Get the Most out of Your Tour of China
Those choosing to visit China will quickly realize once they’ve landed that the food differs markedly from the Chinese food found in the US. In general, Americans consume Sichuan- or Hunan-inspired dishes when they eat “Chinese” food, and even these recipes have been tweaked to accommodate the average American palette.
Actual Chinese food typically has a very unique flavor and probably a long history to go with it. While seeing pandas and the Great Wall are definitely not to be missed on any China tour, here are some other cultural treasures you can eat.
Beggar’s Chicken (Jiao hua ji): this dish can be found in cities like Hangzhou in Zhejian province and it has a light, fresh taste to go with a lovely aroma.
Tradition says a beggar once arrived in Hangzhou with nothing but a chicken, a fire, and a knife. He gutted the chicken, wrapped it in mud, feathers and all, and later peeled off the mud and feathers with it before enjoying his meal.
The Beggar’s Chicken you can try today in China is much cleaner, but definitely a different approach to cooking poultry. Many restaurants in Hangzhou serve the dish, the best being Louwailou Restaurant where it will cost you roughly 168 RMB.
Bamboo Rice (Zhutong fan): this is beyond plain white rice—bamboo rice includes pork and is cooked in green bamboo until it is seared, infusing the rice with a fresh scent.
This tasty dish can be found anywhere the Dai and Yao people live in China such as Xishuangbanna, Longsheng, or Guizou Province.
Preserved / Glass Egg (Pidan): this is one food you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Preserved eggs can be found in many restaurants throughout China: these shiny, dark eggs are typically served with soup, minced pork congee and with tofu. These eggs have a unique taste to go with their unique appearance, and are said to cure hoarseness and get rid of hangovers.
We’ll let you be the judge.
Stinky Tofu (Chou doufu): Ok. This dish is what it says it is. It looks bad, it smells bad. You may even run into a wall of its stench while walking down the street at some point.
The taste, however, is a different story. Changsha’s tofu, in Hunan Province, is probably the best you’ll find, along with that found in Nanjing and Shaoxing, although you can find it in other big cities as well.
Stinky tofu, especially the kind in Changsha, is actually really tasty, having a thin, crispy skin and a surprisingly fresh and spicy flavor.
Fried Bee Pupae (You zha feng yong): In many entrees in Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang Ancient Town, Southeastern Guizhou, and Yunnan Province, you might come across bee pupae. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can eat them fried to golden brown or even steamed or stir-fired.
For what it’s worth, bee pupae are high in protein and low in fat.
Spinach Noodles (bo cai mian): For those exploring Xi’an, no doubt you will come across their famous made-from-scratch noodles. Spinach noodles are just that—noodles made from spinach and topped with chili, meat, eggs, vegetables, or anything else you might like!
Fried Mashi (chao ma shi): Mashi may look similar to fried rice or chow mein, but the similarities end there. This dish combines crunchy vegetables with gnocchi-like ma shi to create a slightly sweet by spicy entrée that you simply have to try.
Chinese BBQ (kao rou): you can find this standard Chinese dish at both restaurants and food carts. Cooked over burning coals, kao rou can be lamb, chicken, beef, or even gizzards are full of flavor thanks to the spices used in the cooking process.
Cold Veggie Dish (liang cai): this “cold dish” is full of vegetables (typically cucumbers, lotus root, green beans, or cabbage), tofu, and peanuts in a special sauce but can vary from one establishment to another.
Mutton stew (yang rou pao mo): a traditional dish in Xi’an, pao mo can feature mutton or pork or beef with noodles or unleavened bread. On the side (to be eaten on their own) are chili sauce and pickled garlic.
N.B. If you find yourself in Taiwan, yang rou usually refers to goat, rather than mutton.
Cold tofu and Pineapple aloe vera (Liang ban dou fu and bo luo lu hui): this dish is exactly what it sounds like—a large serving of tofu on top of an oil, chili, and sesame sauce served with veggies, and on the side is a dish with aloe vera and pinapple underneath.
Unique, yes. Delicious, also yes.
Sweet and Sour Eggplant (yu xiang qie zi): If you think eggplant can’t taste like sweet and sour pork, you need to try this! With chili or fish sauce, you won’t believe you’re eating a vegetable.
This list could be so much longer, but you’ll just have to experience all that Chinese cuisine has to offer for yourself. If you’re ready to discover the sights, smells, and tastes of China, China Tour can get you there! We are owned and operated by a skilled team that calls China home, so you can trust that your trip will be unforgettable.