20 Most Popular Chinese Dishes - Typical Chinese food
As we have been rightly told, food is the stuff of life. When it comes to China, you’ll find it a most pleasurable Eden of cuisines. Among the numerous kinds of Chinese foods, what is good to order? The following are the 20 most popular dishes you’ve got to try.
1. Peking Duck
- Name in Chinese: 北京烤鸭（běi jīng kǎo yā）
Peking Duck is a renowned Beijing dish with a worldwide reputation. The high-quality duck meat, roasted using wood charcoal, looks reddish, with crisp skin and tender meat, and is known as “one of heaven’s delicacies”.
There are three well-known restaurants for authentic Peking Duck in Beijing: Quanjude (全聚德), Dadong (大董), and Bianyifang (便宜坊).
2. Sweet and Sour Pork
- Name in Chinese: 糖醋里脊 tángcù lǐjǐ
Sweet and Sour Pork is one of the classics of Chinese cuisine. No one can reject its sweet and sour mix flavor and bright appearance. Some people don’t eat pork, so some restaurants change it to Sweet and Sour Chicken, which shows how adorable its taste is.
This dish is particularly cherished by children. Most kids adore its sour and sweet flavors. If you're traveling with your kids in China, make sure to order this dish for them. They will truly enjoy it.
The dish is particularly popular in the Shanghai area. If you want to learn how to make authentic Sweet and Sour Pork, why not customize your Shanghai cooking tour with us?
3. Kung Pao Chicken
- Name in Chin ese: 宫保鸡丁 gōng bào jī dīng
What comes to your mind when ordering Chinese food in a restaurant? I bet your answer would be “Kung Pao Chicken”.
Commonly seen in the US TV series, Kung Pao Chicken has spread around the world as typical Chinese food. It is basically diced chicken cooked with peanuts, cucumbers, and peppers. This red cuisine is moderately spicy with tender meat and delicious flavor.
Try our Chengdu Night View & Food Tour to taste delicious Kung Pao Chicken!
4. Ma Po Tofu
- Name in Chinese: 麻婆豆腐 Mápó dòufǔ
In 1862, Chengdu had a small restaurant operated by Chen Ma Po. The tofu she cooked was tasty and good-looking. People loved tofu very much and called it “Ma Po Tofu”.
Ma Po Tofu is actually sautéed tofu in hot and spicy sauce. Its main ingredients are tofu, minced beef (or pork), chilies, and Sichuan pepper, which highlight the characteristics of Sichuan cuisine - hot and spicy.
5. Spring Rolls
- Name in Chinese: 春卷 chūn juǎn
Spring rolls are fried pancakes with different fillings in south China. Those from Shanghai and Guangdong are the best known. The name is intrinsically linked to the Chinese New Year. In the past, the Chinese had the custom of having spring rolls to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The filling can be either sweet or savory depending on your preference. For a sweet filling, sweetened bean paste is a good choice. For a savory one, Chinese cabbage and shredded pork are particularly popular, while shredded bamboo shoots and mushrooms can be added for good measure. The skins of perfect spring rolls should be crispy, and the filling tender.
6. Chinese Dumplings
- Name in Chinese: 饺子 jiǎo zi
Dumplings were invented by a famous doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, Zhang Zhongjing, more than 1,800 years ago. Doctor Zhang stuffed small dough wrappers with stewing mutton, black pepper, and some warming herbs to dispel coldness and treat frostbitten ears in winter. He boiled these dumplings and distributed them to his patients until the coming of the Chinese New Year.
In order to celebrate Lunar New Year and recover from frostbitten ears, people imitated Zhang’s recipe and made dumplings, which make it a traditional Chinese New Year food until today.
- Name in Chinese: 馄饨 hún tun
Wonton is a traditional snack originating in the North of China. They are also popular in the south. Even its name “wonton” comes from Cantonese. With a variety of packaging, fillings, and cooking methods, wonton has all kinds of local flavors.
