Are you planning a trip to China and wondering what to eat there? Guest blogger Dimitris Vlachos of Movinhand, a service that helps workers find jobs and move abroad, shares five must-try foods to eat in China.
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Five Must-Have Foods to Eat in China
Each and every single time I feel that I have had a long day, I always end it with a good scrumptious meal. Although I do not have plans for dinner, I always find myself inside a Chinese restaurant ordering my favorite dishes.
Chinese food is known to be one of the most comforting foods in the world. When I spent a couple of years in China as an ESL teacher, I learned a lot about Chinese culture and tasted the best food I think every single traveler should not miss.
I would teach all day in Shanghai, have fun with my Chinese students, and cap it off with a freshly cooked plate or bowl of goodness. I swear it made the whole day’s work worth it.
If you are traveling to China and want to know which foods you must try, you have landed on the right page. Let me share five foods I would travel to China to eat again.
Photo Credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink, The Year in Food
Dumplings have been around for thousands of years. In fact, the Chinese say the dumpling was first invented around 225 AD. This food has witnessed China’s history and became a part of it.
Dumplings are made of minced pork and finely chopped vegetables wrapped in dough. However, there are other variations nowadays. Instead of pork, beef, chicken and vegetables may be used to fill Chinese dumplings. These dumplings are usually steamed, boiled, or fried, but I would say that my personal favorite is the steamed one. Nothing spells authentic Chinese food like eating a hot steamed dumpling.
Sweet and Sour Pork
One way or another, you have ordered a plate of this at your favorite Chinese restaurant. That is why if you step into China, you must taste the authentic one.
This dish is made of marinated meat, deep fried to perfection, and sautéed in a red sauce that tastes exactly as it sounds — sweet and sour. Just like the dumplings, there are variations to this dish to cater to those who don’t eat pork. You will see sweet and sour chicken, fish, or tofu.
Photo Credit: Jaden Hair, SteamyKitchen.com
One of the things I like about this food is that you can snack on it or pair it with rice (which is a staple food in China).
Spring rolls are made of minced meat — which could be a variation of pork, chicken, or beef — and finely chopped vegetables, just like your normal dumpling. However, it is wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and deep-fried. It is served with a sweet and spicy red sauce or soy sauce.
Photo Credit: Flickr user sstrieu, Food Touring blog
A China trip wouldn’t be complete without eating Peking duck.
Just like your dumplings, Peking duck has been around for a long time. This dish from Beijing has been prepared since the imperial era. It was served mainly to the upper classes, and it is said this dish inspired Chinese poets to write poems. Duan Zhu Zhi Ci has a line from one of his poems saying, “Fill your plates with roast duck and suckling pig.”
The authentic way of cooking this savory duck is a bit complicated. The duck used for this dish should be around 45 days old. Air is pumped under the skin to separate the skin from the fat. The duck is then soaked in boiling water, hung to dry, slathered in a marinated sauce, and roasted until you get that crispy skin.
Photo Credit: Nick, FrugalFeeding
Chow mein — chow meaning “fried” and mein meaning “noodles”— is a dish of stir-fried noodles. It is a dish you may order in a Chinese restaurant right across from your office after a long, stressful day. It likely appears in every Chinese food restaurant you may visit worldwide.
Consisting of egg noodles, different kinds of meat (mostly pork, chicken, beef, and/or tofu), spring onions, and celery or cabbage, this dish is best paired with a deep-fried chicken or a Peking duck.
If you noticed, the foods I highly suggested for you to try are the dishes that you would normally see on a Chinese restaurant’s menu. Before working in China as a teacher, I had a specific standard set in my mind as to how these foods tasted based mainly on how they were prepared by the non-authentic Chinese food places. But when I was in China and got to taste these foods, I was blown away (not literally, though). Nothing beats Chinese food prepared by the locals. I swear that once you have tasted these, your taste buds are going to thank you.
About the Guest Blogger
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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke
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Don’t those five dishes seem tasty? Someday when I visit China, I’m going to seek out the best dumplings.
Which of these five foods to eat in China would you try?
Great article Erin, thanks for sharing this.
This is one of the very best pieces of travel journalism I have read for quite some time.
Keep up the great work!
Thank you for stopping by! However, I can’t take the credit here. This post was written by a guest blogger. 😉
Yummyy!!! I love chinese food. spring rolls & sweet & sour pork looks delicious!!!
I hear you, Rima! I never turn down a spring roll. 😉
I have a friend whose family is first generation Chinese in America and the food they cook when we visit their home is so much better than anything you’ll find in a US restaurant. So it must be amazing to try things out actually in the country.
I bet you are right! I haven’t been to China yet myself, but I’d love to visit someday to try the authentic cuisine.
Holy Cow, all that food looks so good. You just made me so hungry.
Good to know. Mission accomplished. 😉
Liz @ Yes/No Films
I’m here for the dumplings, lol. Do you ever do dim sum? So good.
Yes! Dim sum is so good.
I just got back from China…..and I had 2 of those: dumplings and the Pekin Duck. The rest is American style Chinese food….but they do look good 🙂 There are so many interesting things to try China you can really get out of of your comfort zone.
Not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous, Evelyne! I would love to visit China someday simply for the dumplings alone. 😉
These all sound amazing, sadly not gluten free 🙁 The Peking duck might be the only thing that might work depending on the marinating sauce.
Yeah, traveling gluten-fee is tricky, right? You constantly have to ask about what’s in the sauce, and even then you might not really know. So many of my favorite foods and drinks are carbs and beer, which almost always contain gluten. I’ll try to be more cognizant of gluten-free dining options when I travel from now on, so I can pass that info along to you and the rest of my gluten-free readers, Rossana.
Thanks so much Erin, appreciate that. ?
DIY Travel HQ
Chinese is the best cuisine in the world! After travelling for a year in Central America, I’ve been craving Chinese food so badly that all I want to do is go back to China & eat – this post is not helping, the photos are too mouthwatering 🙂
Haha. Sorry, Sheena! But, I’m sure you’ll find some tasty Chinese food in NYC.
Yum… I have tried all of these foods and I love them. I’m hungry now…
Did you try them in China? I’ve had most of these at restaurants in the US and UK, but I bet the dumplings in China are even better.
Katie @ Zen Life and Travel
Dumplings and spring rolls…yum!
My thoughts exactly. 😉
I am so glad you did NOT say shark fin soup. I would have had a heart attack!
Yeah, I’m all for trying unique foods when I travel, but I’m not really dying to eat shark, Tam. I understand it’s considered a delicacy in China, but I was also told that about Cuy (guinea pig) in Peru. I could hardly stomach looking at the cooked guinea pig.
That New Girl
So much of it looks like American-style ‘Chinese’ food! Lol!
I’ve always wanted to try Peking duck though. Vietnamese spring rolls are also yum!!
Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled to China yet myself to photograph and taste the authentic dishes, so stock images were used in this post. However, the text is based on the guest writer’s experience eating food in China. 😉 I love a good spring roll, so I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future!