Ruta 8
Chinese food

Food in China
what to expect

Food in China can often be misinterpreted greatly because of some Chinese restaurants in the west or the belief that the cuisine is all about ´exotic meat´ and insects. While there are a lot of misconceptions out there, Chinese cuisine shouldn´t be underestimated. If you open yourself up to discover new flavours and aromas, you won´t regret it.
Here, we cover the basics and share our personal experience.
  • The basics

    The major staple in China is rice and it´s mainly consumed in the south where it´s grown. It can be consumed as a main dish, for making noodles, wine and deserts.

    Noodles can also be made from wheat flour which is commonly available in the north. Stir-fried noodles or soups with vegetables and meat are some of the dishes you will frequently see here.

  • Vegetarians don´t panic

    Although the consumption of meat per capita in China has risen recently due to higher income, vegetarians shouldn´t panic. Vegetables still have a strong presence at the table. Served as a stir-fry (which you can consider as your main dish- if you´re vegetarian or vegan), or with tofu, meat or eggs.

    You can find a vast selection on the menu and some you might have never heard of.
    Bamboo shoots, mushrooms, lotus roots, Chinese aubergines and dark leafy greens are some examples.

    You can also expect to find eggs in many dishes, either for breakfast, main meals or as a portable snack. We once got a juice and a boiled egg after checking in to a hotel. Forget the cereal bars!

    Chinese vegetables

  • Flavours & textures

    When it comes to seasoning; ginger, chillies, star anise and garlic are some of the most common ingredients of Chinese food. The famous Sichuan pepper for example, adds a special aroma to many dishes.
    We particularly liked a fish stew we had in Beijing with Sichuan pepper. But if spicy food is not for you, there are plenty of non-spicy options.

    Sichuan peppercorn
    As for meat, pork is king! And if you are visiting the country for the first time you can certainly expect to see insects in Street food Markets or donkey meat on the menu, but that´s not all. Chinese cuisine has had influences from various civilizations throughout history, including the Portuguese and the Russians for instance which have enriched the national cuisine.

  • Open your mind & mouth

    Although Chinese cuisine is hard to define due to its vast territory and different ethnic groups it´s roughly divided into 8 regional cuisines. And while Sichuan cuisine is often characterized by strong flavours and spiciness, food from Jiangsu for instance is known for its light and fresh selection of ingredients.

    8 main Chinese cuisines

    We found that the food caters for meat lovers, vegetarians and even vegans. When we have meat for instance, we prefer it in small quantities and we found many dishes to please our requirements. If you are open to the new and different, Chinese cuisine could surprise you.

    Tip: In Beijing we tried Qin Tang Fu restaurant - 128, Dongsi N Street, Dongcheng - and loved it. The meals are inexpensive and tasty. It was the best Biangbiang noodles I tried in the whole trip. Highly recommend it!

    Here we list some of our favourite dishes we had.
    Hover on the picture.

    Cheungfung: Steamed rice noodle rools with egg & spring onion Cheungfung
    Biangbiang: Noodles with chilli sauce & tomato Biang Biang noodles
    Fish: Sichuan pepper & rice Fish with Sichuan pepper
    Noodles: pork, bean paste and egg Noodles
    Breakfast: Buns & Congee (rice porridge) Chinese breakfast
    Bao: steamed buns with savoury or sweet filling Bao chinese dumpling
    Jianbing (breakfast): Crepe with bean sauce and egg Jianbing
    Roujiamo: Flat bread with pulled pork Roujiamo