Food culture is one of the most important culture of China. Many cities in China offer a variety of flavors for visitors. If you just came to China to sample the best authentic food in authentic settings, where should you go? Here are the China’s 20 premier gourmet cities only for you reference.
Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, is famous for its “Xiang” Cuisine, one of the Eight Cuisines of China. Hunan cuisine in Changsha is characterized by the fine shape, exquisite knifing and spicy flavor, etc. with bright color and full-bodied flavor.
Famous Changsha dishes include Dong’an Chicken, Mala ziji (Hot-spiced and Peppered Fledgling Chicken), Lawei hezheng (Assorted Cured Meat) and Fermented Bean Curd, Spicy Crayfish, Crisp Duck with Sesame, Cured Meat Made Dish and Spicy Chicken, chilli fish head.
Crowned as Asia’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2010, Chengdu Chengdu offers authentic Sichuan cuisine, which is reputed for its spicy and hot taste, thick aroma and varied cooking methods, etc.
Signature dishes: Hot Pot, Mapo Tofu, Spicy Diced Chicken with Peanuts and Yu-Shiang Shredded Pork, Sichuan hotpot, kungpao chicken, Boiled beef and Fish, beer-braised duck,etc.
Known as a “Mountain City”, Chongqing is known for its mouthwatering hot and spicy cuisine. Chongqing cuisine is spicier and stronger in taste than Sichuan Cuisine.
The representative dishes are Chongqing hotpot, boiled fish, boiled fish with pickled vegetable, old duck soup, hot and sour rice noodles, spicy chicken, Quanshui chicken, Duck blood in chili sauce, etc.
Beijing, the political and cultural heart of China, brings together various cuisines from different parts of the country. Apart from the Chinese Imperial style, featureing elaborate cooking methods and strict selections of ingredients, elegant French Cuisine, nutritious Japanese food, hot Italian flavor and other popular dishes worldwide are also available.
Representative Dishes: Beijing Roasted Duck (Quanjude), Mongolian hotpot, imperial cuisine.
As a global city metropolis, shanghai offers so many culinary options. Its own developed cuisine – Ben Bang Cuisine are usually characterized by their use of heavy and highly flavored sauces. It is also epitomized by the use of alcohol and sugar. Fish, crab, chicken are “drunken” with spirits and are briskly cooked/steamed or served raw.
Main dishes include Xiao Long Bao (small steamed stuffed bun), Da Zha Xie, Smoked Fish Slices, Shanghai pepper duck, Beggars Chicken, Red-Cooked Chicken.
Located in southern China, Guangzhou is home to Canton Cuisine which highlights on the sweet taste and is characterized by fresh clean flavors, seafood, barbecued meats and the wonderful tradition of yum cha. Cantonese is fond of eating and skilled in cooking and food innovation, thus in China, there is a saying goes that “Eating in Guangzhou”.
Specialties: white cut chicken, Roasted Suckling Pig and varied seafood dishes, Dim Sum like Wonton, Double-layer Steamed Milk and Herb Jelly, spring rolls.
Known as “the heaven on earth,” Hangzhou has charming scenery and featured local cuisine. Hangzhou Cuisine is famous for its fresh and tender taste, bright color and fine modeling. All ingredients come from the fertile land of Hangzhou which known as a land of plenty.
Main dishes: West Lake (Water Shield) Soup, Dongpo’s Braised Pork, Fish Ball Soup, beggar’s chicken, longjing fried shrimp and West Lake vinegar fish.
As a bustling cosmopolis, Hongkong also has restaurants selling high-quality food from many countries of the world, most notably Japanese, Korean, and British food and South Asia apart from offering Cantonese style food, along with good seafood, and dim sum (tea and a light meal, peculiar to HK).
If take a tour to Macau, its Portugal style dishes, snacks and Canton style dessert, such as Portuguese Custardtart and Almond Cake, are tasty food you should not miss.
Tianjin dining is well known throughout China. While famous for its traditional snacks, cuisines from regions all over China can also be found in Tianjin.
