China really surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect but at every corner I found myself enjoying it much more than I expected. A whirlwind but incredibly memorable trip thanks to Sri Lankan Airlines made me realize Chinese food isn’t about the outlandish things you see on TV. I’ve picked 7 Chinese dishes that I personally loved and could eat repeatedly. If you’re planning a trip to China, this might help.
Beijing turned out to be such an incredible hub for food. The most treasured dish there is the famous Peking Duck. There is a fine skill to roasting this duck and then carving it but locals won’t let any cooking techniques deter them. If there is a celebration then Peking Duck it is ! Mostly eaten with a thin crepe like pancake along with sauces and condiments but if you’re really in the mood for just the meat you can eat it as is.
Sichuan Hot Pot
A tour guide in Beijing explained what a Sichuan Hot Pot is and while I didn’t get the chance to try one, I realised I had eaten it in Macau and loved it. A steaming spicy base broth which you then fill with your choice of meat and vegetables. The pot is served on a mini stove at your table and continues to boil and cook your meats as you eat. It was something I relished in Macau and so makes it to my list of best eats.
Xiao Long Bao
Shanghai is known for all their sky scrapers and bright lights but their real claim to fame is the Xiao Long Bao, or soupy dumpling as I like to call it. They’re my favourite dumpling and I enjoy eating it where ever I go but didn’t realise that it originated in Shanghai. The dumpling is stuffed with pork mince or something even crab mince and broth and needs to be eaten carefully with a chopstick and a soup spoon. I’ve had plenty of these but for the first time found some real king sized ones that needed to be eaten with a straw!
Beef Chili Stir Fry
While pork is always the preferred meat of choice, beef comes a close second. Almost every beef dish is tossed in chili and stir fried. It is my personal favourite and possibly the best way for me to enjoy some excellent beef. Best eaten with plain rice or a mix of streamed vegetables, make sure you try this when you visit China.
I don’t really know if there is an official name for this I couldn’t find anything so I’ve decided to call it breakfast soup. I had this almost every morning which is basically a superbly flavourful broth with noodles, bean sprouts, squid and some other fillings of your choice ( pork balls, fish balls etc ). I’d top this with some chili oil and enjoy it and I really think it makes for such a simple but wholesome meal.
China loves their dim sum but pork is always a clear favourite. Unlike back home in Mumbai where there are multiple dumpling options and most are mixture of chicken with celery or mushroom or even shrimp. Here it’s all about the pork and with good reason – they’re delicious!
Black Fungus Mushrooms
This isn’t a specific dish, it’s actually just highlighting an ingredient. I came across these black fungus mushrooms, a variety I hadn’t eaten before that seemed quite interesting. I’ll be honest it wasn’t my favourite, the vegetarians really seemed to love it but it has this unusual button like look and was a bit too chewy for me. Despite not wanting seconds it still makes it to my list because it’s so unique and I think merits a try.
Disclaimer : My trip to China and all this wonderful food was made possible thanks to Srilankan Airlines. As always, thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions are my own 🙂
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