Foods You Should Try as a Newcomer to China

Foods You Should Try as a Newcomer to China

Do you have that one drive-thru Chinese place near your house that is your go-to on a busy weeknight?

Or, maybe it is that Chinese buffet with orange chicken that is simply out of this world.

For me, just about anything with fried rice speaks to me…

Throw some Mongolian beef, orange chicken, or General Tso’s chicken on it and I’m there with my chopsticks in hand.

But, do you ever consider that the Chinese food that we so frequently indulge in might be a more Western version than what you could expect to experience in China itself.

Between vast internship opportunities, a booming tech market, and must-see tourist attractions, China has something to offer just about anyone.

Whether you decide to take a quick trip that way or you choose to make the country your temporary – or even permanent – home, you will be introduced to all of the tasty and unique foods China has to offer.

Of course, you can still find a few Western restaurants such as KFC and Pizza Hut…

But, while visiting China, why not try to explore your options?

One of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a new country is to adopt their everyday norms – one of the main activities being eating.

How does China’s food differ from Western culture?

When visiting China, you are probably expecting an even better version of the typical Chinese food you enjoy at home…

But remember, that is the Westernized version.

One main difference in the Chinese diet and Western diet is the variation in dessert courses. Most Chinese people don’t have a sweet tooth – they are often lactose-intolerant and get the majority of their rich, sweet flavors from their main dishes. Therefore, any cakes, biscuits, or puddings that you try will likely seem very bland to your sugar-craving palate.

For most common American Chinese dishes, there is an authentic Chinese sister dish

For example, instead of a crab ragoon, you would order Xiao Long Boa – or a soup dumpling.

Another one of the most common traditions in America at a Chinese restaurant is ending your meal with a fortune cookie, however, fortune cookies are not even Chinese. In Chinese culture, people typically end their meals with a slice of orange.

But, don’t get discouraged by the lack of beef with broccoli or General Tso’s chicken; there are plenty of flavorful dishes that await you.

When first trying Chinese food – true Chinese food, not the Chinese buffet at your local mall – there are a few must-haves:

1. Roasted Duck

If your heart desires a rich poultry dish, order Peking duck or Beijing roasted duck. The tender protein is famous for its flavorful, crispy skin and succulent meat.

During the roasting process, compressed air is injected into the duck between the skin and flesh, giving the skin a shiny and glossy look.

Try pairing it with some scallions and hoisin sauce, then wrap it in a pancake for a traditional duck dining experience.

2. Zha Jiang Mian

If you aren’t eating fried rice, you probably go for the American-style lo mein noodles which are thick wheat flour noodles typically stir fried with meat and/or vegetables.

However, zha jiang mian is a much more authentic and much more flavorful dish topped with stir-fried pork and zhajiang – fermented soybean paste.

This hearty dish is both tasty and satisfying. You are sure to hear moans of hunger from local people when those three words are spoken.

3. Shrimp Dumpling Soup

The sister dish to wonton soup, this warm and calming dish consists of a thick noodle wrapped around a clump of pork. The dumplings are then placed in a bowl of broth and the soup is filled with fresh noodles.

This region of the world is famous for their noodle soups, so this is a dish you won’t want to miss!

4. La Zi Ji

If heat is the name of your game, keep reading…

Translated, la zi ji means chicken with chilies. Instead of sesame chicken, try this spicy dish that consists of fried chicken breasts, peppercorn, toasted sesame, and chili. You will still enjoy the same crunch as the fried chicken in sesame chicken, but with much more flavor!

5. Yu Xiang Rou Si

Chinese people don’t eat much beef, so you likely won’t find your beloved beef and broccoli combo, however, this dish might just take the cake instead…

Yu xiang rou si is a flavorful and spicy dish with pork and sautéed vegetables such as peppers and mushrooms. Still the same simple concept as broccoli and beef, but with an authentic twist that will leave you running back for more.

6. Chinese Dumplings

A widely popular food in China is their traditional dumplings – these are especially a hit in North China. This dish consists of a piece of thin, elastic dough filled with minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables. The most popular meat fillings include diced shrimp, fish, beef, ground chicken, and minced pork.

If you head over to Xi’an, check out a dumpling banquet where you can enjoy various kinds of dumplings.

7. Iou Jia Mo

If you find yourself craving a burger, rather than finding the closest Western fast food chain, look no further than a local iou jia mo. This dish is the Chinese version of a burger which consists of shredded or pulled meat – commonly pork – stuffed into a doughy flatbread bun.

This popular street food gained popularity in the Shaanxi province, but can now be found just about everywhere in China.

8. Dan Dan Mein

With noodle dishes being one of China’s specialties, it should not surprise you that another one is popping up on the list…

This warm noodle dish is commonly served on the streets of the Sichuan province. It consists of thin noodles swimming in chile oil with minced pork and pickled vegetables on top.

Wrapping It Up

While some of the ingredients in these dishes might not sound very appetizing, you would be surprised with what you just might fall in love with if you give it a shot.

Not only will you truly immerse yourself in the Chinese culture, but you might just discover your new favorite cuisine.

Let us hear from you: Have you been to China before? What was your favorite authentic dish?

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


Thank You For Sharing!

SHARE this on Facebook SHARE this on Twitter


Post a Comment

Looking for Budget Travel Guide Blogs, Hotel Reviews, and Sample DIY Itineraries?
Welcome to Pinoy Adventurista, "Your Next Ultimate Adventure Starts Here!"

Pinoy Adventurista is one of the Top Travel Blogs in the Philippines and the World. In 2013, he visited all the 81 provinces in the Philippines.