Top 8 Food Cities in China

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 28, 2021

Which is the best city for food in China? Different cities have different local food. You will never get a satisfying answer because there is no such thing as “the best”. Actually, Chinese food has magic power beyond description, so maybe you should take your time in China, go to different cities and draw your own food map.

Shanghai – Comprehensive and Contemporary

Shanghai is a metropolis called “Mo Du (魔都)” by Chinese people, which means modern and ambitious; from local home-grown dishes to international fusion cuisines, from casual street food to Michelin-star fine dining, all kinds of food and restaurants are booming in every corner of Shanghai. In this city, any picky eater can find a destination, and the desire for food can be satisfied.

Hong Kong – Moderate and Local

Hong Kong is a paradise for not only shopaholics but also foodies. Influenced by Cantonese cuisine and British cuisine, the food in Hong Kong boasts the best east-meets-west flavor, with various delicious types of Chinese cooking.

What makes Hong Kong stand out as a “Gourmet Paradise” is undoubtedly its local dishes, especially dim sum such as chicken’s feet, har gow (Cantonese shrimp dumplings), fish balls, chueng fun (rice noodle rolls)… There are four areas packed with food streets in Hong Kong, Cauzeway Bay, Mong Kok, Central, and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Macau – Portuguese and Macanese

As a former Portuguese colony, and also close to the Cantonese area, Macau is renowned for its unique fusion cuisine. There are two types of Portuguese cuisines: authentic and Macanese. The former is very salty, sour, and sweet, with strong flavors and tastes, while the latter features mixing the essence of Portuguese, African, Indian, Thai, Malaysian, and Cantonese dishes, and is more suitable for the palate of the Chinese.

In 2017, Macau was listed as a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO.

Guangzhou – Dim Sum and Morning Tea

Chinese people often say “eating in Guangzhou” (means “go to Guangzhou when you don’t know where to eat”), indicating how important Guangzhou is for food lovers. Guangzhou is a city nationally famous for its dining culture and morning tea.

Morning tea is a local tradition to group up with friends or families at a restaurant, enjoying various dim sum and drinking tea. It serves as Cantonese’s breakfast or brunch.

Beijing – Imperial and Ethnic

What is the food that best represents Beijing? Peking Duck of course! Beijing, the capital of China is a great city to gorge yourself on many varieties of other Chinese food. Based on China’s northern cuisine, Beijing cuisine consists of local homemade dishes, halal dishes, as well as Manchu and Mongolian dishes. Travelers can get a bite of fusion cuisine in Beijing as well.

Chengdu – Meet Your Spicy Needs

Chengdu, a “City of Gastronomy” recognized by UNESCO in 2010, is the home of the hot and spicy Sichuan cuisine, China’s most popular cuisine. Hot pot, kung pao chicken, mapo tofu…the food in Chengdu can satisfy any chili-head.

Hangzhou – Freshwater Cuisine

The local dishes in Hangzhou are called “Hang Bang Cai”, with salty and slightly sweet flavors. With the lakes and rivers crossing the city, Hangzhou features all kinds of freshwater seafood. Its trademark dishes include West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Shrimp Meat with Longjing Tea, and Dongpo Pork.

Xi'an – World of Noodles

Xi'an is world-famous for the Terracotta Army, but as the capital of China’s Tang dynasty, Xi'an features Tang culture, which you can experience by trying its high-end dinner: the Imperial Banquet with the Tang Dynasty Show.

Xi’an people are obsessed with different kinds of noodles, and they love them, so long as they are hand-stretched; narrow, wide, cold, hot, Biangbiang, Liangpi, Saozi… the list goes on.

You can also savor local street food at Xian’s famous Muslim quarter – Huimin Street.

Other Niche Food Cities in China

China is a country of gourmet food. The aforementioned top food cities cover a range of China’s best mainstream foods, but there are many other food cities with distinct characteristics, like Lhasa or Turban, which respectively represent Tibetan food and Northwest cuisine in China.

Travel with Us and Taste Chinese Food Your Way

No one who loves food will say “no” to the delicacies of China, especially after admiring its natural and cultural beauties – how would perfect travel be without delicious food? Below are three sample tours we hand-pick for your inspiration:

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