Mochi and a Taro Cake. If you’re a little overwhelmed by all the options, the staff will let you try whatever intrigues you before purchasing it.