You may think you know Chinese food, but your local takeout is nothing like the dishes you’ll find in China. Varied by region, authentic Chinese food focuses on fresh produce, many different spices and fried food is rare. Don’t expect to find Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken or Fortune Cookies, these are American inventions.Here’s our Top Picks of Chinese Dishes You Probably Haven’t Tried Yet, But Should:
Rou Jia Mo (Chinese Hamburger)
Originating in the Shaanxi Province, Rou Jia Mo is a savory mix of shredded meat and chewy bread. And hold the ketchup- meat is flavored with a chili and gravy mix and each vendor sells their own unique recipe. This Han Dynasty snack may be the world’s oldest sandwich, with the bread originating back to 221 BC and meat back to about 1045 BC.
Chinese Hamburger / ©bfshadow/Flickr
Chuan’r (Chinese Kebabs)
Stroll down any street in China on a summer evening and you’ll find outdoor night stalls called dapaidang serving Chuan’r. Crowds of vendors mix salt, chili flakes and cumin together as rub for the meat which is then skewered and barbecued over charcoal fires until crispy goodness.
China’r / ©bilbaobab/Flickr
Bing Tanghulu (Candied Hawthorns)
Chinese hawthorns are covered with sugar syrup and skewered for a tangy mix of sweet and sour. Every bite is a treat, first crunching through the hard and sweet exterior and into the soft and sour fruit inside. Popular in central Beijing, you can find versions made with strawberries and apples but hawthorns are most popular.
Tanghulu / ©jimmiehomeschoolmom/Flickr
Huo Guo (Hotpot)
This spicy Sichuan dish is not only delicious, but fun to eat! Sit around the table with sunken burners at the center and start dipping! Just dunk your meats and vegetables into the sizzling broth and once it’s cooked (it won’t take long!), scoop it out, dip into a sesame oil mixture and chow down! If you like spice, the region’s Huajio peppers will not disappoint!
Cifantuan (Glutinous rice balls)
These rice balls are filled with all sorts of delicious flavors such as pickled vegetables, deep fried dough or pork. Those with a sweet tooth enjoy the same but with added sesame and sugar. These are popular breakfast foods in Shanghai, usually sold by street vendors.
As you can see, the food on your China vacation could uncover some surprises! But please remember, always follow the advice of your guides when exploring your food options. What are some of your most memorable local foods while traveling?