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 10 of the most popular dishes you’ve got to try.
1. Sweet and Sour Pork
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.
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?
2. Kung Pao Chicken
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 a 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.
3. Spring Rolls
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 Spring Festival. 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 is 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.
4. Ma Po Tofu
In 1862, Chengdu had a small restaurant operated by Chen Ma Po. The tofu she cooked was tasty and good-looking. People loved the 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.
Dumplings were invented by a famous doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, Zhang Zhongjing, in 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 recovering from frostbitten ears, people imitated Zhang’s recipe and made dumplings, which makes it a traditional Chinese New Year food until today.
Wonton is a traditional snack originating in 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 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 Fujian area, wonton is served with light soup.
7. Fried Rice
Fried rice is a very simple but popular Chinese cuisine. It is a dish of boiled rice which 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 with 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.
8. Chow Mein
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.
Contact us if you have any other ideas about Chinese food.
9. Peking Duck
Peking Roast 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).
We highly recommend you book our Night Tour: Quanjude Roast Duck & Kungfu Show in Red Theatre, which will present you a unique experience.
10. Hot Pot
Hot Pot 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.
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 dish 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!
Tasting Chinese Food with Us
Our Customers Tasting Chinese Food
There are so many other delicious Chinese dishes in addition to the above: Dim Sum in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Chinese Hamburger (Roujiamo “肉夹馍”) in Xi’an, Braised Pork in Shanghai, and Rice Noodles in Guilin… How can a foodie say “no” to China?
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)