- In Northern China, wonton is always filled with celery (or cabbage) and minced mutton (or beef or pork).
- In the Guangdong area, wonton is usually stuffed with shrimp and minced pork and is served with noodles to make wonton noodles.
- In Hong Kong, wonton is fried in hot oil until it becomes golden and crispy, called “Fried Wonton”.
- In the Fujian area, wonton is served with a light soup.
8. Chow Mein
- Chinese Name: 炒面 chǎo miàn
The name “Chow Mein” comes from Cantonese. Chow means “fried” and “mein” means noodles. So Chow Mein is actually a dish of fried noodles served with chop suey. Even the widely-loved Pad Thai is evolved from Chinese Chow Mein.
The two most popular variations of chow mein are Beef Chow Mein, featuring thinly sliced beef pieces, and the tantalizing Sour and Spicy Chow Mein. You may not easily find Chow Mein in fancy restaurants; the best places to savor Chow Mein in China are small eateries known as "大排档" (da pai dang).
Contact us if you have any other ideas about Chinese food.
9. Char Siu
Char Siu （叉烧 chā shāo） is one of the top ten classic dishes in Hong Kong and one of the most famous traditional dishes in Cantonese cuisine.
This dish is mainly made of lean pork, char siu sauce, oyster sauce, garlic soy sauce, rice wine, honey, peanut oil, etc. as materials and ingredients. The main flavor is sweet and light.
The best char siu (barbecued pork) has a balance of lean and fatty meat. If it's too lean, it becomes too tough, while if it's too fatty, it feels too greasy.
10. Fried Rice
- Name in Chinese: 炒饭 chǎo fàn
Fried rice is a very simple but popular Chinese cuisine. It is a dish of boiled rice that is usually mixed with scallions and minced meat and quickly scrambled with eggs.
Just like wonton, fried rice in different areas also has different flavors.
- Yangzhou (Yeung Chow) Fried Rice: the most popular fried rice in Chinese restaurants, usually consists of rice, shrimp, ham sausage, and scrambled eggs, carrots, and green beans.
- Cantonese Fried Rice: stir-fried rice with sausage, preserved meat, and minced garlic.
- Fujian Fried Rice: braised shrimp, chicken, mushroom, scallops, carrot, egg, tomato, and potato starch are made into a thick sauce and mixed with rice.
Do you want to know how Guilin people make fried rice? Join our Guilin and Yangshuo Memories Tour to take a local cooking class in Yangshuo.
11. Spicy Fried Chicken
Spicy Fried Chicken/Chicken with Chilies (辣子鸡 là zi jī) is a classic Sichuan dish. The main flavor is spicy and delicious.
Generally, a whole chicken is used as the main material, and it is refined with onion, dried pepper, salt, monosodium glutamate, and other materials.
The chicken used to make this dish is often rooster. As rooster is comparatively tender, making it a better choice for spicy fried chicken
Despite the abundance of dried peppers, the dish is not as spicy as it might seem. You can try it at nearly any Sichuan cuisine restaurant in or outside of China, but the most authentic taste can only be found in Sichuan itself.
12. Hot Pot
Hot Pot (火锅 huǒ guō) is definitely the last -but not least-dish you’ve got to try in China! It is so beloved that I bet you can’t find any Chinese who don’t like it.
A hot pot is a stew of meat and vegetables cooked in a simmering pot of soup stock. It can be roughly divided into two types: spicy and not spicy, but there are also hundreds of different flavors. Almost all the ingredients you can think of can be cooked in a hot pot, making it one of the most comprehensive dishes in the world.
Chengdu is a city you should not miss out on if you want to try Chinese hot pot. Don’t hesitate to create your Chengdu trip to enjoy a two-flavor hot pot after visiting giant pandas!
13. Dim Sum
Dim sum is a popular dish in Cantonese cuisine. It contains a wide variety of dishes such as dumplings, wontons, fried spring rolls, cakes, meat, and more. Today, there are about 10,000 different types of dim sum dishes available.
