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  • Writer's pictureDavid Cheung

Eating in China

China is known for its rich culinary heritage, with a wide range of flavours, spices, and cooking styles that vary from region to region. From spicy Sichuan dishes to Cantonese dim sum, Chinese cuisine is diverse and flavourful, and exploring it can be an exciting adventure for foodie tourists. In this article, we will provide tips on how to explore China's many cuisines and sample the best dishes.

Research the different cuisines: China has eight major cuisines, including Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, Shandong, Fujianese, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui. Each cuisine has its own unique flavours and ingredients, and it's worth researching them before your trip to get a sense of what to expect. You can also use food blogs and travel websites to find recommendations for must-try dishes and restaurants.

Take a food tour: A food tour is an excellent way to explore Chinese cuisine and sample different dishes. Many cities in China offer food tours, led by knowledgeable guides who will take you to local eateries and street food vendors. You'll have the opportunity to try a variety of dishes and learn about the history and culture behind them.

Visit local markets: Local markets are a great place to sample Chinese street food and see the ingredients used in different dishes. You can find fresh produce, meat, seafood, and spices, and even sample exotic foods like scorpions and silk worms. It's important to exercise caution when eating street food and to choose vendors with good hygiene practices.

Visit specialty restaurants: China is home to many specialty restaurants that focus on a particular cuisine or dish. For example, you can visit a hotpot restaurant in Sichuan, a dumpling restaurant in Shanghai, or a roast duck restaurant in Beijing. Specialty restaurants are often crowded and have long wait times, but the food is worth the wait.

Take a cooking class: If you're interested in learning how to cook Chinese cuisine, taking a cooking class is an excellent option. Many cooking schools in China offer classes in English, where you can learn to make dishes like kung pao chicken or steamed buns. You'll have the opportunity to shop for ingredients at a local market and learn about Chinese cooking techniques.

Try regional snacks: China is home to many regional snacks, like baozi (steamed buns), jianbing (Chinese crepes), and roujiamo (Chinese burgers). These snacks are often sold by street vendors and are a great way to sample local flavours. You can also find specialty shops that sell regional snacks, like jianbing shops in Beijing.

Tips for exploring Chinese cuisine:

  • Be adventurous and try new dishes and ingredients.

  • Learn basic Mandarin phrases to communicate with locals and order food.

  • Follow hygiene practices when eating street food.

  • Be aware of food allergies and intolerances and ask for ingredients before ordering.

  • Be prepared for spicy food in Sichuan and Hunan cuisine.

Exploring Chinese cuisine is a fascinating and rewarding experience for foodie tourists. By researching the different cuisines, taking a food tour, visiting local markets, and trying specialty restaurants and regional snacks, you can sample the best dishes and learn about the history and culture behind them. With these tips, you'll be able to make the most of your culinary adventure in China.

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