8 Mouth-watering Cuisines You Have to Try in China
Traditional Chinese food has a formidable reputation. Let us walk you through some of the famous food regions and what you need to be putting on your plate.
One of the most intriguing and unnerving things about heading to China has got to be the foods you may be faced with when you arrive. There are so many stories online about the weird and wonderful things that Chinese people serve as delicacies. It might seem daunting but we’re here to help!
So what are you waiting for…
Here’s our whistle-stop tour of the different dishes you can expect from the 8 famous Chinese food provinces and whereabouts you’ll find them.
This province delivers the most recognisable food to the Irish eye, also known as Cantonese, it’s the most prominent Chinese cuisine found in the west. You’re sure to identify some of the dishes when you travel in this area. Cantonese food encompasses almost everything that can walk, fly or swim- so don’t be shy if you catch duck tongue, snail or the local delicacy, snake on the menu. However for the less brave; pork, beef, chicken and fish are also very common.
The Guangzhou and Li Yuan restaurants offer customers a whole range of Cantonese dishes including dim sum, Peking duck and stewed fish. Here you’ve got the chance to experience everything there is to offer, all at a reasonable price.
The capital of this province, Chengdu, was recognised as a UNESCO city of gastronomy in 2011, for its bold flavours, spiciness and the unique mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn. Extensive use of chilli, garlic, ginger and lashings of chilli oil have allowed the creation of Kung Pao Chicken and MaPo Tofu. And although the heat of some of these dishes is not for the faint-hearted, the remarkable flavours shouldn’t be missed.
Watch this video to find out what to expect if you come into contact with the Sichuan peppercorn…
As one of the less well-known cuisines that China has to offer, Anhui food derived from traditional cooking styles. The chefs in this area are famous for their attention to detail with regard to cooking time and temperature so the most nutrition can be gained from the ingredients. This refined cuisine revolves around wild picked and caught ingredients from the surrounding mountains and forests.
It’s perfect for travellers who have an interest in natural and healthy food and due to it’s lighter flavour its also fitting for those whose taste buds don’t need a complete culture shock.
The Yellow Mountains are the perfect place to try some local specialities including Mao Tofu- a snack made from fermented tofu and cooked in sesame oil and hot pepper.
If you’re a seafood fan the Shandong region is for you! It offers a huge variety of delicacies to try, all fresh from its coastline. Crowned the ‘Mother of Northern Cuisine Styles’ and historically the favoured cuisine of the Chinese royal court, Shandong is likely to impress.
You should expect the food to be flash fried or braised so the real flavour of the seafood can be enjoyed to its true potential. If you head to the capital Jinan, you’ll find a deluge of ‘Shandong style’ restaurants to serve you the local delicacies.
We recommend the Ju Feng De Restaurant, it’s one of the oldest restaurants of its kind and we’ve heard the stir-fried scalloped pork kidneys and fried carp with sweet and sour are the dishes every diner must experience while they’re there.
In this region the food is mostly influenced by its proximity to the coast and mountainous terrain. If you choose to tuck into this cuisine, you should expect a wide range of wild herbs giving the food a fragrant and interesting flavour. With mushrooms, bamboo shoots, shellfish and turtle being the main ingredients to speciality ‘Fujian soup’.
Tours around the capital Xiamen are an ideal way for you to experience traditional cuisine in specially selected restaurants whilst you sightsee.
Welcome to Jiangsu, home to Shanghai. Proudly showing off spectacular aromatic, gourmet food laid out beautifully before your eyes. Jiangsu cuisine is big on emphasizing the natural flavours in the food so there's a lot less chilli and spices than you’ll find elsewhere in China. If you find yourself here be sure to try sweet and sour mandarin fish and salted duck- there are hundreds of restaurants in Shanghai that serve these famous dishes!
Hunan may be more under the radar than Sichuan but some say the dishes are even hotter and more intense. The people of Hunan believe the heat of the peppers helps them to balance out the excessive cold and wet weather that this province receives. So if you’re exploring this area on a wet, miserable day the heat of the dishes you try are the best way to refuel and warm you up.
For the ultimate experience from your travels visit the West Lake restaurant. Its weekly meat order consists of 200 snakes, 1,000 ducks, 700 chickens and a tonne of pork. You can only imagine its size, and the experience of eating here really should be one on your foodie bucket list!
If the sound of the spice from Hunan sounds like too much to handle, then the smooth and sophisticated flavours in Zhejiang may be a better match for you. This part of your culinary journey is sure to be on your list of places you must see as the speciality freshwater fish and seafood is provided by the picturesque Yangtze river.
This populous and rich area of China can be a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a pleasure to eat here even just for one night of luxury.
Take in the beautiful views of the west lake while you elegantly dine in the Lou Wai Lou Restaurant in Hangzhou.
Hopefully, your taste buds are ready to try something new! Be adventurous, and make sure you remember to tag us in your foodie pics!