*Based on observations from Shanghai, Xian and Beijing*
Eating and trying local delicacies is one of my favourite aspects of travelling. I always enjoyed Chinese, but never realised until I went to China that the food I had in Europe was a far cry from the authentic Chinese cuisine. While living in China I had a chance to discover many delicious foods and flavours and I want to share them with you!
包子 bao zi – steamed buns with a filling. It’s so yummy there’s a risk of becoming addicted. There are vegetable, meat and sweet fillings, however the vegetable ones are especially tasty. Together with warm soy milk baozi make a very popular ‘to go’ breakfast in China.
Where: You can find them pretty much on every corner of the city between 7am&10am.
Price: Baozi ￥1.20 – ￥1.50 （$0.20 – $0.25) Soy milk ￥2.50 ($0.40)
饺子 jiao zi – dumplings Everyone has heard of Chinese dumplings, but did you know they come in many various forms and even more fillings? There are a few kinds of veggie dumplings, egg dumplings, all sorts of meat dumplings, sweet dumplings, dumplings in soup, steamed dumplings Oh you want to try them all! (unless you’re a veggie like me then you steer clear from the meat, duh!) Usually eaten for lunch.
Where: Dumpling restaurants don’t normally stand out and aren’t easy to spot(unless you can read the Chinese characters). It’s best to ask a local or have a Chinese translation handy. Like this one 饺子馆（jiao zi guan – dumpling restaurant).
Price: 1 portion (6 dumplings) ￥5 ($0.80) Dumpling soup ￥10 – ￥15 ($1.60 – $2.40)
煎饼 jian bing – sweet salty and crunchy pancakes with herbs, egg (or sausage, or both) thick sauces and a crispy fried flat bread (油条 you tiao) topped with tomato sauce and mayonnaise. The crunchy fried dough is what makes jian bing so divinely delicious and loved by everyone. A definite must-try.
Where: Sold by street food vendors very likely to be found outside metro stations during peak hours.
Price: ￥2.50 ($0.40)
粽子 zong zi – bamboo rice wraps Uncooked glutinous(sticky) rice with meat, egg, date, red bean or other fillings are wrapped in bamboo leaves, tied with a piece of straw/string and then cooked by steaming or boiling. This traditional food is very popular around the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duan wu jie).
Where: Street food vendors or food markets.
Price: ￥4 ($0.65)
素菜 su cai 荤菜 hun cai – vegetable/meat dishes A wide selection of various vegetables and meats served in small portions with rice and soup, very popular among the locals during lunch and dinner hours. Two of my favourites are scrambled eggs with tomatoes (西红柿炒蛋 xi hong shi chao dan) and Chinese cabbage Bok Choy (青菜 qing cai). Delicious!
Where: Canteen-like restaurants where you can chose already prepared dishes (pointing at them is totally acceptable:) commonly known as 自选快餐店 zi xuan kuai can dian – which literally means self-pick fast food restaurant. Very popular among the locals during lunch and dinner hours.
Price: a veggie dish ￥3($0.50) an egg or meat dish ￥4($0.65) unlimited rice and soup ￥1($0.15)
I also learnt the Chinese ways of preparing meals which I’ll talk about in Chinese Food Part Two. Have you ever tried frying or boiling lettuce? I have and it tastes scrumptious!