Dim sum is often served in the morning or afternoon, accompanied by tea. People in Guangdong and Hong Kong like to drink tea during breakfast or lunch. They often enjoy these snacks while drinking tea with friends and family in tea houses. This has become a popular lifestyle for people there.
14. Sichuan Boiled Pork Slices
Sichuan Boiled Pork Slices（shuǐ zhǔ ròu piàn） is a very popular dish in Sichuan cuisine. Pork slices are coated with egg white in advance to keep the fresh and tender. The dish also includes dry chilies and a variety of vegetables arranged at the bottom of the serving bowl.
while severing, boiling oil is poured over the prepared meat and vegetables, which makes the meat fragrant, tender, and chewy.
15. Sichuan Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce
- Chinese Name: 鱼香肉丝 yú xiāng ròu sī
Shredded pork with garlic sauce is a famous dish in Sichuan, which is fried with pickled peppers, ginger, garlic, sugar, and vinegar.
This dish was created by a Sichuan cuisine chef in the Republic of China. It is both spicy, salty, and sweet, with a rich aroma of green onion, ginger, and garlic.
16. Peking Noodles (Zhajiangmian)
Peking Noodles （zhá jiàng miàn） are one of the most popular dishes in Beijing. The noodles are topped with fried sauce made of diced meat, scallions, ginger, and soybean sauce, and then mixed with vegetables (bean sprouts, cucumber).
People in Beijing prefer to eat Zhajiangmian hot and dry on cold days. On hot days, they eat the noodles with soup, but the soup must be strained thoroughly.
17. Chinese Pancakes
Chinese pancake（煎饼 jiān bing） is a traditional Chinese food made with flour, egg, and sauce. It is cooked by spreading the batter on a large frying pan or a specialized flat electric stove.
The pancake is thin and round, and it tastes crispy. In China, people usually eat pancakes for breakfast or as a snack.
When eating, different fillings and sauces can be added according to personal preferences, such as crispy crackers, ham, scallion, and chili sauce. It is usually folded several times before being eaten.
18. Steamed Pork Buns
Steamed Pork Buns or Char siu bao （chāshāo bāo） is one of the most famous traditional snacks in Cantonese cuisine. The name "char siu bao" comes from the filling of char siu pork inside the dough.
The bun is made by cutting char siu pork into small pieces and seasoning it with oyster sauce and other ingredients. The char siu is then wrapped in dough made of flour. and be steamed in a bamboo steamer.
The buns are usually about five centimeters in diameter, with three or four buns in a steamer basket.
19. Twice-cooked Pork Slices
- Chinese Name: 回锅肉 huí guō ròu
Twice-cooked pork slices, or double-cooked pork slices, are representative spicy dishes of Sichuan cuisine, and one of the most famous Chinese dishes.
The pork belly is boiled first. Then it is cooked again with ingredients, including thick broad bean paste (a spicy and salty paste made from broad beans, soybeans, and spicy ingredients), garlic, ginger, and so on.
20. Dan Dan Noodles/Sichuan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles (担担面dàn dàn miàn） are a popular street food in Sichuan and China. The dish consists of boiled noodles served in a soup with a spicy sauce and minced meat on top.
The sauce is typically made with preserved vegetables and other seasonings, giving it a unique and flavorful taste.
It is said that this dish is named after the porters who carried and sold noodles on their shoulders at the docks.
Usually, in restaurants, the noodles can be tailor-made. You can ask the chef to add less Sichuan pepper or even remove it completely if you cannot bear the spicy and numb taste.
Tasting Chinese Food with China Travel
Below are three tour packages hand-picked by us according to popularity ratings from our customers, reviews on Tripadvisor.com, booking data, and guide services:
- 8-Day China Experience Trip (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai)
- 11-Day Glories of China (Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin, Yangshuo, Shanghai)
- 11-Day China Impression Journey (Beijing, Xi’an, Yangtze River, Chongqing, Shanghai)