Chinese food is popular around the world. Dishes like Chicken Chow Mein, General Tso's Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Egg Rolls taste great whether you're eating in a restaurant or at home. But what about China? Do Chinese people really eat the same Chinese food as everyone else? In this blog, you will learn more about authentic Chinese food eaten in China, and discover the top 10 as surveyed in EF.
Chinese food really is incredible, no matter where you eat it, but this video may inspire you to try the real thing for yourself! A job in China can be the start of a love affair with some of the most exquisite food from an ancient cuisine! Here are our top tips for eating Chinese food in China:
Dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine, which is prepared in bite-sized portions of food. You'll typically see these dishes served in small steamer baskets. There's a variety of mild and sweeter tasting foods such as prawn dumplings, pork buns, and custard egg tarts.
Sheng Jian Man Tou is a type of small, pan-fried baozi. They are more simply referred to as “steamed buns”, which is a specialty of Shanghai. These baozi are usually filled with pork and is a popular breakfast item. It's quick, convenient, and very cheap. You can find street-side restaurants that sell these steamed buns for 2RMB (about 0.30 cents)!
Zha Jiang Mian or "noodles with soybean paste", is a Chinese dish consisting of thick wheat noodles topped with Zha Jiang sauce. This sauce is normally made by simmering stir-fried ground pork or beef with salty fermented soybean paste. Soy sauce can also be used as a replacement. The toppings of this noodle dish are usually fresh vegetables such as cucumber, radish, and edamame.
Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings (like red bean and salted egg) and are often wrapped in bamboo. They are also known as rice dumplings and can recognize these foods by the triangular shape. Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, around late-May to mid-June. Making zongzi is traditionally a family event of which everyone helps out.
Hong Shao Rou is a popular Shanghai-style braised pork belly dish. The sauce in this dish is thick and sweet, while the meat itself is gelatinous and melts in your mouth. Hong Shao Rou is said to be Chairman Mao's favorite dishes and is also served at the many Hunan restaurants across China. Depending on the restaurant you go to, this dish can vary from moderately priced to expensive.
Rou Jia Mou, or “meat sandwich” is a perfect example of all the tasty street food you'll discover in China. The filling is usually pork, which has been stewed in about 20 different spices and seasonings. Street food is convenient, affordable, and the best way to dive head-first into discovering Chinese eating culture.
Da Pan Ji, or “big plate chicken” originated in Xin Jiang, China. Just like the literal translation, Da Pan Ji is a big plate of chicken stewed in a rich, spicy sauce with potatoes, green bell peppers, and chilies. In the west, restaurants would serve this dish along the Xinjiang highways as a quick fix for hungry truck drivers who often arrived at odd hours of the day. Preparation of Da Pan Ji is quite simple and costs around 50-70RMB (equivalent to $7-10) – not bad for a hearty meal!
Dumplings are foods usually associated with China. There are many different styles of dumplings, but a crowd-favorite are the Shandong “Jiaozi”. Jiaozi are usually eaten for the Lunar New Year because their shape imitates the ancient Chinese money—gold and silver nuggets to be exact. These dumplings are usually filled with a combination of ground pork, water, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry), an egg, sesame oil, ginger, dried shrimps, zucchini, and chives. Jiaozi are very cheap and good value! You can often buy a plate of 20 dumplings for 30rmb ($4).
Chongqing is famous for their Hot Pot. After all, there is a movie named “Chongqing Hot Pot”! This dish is unique in the fact that all the ingredients you order are brought to you raw. There are assortments of thinly sliced meat and fresh vegetables. You'll also receive either a communal or individual pot filled with hot broths. With your chopsticks, you can dunk all the ingredients into the boiling pot and enjoy when cooked! It's an interactive eating experience that's not to be missed. Hot Pot restaurants range from cheap to mid-range and always have many options to choose from all over China.
Beijing roast duck is a dish not to be missed! Also known as Peking duck, this delicacy has been prepared since the Imperial era. These ducks are specially bred for 65 days before being prepared. The meat will be thin and crispy and served with onions, cucumbers, and sweet bean sauce. All these ingredients are wrapped in a crepe-like pancake for you to enjoy!
These are only our top 10 picks of Chinese foods. There are SO many more dishes to try and places to see. Adventure is a click away, so start your food journey with EF English First today!