Each province in China has it’s own special culinary twist. Here is a list of all the cities we went to, and all the foods we recommend trying!
We mostly ate in little restaurants near our hotel eating any thing from spring rolls, noodles, pork buns, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, stir frys and dumplings. But our two most favourites would have to be:
- Peking Duck: at the Original Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant (look for the massive yellow duck out the front) The restaurant has an eat in and take away option (with a line about 20 people deep at lunchtime) but we decided to splurge on this Chinese delicacy and eat in at the restaurant. This place is so popular you have to take a number and sit and wait. We only waited for about 30 mins. Not that bad. Once seated, we ordered a whole Peking duck with all the trimmings (pancakes, cucumber, spring onions, chilli and the sauce) for 300RMB/ $60 It was expensive compared to other places in the area but we felt it was worth every penny. The whole duck comes out and is sliced in front of you and we even got a demonstration from our waiter of how to put the pancakes together.
- Chinese Hot Pot: Unfortunately we have forgotten the name of the restaurant we went to but most restaurants near our hostel offered this on their menu. You first choose the broth, letting the waitress know the level of spice you would like and then order your accompaniments to cook in the broth. We ordered chicken wings, pork, beef, broccoli, bok choy and noodles. The dish comes with a sauce to dip your cooked food in before you eat it.
You need to try the corn cakes from the little man on Zhengfu St, (across from Zhengjia International Youth Hostel)
Wander outside of the walls from the south gate (heading towards the train station) and you will find tasty and cheep street food.
Must try street food:
- Spicy chicken burger AKA Pingyao’s version of the KFC Zinger Burger
- Savoury cabbage pancakes (sound gross but were delicious)
- Cold spicy noodles (or any of the noodles being sold) They all looked amazing.
- Pingyaos popcorn chicken
- BBQ’d corn on the cob was let down unfortunately, undercooked and tasteless.
All of the street food in Pingyao cost between 5-10RMB ($1-2 cheap as chips)
Two words: Muslim Quarter. This area of Xi’an will satisfy every foodies dreams.
- Slow cooked spicy beef ‘burgers’ (15 RMB/ $3)
- Deep fried banana on a stick (similar to a banana fritters) (10RMB/ $2)
- Pot plant ice-cream (15 RMB/ $3)
- Chilli potatoes (10RMB/ $2)
- Spicy noodle soup (15RMB/ $3)
- Any of the bread rolls, bagels or flatbreads are recommended as well.
Off the main street, you will find little restaurants which combine Chinese cooking with middle eastern spices. We loved the noodle soups and deep fried cabbage filled pastries.
Aside from the muslim quarter, there is plenty of street food available on pretty much every corner as well as some small noodle shops on Anju Alley (a big bowl of noodle cost us 8RMB/ $1.70) which we can highly recommend (Thanks Charles!)
Around the corner from our hostel (Nova’s Travellers Lodge) ‘left, left and left’ were the directions given to us, we found a small restaurant serving rice, noodles, soups, dumplings and delicious homemade potato rostis (Gulou North 4th St) Very cheap – 35RMB/ $7 for 3 bowls of noodle soup, fried rice and rostis. You really cant go wrong. We did visit this place every morning for breakfast. The only downfall is that there is no english menu and they only have limited pictures, so be brave and do as we did; look at what the locals are eating and use your charades / sign language skills to order a meal.
As Chengdu was our first introduction to the Sichuan provence, we felt the need to sample the local specialty – Hot Pot.
As the name suggests, it was hot. We followed the lonely planets suggestion and went to Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang restaurant but there are hundreds of restaurants offer the same thing. Firstly you select your hot pot type, either half/half (non spicy and spicy) or full spicy. We opted for the safer option of half/half. You then choose your skewers of raw meat, fish, vegetables and noodles, pop them in the boiling broth and away you go. The non-spicy side had a unpleasant fishy taste so we all ended up eating the spicy broth. Warning: IT IS VERY SPICY. Lets just say we all broke out into a small sweat and decided to reward ourselves with ice-cream afterwards for making it through in one piece.
Note: The broccoli is the absolute worst! All the chilli gets stuck in the florets!
As we were only in Shangahi for a day, we didn’t get a chance to try a lot of food, but of course we had to try Shanghai’s famous Xiaolongbao (soup filled dumplings) and we did this at Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (Lonely Planet recommended) You can either choose to eat in or take away, take away was cheaper, but you got more options if you ate in. The restaurant was more expensive than most in China due to it being a ‘delicacy’ with 6 xiaolongbao costing us (45RMB/ $6)To be completely honest, we didn’t think it was worth it. Some restaurants in Melbourne offer better and cheaper xiaolongbao.
Street food in Shanghai was readily available and cheap as well. We tried stir fried noodles (10RMB/ $2) and egg and cheese toasted roti bread (15RMB/ $3) but there were heaps of options available. Keep your eyes peeled.