While most people are familiar with Chinese food to some extent, few that have never been to China realize just how diverse their food can actually be. Dishes such as egg fried rice and Peking duck are popular within China and throughout most of the world, but there are some delicious foods that one would actually need to travel to China to sample.
So if you ever happen to find yourself hungry in China, here’s a list of delicious dishes that most tourists seem to love, some familiar and some less so, but most suitable for the palate of a foreigner. Whether sweet, savory, sour or spicy, here are the top ten Chinese food dishes that tourists in China love to eat!
Chinese Hot Pot
As one of the most popular dishes in China, hot pot has been eaten here for well over 1,000 years. Chinese hot pot consists of a metal pot filled with a simmering broth which is placed in the center of the table. You are next served a number of raw ingredients along the side of the pot. You then use your chopsticks to add whichever ingredients that you desire to the boiling soup. China is a huge country, so your hotpots will vary region by region. If you’re travelling across this beautiful land, make sure to try them in each part that you visit to try and taste the differences.
Egg Fried Rice
No matter where you’re reading this from, chances are you’ve tried, or possibly even prepared some form of fried rice. This simple to put together meal is made by combining rice, eggs, vegetables, and sometimes some meat into a wok and frying them together, often with a bit of soy sauce. Home-made fried rice is usually made by combining leftovers from previous meals, making countless variations available of this classic dish.
Chinese Egg Tarts
This is among one of the most popular dessert items available in China. This delicious pastry actually originates from Portugal but was introduced to China when Macau was under the rule of the Portuguese government. The Chinese egg tart is about palm-sized and is filled with a sweet and smooth egg-based custard. The crust is delicate and flaky and almost melts in your mouth. This is a must try for all those that have a sweet tooth, or just a love for pastries.
This spicy dish, known as mapo doufu in Chinese, originates from the province which is notorious for its spicy cuisine, Sichuan. Being one of the most famous dishes of this region, this isn’t something that should be consumed by those sensitive to spicy foods. Even though this is a tofu-based dish, it’s generally not going to be considered vegetarian-friendly. It’s usually made by combining tofu, some type of minced meat, but usually pork, and a spicy chili and bean-based sauce.
Red Bean Paste
This popular sweetened paste, also known as azuki bean paste, is common in Japanese and Korean cuisine as well. This paste, considered to be very similar to dates by many people, is made through the crushing of the azuki beans. It can often be found in a variety of sweet desserts such as glutinous rice balls, steamed buns, pastries and even mooncakes.
Fried Shrimps with Cashews
For those interested in a lighter dish or who are just looking for some sort of seafood, and then fried shrimps with cashews is a popular option. This fairly simple dish consists of cashews, shrimp, and celery.
Eaten both as a common breakfast or lunch, jianbing is a popular burrito looking treat typically found in western China. It’s made by first using batter to create a large thine crepe like pastry. An egg is then added to the pastry while it is still cooking, and then scrambled and spread across it. Green onions, pickled mustard greens, and cilantro are then sprinkled over all this, and the pastry is folded in half. This is then lathered with fermented bean paste and sprinkled with chilies. A dried wonton is added to the top, and it’s then cut in half and served. This dish is absolutely delicious and should not be missed.
Peking duck is another dish that most people have heard of at some point in their lives. While many have sampled this dish in their local Chinese restaurants, you haven’t truly experienced Peking duck until you’ve tried it in Beijing, the city from which it originates. With hundreds of years of history, this popular plate is known for its thin crispy skin accompanied by tender and mouthwatering meat.
Beijing yogurt is a traditional snack that can be found being sold in stalls all around the city of Beijing. It is often served in a ceramic jar, and unlike traditional yogurt throughout much of the west which is meant to be eaten with a spoon, Beijing yogurt is more liquid in consistency, and therefore drunken with a straw. The yogurt can be served either warm or cold and is incredibly refreshing. Just remember to return the ceramic jar to the stand from which the yogurt was purchased.
Sweet and Sour Pork
This is another dish that’s popular across much of the west as well as in China. Considered Cantonese cuisine, this dish consists of bite-sized fried pork pieces that are then stir-fried in a special sweet and sour sauce that’s usually made of soy sauce, ketchup, and white vinegar. Fruits and vegetables such as onions, green peppers and pineapples are also commonly added.
Chinese food, while popular across much of the world, can often seem strange to those once they actually visit the country. The dishes that you’ve grown accustomed to at home are frequently either different or are simply not available once you arrive there. So if in China and you’re feeling lost as to what to eat, you can trust from the experiences of those that were in similar predicaments before you, that you’ll be sure to love any of the above-mentioned delights!