Where and what to eat in China: typical dishes

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One of the great legacies to the world in culture from China is its food, the ancient gastronomy of China is so varied, so rich and so marketed that surely in this entry you will recognize several dishes, here we mention some options of what to eat in China, as well as some tips.

Let’s get started!


Chow Mein

It is a Chinese meal consisting of fried noodles, meat, onions and celery, famous because the westernized chinese restaurants serve it. The preparation can change according to the country, but all come from the Cantonese style recipe. In Hong Kong, it is prepared in the “crunchy” style, while on the west coast; it is steamed to give a “soft” result.

Hun Dun

This Chinese food is also known as Won Ton soup, and varies in preparation in each Chinese region. Some fry some ingredients, while others boil them. Won Tons or wantan, which consists of a sheet of dough filled with shrimp and pork, can be presented in the form of triangles. It is accompanied by pork, shrimp, vegetables and green onions.

where-what-to eat-china-chow-mein
Chow Mein. Source: Thejournal.ie

Mapo doufu

Known as spicy tofu, it is a typical dish of Sichuan cuisine, consisting of beef and tofu, also called soya cheese.

Chop suey

It consists of different types of vegetables such as celery, peppers and green beans that are cooked in a traditional wok. It comes with chicken, beef, shrimp or pork and cooked white rice.


It has a beautiful presentation, and as its name says, it is a flagship dish of the city of Beijing. This Chinese food dish serves in two, one to place the crispy skin of the duck, and the other with pieces of the duck’s meat plus some skin; and the other with pieces of meat of the duck plus some skin. You can soak the meat in sweet bean sauce, place it on a crepe; then place vegetables like green onions and cucumber on top, and that’s it. Fold a crepe with your hand and eat it.


It may sound very simple, but this dish of Chinese food; originally from the western areas, is a dish that can successfully satisfy your hunger. It consists of rice with tortilla and oil.


Keep in mind that Chinese cuisine presents you, mostly, very tasty dishes; very spicy with vegetables and have very intense flavors. The concept of “no spicy” is almost non-existent in China, the dishes are spicy or very spicy; so if you have a very sensitive stomach, the best thing to do is to accompany your meal with a hot drink or white rice.

In any case, you could ask the restaurant to give you a dish “without spice”, without chili or without seasoning (pepper).


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Dumplings. Source: Unsplash.com.


You must eat them fresh and at the Spring Festival in China (Chinese New Year) people eat them a lot, hence the name.. Because of its color and shape, golden, people relate it to wealth. The dough of the rolls is made with flour and they are usually filled with pork and vegetables.


Also called dumplings, you will find them anywhere in the country; they are small bags of thin dough that are filled with vegetables, meat or seafood. You can eat them after soaking them in soy sauce or hot sauce.



It’s a ball of frozen ice cream that is battered in raw egg and covered with crushed cookies, all of which is fried. It is served with cinnamon, powdered sugar, honey, vanilla and syrup.

Nian Gao

Called Chinese New Year’s cake, or rice cake; it is made with glutinous rice and brown sugar, rose water or red bean paste is added.


Tea ceremony. Source: Unsplash.com.


They even give it to you in Chinese restaurants, it’s very common to eat it. There are different types of tea, and some have flowers added to them to give them a delicious taste and aroma.


It is a fermented rice wine with low alcohol content and a magnificent floral fragrance. It is a little difficult to find in stores but it is very delicious.


  • Here are some phrases that might help you:”Nǐhǎo” = “Hello.”
    • “Zàijiàn” = “Goodbye”.
    • “Shìde” = “Yes”.
    • “Búshì” = “No”.
    • “Tuo Shao Xien” = “How much does it cost?” (keep in mind that they will answer you, sometimes, using the fingers of the hand, here’s how to interpret it).
    • “Xie xie” = “Thank you”.
    • “Ni hui shuo ying yu ma?” = “Do you speak English?”
    • “Mai dan” = “The bill”.
    • “Bula” = “No spice”.
  • Look for menus with photos: Some restaurants have them so it will be easier for you to choose the food you want. If you have doubts, you could look for an establishment with a menu in Chinese and English.
  • Guidance from another diner: Another way to choose your dish is to look at the table next to you and point out to the waiter which dish you want according to what other diners have ordered. If you see a very tasty dish, just point it out with your finger and that’s it.
  • 10 yuan is a little more than one euro: To keep the prices in mind, 10 yuan – Chinese currency – is 1,28 euros (Oct. 2019), so keep that in mind when you buy food.


  • If you’re going to eat off the street: It’s best to look at the food to see if it’s a good color, as well as if it’s got diners. Ideally, you should avoid street food, especially if you have a sensitive stomach, are allergic or have not had any vaccinations prior to your trip.
  • Prevent and don’t regret: Food is cheap, it can cost you less than two euros; so your priority when looking for a street food establishment or stall will not be to find the cheapest option, but the healthiest, and secondly, the tastiest.
  • If you don’t know how to use the sticks: Don’t worry, you can use a spoon or fork. You can either pack it in your suitcase or ask your hotel or restaurant if they have it. If you suffer with the white rice to grab it with the chopsticks, just crush them a little and grab it. Keep in mind that Chinese rice is doughy.

About what to bring in the suitcase, the best time to travel, accommodations, documentation and requirements, Internet connection, currency exchange, what to do in China, travel insurance, is it safe to travel to China, SIM card for China, how to rent a car in China, things prohibited in China, best VPN for China, among others.

About the author

Herman Rosero

Soy diseñador, me gusta la empatía y entender las necesidades de los demás. En Travelistos te ayudaré a (diseñar) organizar tu viaje, dándote a conocer lugares, actividades, opiniones; que te pueden ser útiles antes, durante y después del viaje.

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