Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou (Number One Scholar) Hotel, called Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou and located at Sanjiangkou previously, is now at Dongmenkou, Ningbo. Founded in 1785, Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel is famous for authentic Ningbo cuisine.
It is said that two scholars (a successful candidate in the imperial examinations at the provincial level) drank at this hotel on their way to the imperial examination. Then, a steamed turtle in crystal sugar soup was sent to them. The dish was bluish yellow, glutinous, aromatic, sweet, sour and salty at the same time. The two scholars marveled at this dish, asking “what is this?” The waiter was clever enough to tell they were scholars, so he trimmed the sails and said, “it is called ‘Coming out top’.” The two scholars were very happy. And it was very lucky for one scholar to get the Number One Scholar at last. When he returned home after getting fame and money, he went to the hotel again and wrote down “Zhuangyuanlou (Number One Scholar) Hotel” as the shop sign. Later on, the hotel became well-known for its cuisine and booming business, attracting a lot of officials and scholars. Thus, Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel was crowned with “Number One Hotel at East Zhejiang”.
In 1936, Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel was moved to No.16 on Rixin Street with three floors and five shops, which was run by 28 shareholders. Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel attracted the customers from industrial, commercial, financial, military and political circles. In 1945, Chiang Ching-kuo (1910-1988) along with his wife dined at this hotel for twice. Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel was moved to No.4 on Jiangxia Street, Xinjiang Bridge. On September, 1949, the hotel was bombarded by the bombers of the Nationalist Party. Later on, it was reopened by 10 shareholders near Xinjiang Bridge and named “Yong River Zhuangyuanlou”. However, the business was gloomy at that time. In 1956, the hotel became public-private partnership in a smaller scale, which stimulated the business. On October 1, 1959, on the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China, the hotel collapsed because all diners swarmed to the window to see the parade. The hotel was closed. For the later 20 years, a lot of people in Ningbo or overseas were expecting the rebirth of Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Hotel.
In October 1985, supported by Ningbo Municipal Government and Ningbo Hong Kong Fellowship Association, Ningbo Catering Service Company was jointly founded and located on Heyi Junction, East Zhongshan Road, named “Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou Incorporated Company”. it covered 1,100 square meters, with classical court arch, spacious lobby, elegant rooms and central air-conditioning. The revitalization of Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou attracted a lot of countrymen residing abroad, including the world’s ship king Sir Pao Yue-kong (1918-1991) who once treated his countrymen here.
Thus, Ningbo Zhuangyuanlou is entitled with “Number One Hotel at East Zhejiang”, famous for its Ningbo cuisine. In 1995, it was given the golden banner of “China time-honored brand”.