Indulging in China’s wide spectrum of cuisine is truly a wonderful experience. Enjoy the 16 most popular Chinese dishes, from Peking roast duck, Sichuan hot pot to Kung Pao Chicken and dumping, and make your culinary trip in China focus on real local foods.
And what is your favorite Chinese food?
1. Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles (拉州拉面 lán zhōu lā miàn)
You can find Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles restaurant in every city of China. Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles is famous for its unique flavor of "clear soup, fragrant meat rotten and fine noodles". The main ingredients include white radish, coriander, garlic sprout and chili oil. Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles are highly praised by noodle lovers all over the world, and known among Chinese people as "the first noodle under heaven".
You may also interested in: Top 10 Chinese Noodles
2. Beijing roast duck (北京烤鸭běi jīng kǎoyā)
Roast duck is a world-famous royal dish of Beijing originated in the Southern and Northern Dynasties of China (420-589). Roasted over charcoal fire, it is characterized by its red color, tender meat, and mellow taste. It is fat but not greasy. Make sure you try the authentic roast duck when you tour Beijing. >> Find the Best Peking Roasted Duck Restaurants in Beijing
Recommended tour to taste Beijing roast duck and other famous dishes: 7-day Gourmet Food Tour to China
3. Sichuan hot pot (四川火锅 sìchuān huǒguō)
A representative dish of Sichuan and Chongqing, Sichuan hot pot is famous for its hemp, spicy, fresh and fragrant taste, and popular throughout China. Inside the big pot, you can find all kinds of food materials – meat, mutton, vegetable, fish fillets, mashed shrimp, duck blood, ox tripe, pig brain, duck intestines…
You may also interested in: Top 10 Most Popular Chinese Hot Pot
4. Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁gōngbǎo jīdīng)
A traditional Chinese dish that is popular in Sichuan, Shandong, Beijing and Guizhou, Kung Pao Chicken uses chicken as the main ingredient and is cooked with peanuts, chilies and other auxiliary materials. Kung Pao Chicken is one of the 10 classic dishes of both Sichuan cuisine and Guizhou cuisine.
5. Dumping (饺子jiǎo zi)
Dumpling or jizozi is an ancient Chinese cooked wheaten food with a history of more than 1,800 years. It was a tradition to eat dumpling during Spring Festival and Winter Solstice Festival, yet dumpling now has become breakfast, night snack, lunch and even dinner. It is a must-have when you travel to China. According to your own taste, you can choose steamed dumping, boiled dumping or pan fried dumping.
Recommended 16-day China Culinary Tour to make dumpling yourself at a local family’s home
6. Lion head (Braised pork ball in brown sauce, 狮子头shī zi tóu)
Braised pork ball in brown sauce, also called Four Happiness Meatballs, is a famous dish of Huaiyang cuisine of eastern China. Fat and lean meat mixed with water chestnuts, mushrooms and other materials, is made into large balls, first deep fried and then simmered over a low heat in a casserole. At last cover the meatballs with a thick brown sauce – it tastes so delicious.
7. Shredded pork with garlic sauce (fish flavored pork slices, 鱼香肉丝 yúxiāng ròusī)
Another famous dish of Sichuan cuisine, it is made by frying pork tenderloin with pickled chili, ginger, garlic, sugar and vinegar. It was created by a Sichuan chef and is said to be inspired by pickled chili pork. You may wonder why how can it be a “fish dish” since it has nothing to do with fish. In fact it is so named because it borrows the ingredients and recipes that people in Sichuan use to cook fish. Try it on your food tour of China if you love pork.
8. Stewed pork with brown sauce (红烧肉 hóng shāo ròu)
Streaky pork is famous for its rich and delicious taste and widely used for gourmet foods in Asia, while stewed pork with brown sauce is one of the most popular dishes. In China, each major Chinese cuisine has its own special braised pork in brown sauce - there are as many as twenty or thirty cooking methods for this dish.
9. Mapo tofu (stewed beancurd with minced pork in pepper sauce, 麻婆豆腐 má pó dòu fǔ)
It is also a popular Chinese dish in Sichuan that you should not miss if you travel to Sichuan. Sichuan cuisine is known for its hot and spicy flavor, and mapo tofu is the classic of classics. In less than 200 years of history, it has quickly become popular, both in Chinese restaurants and in families who love Chinese food. It tastes hot, spicy, fresh, fragrant, tender and crisp.
For foodies who love this dish, you may take our 15-day China Cooking & Foodie Tour to visit Sichuan Cuisine Museum in Chengdu and learn how to make Mapo tofu.
10. Eggplant cooked in red sauce (红烧茄子 hóngshāo qiézǐ)
It is one of the most popular Chinese dishes among foreign travelers. The main ingredients are eggplant, minced pork, chili, garlic, broad bean paste and coriander. This dish can also cooked into a vegetarian dish if removing the minced pork.
You may be interested in: the Most Popular Vegetarian Dish in China
11. Steamed fish head with diced hot red peppers (剁椒鱼头 duò jiāo yú tóu)
It is a classic dish of Hunan cuisine, and highly recommended for people love spicy food and fish. Usually bighead carp head, chopped pepper are used as the main material in this dish, and steamed with soy sauce, ginger, onion, garlic and other seasonings. The dish is red in color, rich in flavor and tender in texture.
12. Wonton (馄饨 hún tun)
There are many kinds of wontons in China, featuring different ingredients, stuffing (usually minced pork or diced shrimp) and making methods. Wonton is definitely one of the most popular Chinese breakfasts.
If you plan a culinary journey to China to taste wonton, we recommend Longchaoshou restaurant in Chengdu, three-fresh wonton in Shanghai and small version of wonton in Huanghan.
13. Chow Mein (stir-fried noodles炒面)
Chow mein is a traditional Chinese dish popular all over the country. The main ingredients are noodles, eggs, shredded pork, small rape, green onion, etc. It tastes delicious and is rich in nutrition.
Guangzhou, Luohe, Anqing, Wuhu, Liaoning, Chaoshan and Shandong are famous for their local flavor stir-fried noodles.
Similar to stir-fried noodles, Chinese people also love stir-fried rice nooldes and stir-fried rice.
14. Stir-fried shelled shrimps (清炒虾仁 qīngchǎo xiārén)
Although there are many ways for Chinese people to eat shrimp, stir-fried shelled shrimps is without doubt the most popular. For foreigners in China, they usually prefer fried shrimp with cashew nuts (腰果虾仁 yāoguǒ xiārén), fried shrimp with broccoli (西兰花炒虾仁 xīlánhuā xiārén), fried shrimp with celery (西芹炒虾仁 xī qín xiārén) and fried shrimp with scrambled egg (滑蛋虾仁 huá dàn xiārén)
We also recommend stir-fry srimp with Longjing Green Tea, a famous local dish of Hangzhou cuisine.
You may take 2-day Hangzhou Food Tour to learn this dish.
15. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes (番茄炒蛋 fān qié chǎo dàn)
It is a common dish in many ordinary Chinese families, a classic of the classics and very popular among foreigners in China. It is easy to cook yet nutrient-rich. If you are a vegetarian but you can eat egg, or you are traveling with children, this dish is a smart choice!
16. Guilin Rice Noodles (桂林米粉 guì lín mǐ fěn)
Guilin rice noodles have been produced since the Qin Dynasty, that is to say, Guilin people have been eating rice noodles for two thousand two hundred years. Today Guilin rice noodles are popular throughout China, but only in Guilin, the place of origin of this dish, you can eat the authentic Guilin Rice Noodles.