Experience China's tasty food the Chinese way


There are certain things you should get to know when going to China and one of them is Chinese food. Whether you stay in an international hotel, a cheap backpacker’s place or are living in a Chinese apartment building, the moment will come where you are hungry and looking for a place to eat and then you should know what possibilities you have.

In China’s capital Beijing there are many ways to satisfy ones craving for whatever kind of food. You can enjoy dishes from all over the world, no matter what you want, you can definitely find it in Beijing. Of course it is also a question of how much money you want to spend during your stay in China.

If you want to stick to Western food, you have the possibility between the either relatively cheap fast-food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC or the far more expensive international restaurants. Once you decide to have Chinese food though, it becomes very interesting.

The cheapest way to eat in China is by bying food which is being cooked on the sidewalk right before you in a huge basin with some undefinable broth in it. You can choose between green vegetables, tofu, meat, fish and various other exotic animals like scorpions, starfishes and silkworms all neatly arranged on a skewer. If you generally like fast-food and are not fussy about not knowing what is exactly in the broth, which hardly ever gets changed during the day, then you will probably enjoy this kind of meal.

The second cheapest version of Chinese food can be found in foodstalls, which cover all of China and offer very basic food. Here you can enjoy your meal while sitting either on a plastic stool or an actual chair next to a very greasy table.

The Rush-hour of the Chinese people eating out should be avoided, if you like to have your own table without sharing it with someone slurping his soup loudly or practically ending up in his meal with his head as he is trying to stuff the food into his mouth to avoid it ending up on the table, although Chinese people don’t really mind if it happens. So breakfast time is around 6 am, lunchtime starts very early at 11:30 am and dinnertime starts after 7 pm.

In China the food of the foodstalls is generally very good, but the choice is slightly limited as the ingredients of the dishes stay the same except for being mixed with either flat rice noodles, rice vermicelli, glass noodles, fried noodles, noodles in soup, steamed rice or fried rice.

Many people in China eat out at the foodstalls as they don’t have much money and want to have a quick and filling meal. But remember not to expect there to be lean meat and lots of vegetables in the dishes. The meat usually has quite some fat on it and the vegetables, well for the vegetables you very often have to do some research on your meal before you can find some vegetables.  So someone who doesn’t want to eat carbohydrates,  wants to have a wide choice of vegetables and try out China's huge variety of food should go to a proper Chinese restaurant where you actually have a tablecloth on your table.

Of course the menus in China are written in Chinese characters and in order to find out what kind of food one is ordering, one either has to simply order a meal, find out what it is and for future use remember what the characters looked like or find out what the meals are called beforehand. If you are lucky, you will end up in a restaurant which offers a good display of pictures which will give you a slight idea of what you could be ordering. But don’t be surprised if the waiter all of a sudden presents you with a dish that looks very weird and does not resemble the actual picture.

The service quality in all of the restaurants generally ranges from unattentive and slow to efficient and very obliging. The hygienic conditions in most of the restaurants apart from the expensive ones should not receive particular attention as the occasional cockroach passing by your table does not affect the deliciousness of Chinese food.

Here are some examples of the dishes you can order in China:


steamed dumplings


with Longan stuffed and steamed bun


Sichuan noodles with peppery sauce


pickled Chinese vegetables with noodles


egg and tomato with noodles


stewed chicken with Shiitake mushrooms and noodles


red-cooked beef


red-cooked pig’s large intestines


flat rice-noodles


laver soup


wontan soup


wonton soup with chili-oil


sugared tomatoes


melon strips with lemon


cold beef with soyasauce


cold chicken gizzard dressed with sauce


cold rasped radish dressed with sauce


pork liver with rice


diced Chili-chicken with rice


fermented glutinous rice with egg


spicy bean jelly


fried rice with bacon


vegetarian fried flat-rice-noodles


vegetarian fried rice-flour noodles


sweet and sour melon strips


fried peanuts with rice


mixed kelp


spring onions with tofu


shelled peanuts with five spices


dried beancurd strips in tight rolls with sesame oil


pig’s ear cut into small pieces with chili-oil


strips of a pig’s stomach with chili-oil


elbow with soysauce


pig/ox tongue with mashed garlic


Chinese spinach with bean vermicelli


diced chicken with peanuts in a chili-sauce and rice


sliced meat with green cayenne pepper and rice

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