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HomeNews and travel articles10 traditional dishes to taste in China

10 traditional dishes to taste in China

20 February, 2019
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Food in China

China is known for its varied cuisine, of which dishes such as Peking duck and dumplings are some of the most famous.

And Chinese cuisine offers a wealth of exciting dishes made from fresh ingredients and often cooked in delicious marinades.

Below, you can read our suggestions for 10 delicious and traditional dishes you should try on your holiday to China.

Peking duck (Běijīng kǎoyā – 北京烤鸭)

Peking duck

Peking duck is a popular dish that has almost become a national symbol of China. And the dish dates way back – Peking duck was a regular dish at the court during the Ming dynasty in the 15th century.

The duck is cooked in such a way that the meat is lovely and juicy, while the skin on the outside is crisp.

When you order the dish at a Chinese restaurant, the chef sometimes comes to the table and shows the whole roast duck to the guests, after which it is carved at the table and served with thin pancakes, fresh cucumber, spring onions, shallots, garlic dip and sauce.

Sweet and Sour pork (táng cù lǐjǐ – 糖醋里脊)

Sweet and Sour pork

Deep-fried pork marinated in sweet-sour sauce is probably one of the most popular Chinese dishes outside China. And yet, it is also one of the dishes you should taste on your holiday to China.

The dish is colourful with a delicious sweet and sour flavour. It consists of pork cut into strips and deep-fried, which is then turned tossed in the marinade.

The marinade is regional, so you also enjoy different taste experiences depending on where you eat it. In some places, the marinade is made from sugar and vinegar, while elsewhere, it is based on ketchup, which is actually a Western dip.

Mapo Tofu (má pó dòu fǔ – 麻婆豆腐)

Mapo Tofu

Originally from China, Tofu has been used in Chinese cuisine for more than 2,000 years and remains one of the Chinese favourites to this day.

A delicious, traditional Chinese dish made with tofu is mapo tofu. The dish consists of tofu pieces in a spicy chilli sauce.

The dish is basically vegetarian, but it is also sometimes served with pork or beef.

Meat skewers (chuàn – 串)

Meat skewers

Chuan is a kind of meat skewer or kebab. The skewers are available with many different kinds of meat, but you will often spot chuan with lamb.

The meat is cubed, marinated and threaded onto bamboo skewers. Before being roasted, the meat is seasoned with salt, dried chilli and cumin.

Chuan can often be purchased at Chinese street kitchens and at night markets, where they are cooked on a barbecue.

Dumplings (jiǎo zi – 饺子)


Dumplings are small dough parcels containing small pieces of meat or vegetables, which are fried, cooked or steamed.

The type of dumplings most commonly served in China is a version stuffed with Chinese cabbage, spring onions and shrimp or pork. But the dish is also available with many other types of vegetables and meat.

Dumplings are especially popular for New Year. Some people insert a coin in a random dumpling during cooking, and it is said that the person who gets the coin will have good luck in the coming year.

Hot pot (huǒguō -火锅)

hot pot

Hot pot is the Chinese version of fondue, where you cook the food yourself at the table.

The waiter places a saucepan of boiling bouillon (different flavours and spicyness) on the table, and then you order vegetables and meat, which you boil yourself. Once the ingredients are cooked, they are taken out and dipped in a delicious peanut butter sauce.

This is a great dish for eating in company, as it is a slow and cosy way to eat, giving you plenty of time to sit and talk to your friends and family and enjoy the exotic experience.

Kung Pao chicken (gōngbǎo jīdīng – 宫保鸡丁)

Kung Pao chicken

Another popular dish in China is kung pao chicken, which consists of chicken pieces cooked with dried chilli, spring onions, garlic, ginger and Sichuan peppercorns. Vegetables and roasted peanuts are added to the dish.

Despite the fact that there is chilli in king pao chicken, it is one of the least spicy dishes in Chinese cuisine. However, the dish is made differently in different places in China, so you might get a spicy version.

The dish originates from Sichuan Province.

Bubble tea (bōbà nǎichá – 波霸奶茶)

Bubble tea

If you’re in need of cold refreshment when exploring China’s exciting cities, you should try bubble tea.

Bubble tea, or pearl milk tea, is a unique tea drink that became particularly popular in Asia in the 1980s.

The drink is made of a black or green tea base, such as matcha. The base is mixed with milk, and then fruit juice is added, giving the drink a fresh taste.

Then the special tapioca pearls are added, which have a jelly-like consistency. The tapioca is the “bubbles” in bubble tea and typically fills much of the glass. So, the tea is more of a snack than a drink.

The tea can be served either ice-cold or hot, and it is drunk through a wide straw so that the tapioca can be sucked up.

Muslim noodles (lāmiàn 拉面)

Muslim noodles

China is home to some 23 million Muslims, who have had a major influence on Chinese cuisine. This has resulted in handmade Muslim noodles being added to the menu.

Muslim noodles are thick and slightly chewy, and they are hand pulled. The noodles served at a restaurant are very inexpensive. They come in a myriad of dishes, served, for example, with different kinds of meat or eggs.

Tomato and egg stir fry (xī hóng shì chǎo dàn – 西红柿炒鸡蛋)

Tomato and egg stir fry

This vegetarian dish simply consists of eggs and tomatoes. And though it might sound simple, it just tastes different in China than if you try to make it at home.

The eggs are often made in the same way as scrambled eggs, and the tomatoes are chopped and cooked in the pan.

When you order the dish, it is often served with vinegar and spring onions, but it can also be eaten with noodles and rice.

Fancy experiencing Chinese cuisine? Check out these tours

Chinese cuisine offers a multitude of culinary and authentic dishes dating back centuries.

Would you like to eat dumplings in a Chinese street kitchen or Peking duck in Beijing? Then take a look at our holidays to China and find inspiration for a culinary dream holiday to one of the world’s largest countries.

Bon appétit!

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