My top 10 favorite foods in China

If you are thinking about coming to China or are getting ready to come to China, I hope this post gets your taste buds warmed up. You could travel to China, skip all the sites , and solely do a culinary trip because the range of cuisine is as vast as the country itself. Everything revolves around food in China and food pulses in the veins of this country. The question ” Ni chi le ma?” which means ,”Have you eaten?”, is sometimes more often used to greet people than hello. Food is always a topic of conversation and rightly so because this country has so much culinary delights to offer. Without further ado, let’s dig in to some of my favorite dishes in China.

1. Jioazi (Dumplings) 饺子

A staple Chinese food that is eaten all around China. The great think about jiaozi is there are so many fillings! Endless possibilities. During the Spring festival you will see everyone eating them! Have em’ steamed, have em’ fried, have em boiled. (Boiled are the best!). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had jioazi in China and I never get tired of this savory dish. Make sure you get a side of vinegar and for the adventurous, drop a garlic clove in the vinegar to give it extra flavor. If you like spicy, mix in some of the red chilli peppers sitting on the table into your vinegar. And if you are alone or your company doesn’t mind bad breath, eat the garlic after it’s been soaked in vinegar. It even comes in different colors at some restaurants in Beijing!

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2. Chuàn 串 (In the North it’s pronounced “Chuar”)

Chuan is what Westerners would think of kebab and these”kebabs” can come in all sorts of ways. Vegetables, meat, chicken, bread, squids you name it. Usually the chuan is rolled in a delicious cumin/pepper concoction which smells divine and tastes even better. Look for a crescent moon outside of some restaurants and you can be sure they sell  Muslim chuan. Most of the chefs who cook chuan’r wear short, round, white caps. They are likely from Xinjiang, in the northwest of China, where chuan’r originated.

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3.Bei Jing Kao Ya (Roast Duck)  北京烤鸭

Beijing Kao Ya is truly that delicious. It’s fatty. It’s tender. It’s sweet. It’s perfect.  You absolutely can’t come to Beijing without having this dish. Fun Fact: Only until about 100 years ago, only noble people were allowed to consume this dish! So lucky for all of us common people today!

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4. Huo Guo (Hot Pot) 火锅

It’s said that this dish originated from Mongolian nomads who would boil hot water in their helmets and throw in whatever was around for their meals. If you are in Beijing during the winter, this is your go to dish. Imagine a huge pot full of flavorful broth and you get to decide what goes inside. Choose lots of raw meats, vegetables, fish etc. then put it in the pot until cooked. It’s heavenly and gives you the heat you need in a  cold Beijing winter.

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5. Má là tàng 麻辣 烫

This isn’t as much of a dish as it is a process. Walk into a small restaurant ,grab a tray and put as many raw vegetables, noodles, meat, eggs, etc. Then hand it to the server who will take it to the kitchen where they will cook it up into a noodle ish dish. The dish comes with a side of peanut sauce where you can dip your goodies in the peanut sauce. This is a great option for people who are looking to get a big vegetable serving for the day.

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6.  Baozi  

What eggs and bacon are to America, Baozi is to China. Baozi is similar to dumplings but the dough is more fluffy. Think of a small sausage ball. Forget your hotel breakfast or cereal.Go to any small shop early in the morning and dine with the locals. Make sure you eat your boazi with vinegar and chilli paste. Oh and  a plate of baozi will cost you all but $1 American dollar.

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7. Guillin Noodles 桂林米粉

These noodles come from the south of China and are to die for. If you like spicy noodles, this is your jam. Lots of meat and vegetables cooked in a spicy broth. It’s my absolute favorite noodle dish in China.

8. Lǘ ròu huǒ shāo (Donkey Sandwiches)驴肉火烧

The names don’t lie. It does come from donkey but please don’t let that get to you. Once I took a bite of the sand which I was sold and once you do, you will be too. This was actually one of the first dishes I had in China- approach the cuisine full speed ahead, right?I still remember how hesitant I was when I saw a picture of a donkey smiling at me as I took my first bite of the sandwich. But once I had that bite, there was no turning back.  For Sandwich lovers out there, you have to try these. They will change your perception of a sandwich. This is China’s answer to a hearty American meat sandwich. Don’t skip out on  your China experience without trying this piece of ass.

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9. Má pó dòu fu 麻婆豆腐 ( Mapo Tofu)

This is tofu done the right way. This tofu is cooked in a delicious sauce filled with lots of spice. If you are a vegetarian coming to China, this will be a go-to dish.

10. Gung Bao Ji Ding 宫保雞丁 (Kung Pao Chicken)

Any Kung Pao Chicken you’ve had in the west is nothing like the kung Pao chicken in China. This dish is one of the most well-known in China and it comes from the famous Sichuan province. This dish is full of intense sweet and spicy flavor due to the peanuts, pepper corns, scallions and sugar made with the dish. There are different variations around China, but i can promise you all of them are anything better than you have had at General Wang’s Chinese restaurant in the States.

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So, what is your favorite Chinese dish?

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Peking duck in a Peking hutong

Everyone who is planning on traveling or has traveled to Beijing knows that Peking duck is a staple of the northern capital. It’s fair to say that there are more than plenty of places in Beijing to eat some delicious duck, but if you want to go to a place that is a bit off the beaten path and in a truly local area, head on over to Li Qun Roast Duck.

Li Qun is tucked away in a hutong about ten minutes away from Chongwenmen Xi Dajie near the newly revitalized Qianmen pedestrian street. It can also be accessed from the Wangfujing subway area. Don’t be afraid to ask people in the area if you get lost. You might have to use some body language but everyone in the area should know Li Qun.

If there isn’t anyone around, follow the ducks! All around the hutongs are ducks painted on the walls to prevent people from wandering astray.

 

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As soon as you arrive inside the restaurant you will be overwhelmed with the sweet scent of the roasting ducks. Upon walking in, you will actually see the ducks being roasted over an open fire.  The atmosphere is quite cramped but that’s what makes it so charming! Be sure to make a reservation before arriving there because this is a popular place for both locals and the international crowd. We were exploring the hutongs the previous day and were able to make a reservation using Chinese. While some of the staff spoke decent English, you may want to have a Chinese friend/person help you.

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Do be forwarned, the place is a bit pricey. For three people the price is about $50 U.S. dollars or 300 RMB. This is expensive by Chinese food standards.  You can  find cheaper ducks in Beijing, but they  might not be as good and the atmosphere will certainly not feel as charming and local.  You just can’t beat this duck restaurant being in a traditional hutong. After you have finished your duck, spend an hour or two walking that duck off by exploring all of the other hutongs in the area. I am a hutong fanatic and these are some of the best hutongs I’ve seen in Beijing!

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Fun fact: This place was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations

Address:Qianmen and Dashilan’r 前门大栅栏
11 Beixiangfeng, Zhengyi Lu (northeast of Qianmen)
Dongcheng District
东城区
前门东大街正义路南口北翔凤胡同11号

Phone: 010/6705–5578

Subway access: Chongwen & Wangfujing( a bit of a walk from Wangfujing)