Renowned food: Goubuli bao zi (Goubuli sttuffed buns), Shibajie ma hua (18th Street fried dough twists) and Ear duo yan zha gao (ear-hole-like fried rice cakes), Chatang, Guobacai and Tangdui.
Xi’an is a representative place for the Northwest food style with wheat flour as the main material.
Traditional dishes: Roast Piglet and Chicken in Bottle Gourd, Steamed Bun Soaked in Mutton Soup, Fan-Family Cured Meat Broth.
Nanjing is famous for Jingsu Cuisine, which features for a careful and prominent selection of ingredients, attractive colors and impressive fragrances.
Famous local dishes: Yanshui Ya (salted and baked duck), Qinhuai eight must.
Turpan would be a great place to eat and hand-pulled noodles, as this is where these dishes originate.
Specialties: lamb kawbab and crispy rounds of nang bread, whole roast lamb.
Fujian cuisine, developed in Fujian Province on the Pacific, is known for its spices and soups. Also, many visitors go to Xiamen for great seafood and authentic sweet and sour dishes.
Delicious Dishes: oyster omelette, Satay noodles
Foshan is a “Delicious Food Hometown” in the Pearl River Delta. Featuring a wide range of ingredients, Foshan cuisine lays its emphasis on deep frying, stewing, and baking.
Famous dishes: Yingji Yuntun Noodle, Crystal Ravioli, Number One Scholar’s Porridge and Foshan Nine-layer Cake.
Synonymous in the minds of food-lovers with hand-pulled beef noodles, Lanzhou also has one of the liveliest street food night markets in China.
Highlights: whole grilled fish seasoned with aromatic cumin and sesame paste, sweet, hot bowls of nai zhou (milk rice with sultanas, peanuts, sesame seed and beaten egg), and flaky pastry rou bing stuffed with meat.
Shanxi is home jin cai, characterized by the liberal use of vinegar, round breads and pastries (known as bing) and hundreds of varieties of noodles.
Specialties: the delicate chrysanthemum shao mai (steamed dumplings favored by the Empress Cixi), and the uual yangsheng hulusi.
As one of China’s best seafood cities, there is no better accompaniment to Tsingtao’s refreshing brew than the local shrimp, clams, geoducks, sea cucumbers and crayfish.
Tsingtao cuisine places emphasis on preserving the seafood’s fresh taste without using complex heavy sauces.
Shaoxing, an ancient canal city, is home to huangjiu, an amber-colored rice wine that’s ubiquitous in Chinese cooking.
Delicacies: crispy-skinned chicken, smoked red dates in rice wine, beans flavored with fennel, and crispy bream in rice wine, Fried fermented tofu, Braised pork with preserved vegetable in soya sauce.
At the base of the remote “Dragon’s Backbone” rice terraces in Guilin, Dazhai is the best destination in China to enjoy fresh food as well as a stunning natural landscape on one trip.
Dishes: stir-fried pumpkin with fern shoots, or sticky rice cooked inside bamboo.
Wuhan is one of the nine National Central Cities of China and is recognized as the political, economic, financial, cultural, educational and transportation center of central China. It is known as ‘China’s Thoroughfare’ and is referred to as “the Chicago of China” by foreign sources.
Hubei cuisine is one of China’s ten major styles of cooking, originating in ancient Chu cuisine.
Distinctive dishes: dìcài zhǔ jīdàn, Hot and dry noodles, Duck’s neck or Ya Bozi, doupi, Soup dumpling or xiaolongtangbao, A salty doughnut or mianwo.
Dali is perhaps most well-known for dishes historically cooked by the Bai, one of ethnic minority groups.
Characteristic dishes: “Three-course Tea”, Fish Stewed with Chicken in Casserole and Dengchuan Milk Fan, Xizhou cake, marmite fish, Erhai plums.
Apart from these representative cities and well-known dishes and snakes, there are other cities and mouthwatering dishes deserve visiting and tasting. It is worthy of you taking a tour to China and you will love various aspects of the country.