24 delicious foods you should eat in China

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Zha jiang mian features traditional Chinese noodles and stir-fried pork.
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wEnDy / Flickr

China is a large country that’s home to many rich, flavorful dishes.

Although there are staples that can be found throughout the country, the cuisine varies greatly from region to region.

For example, Shanghai boasts xiao long bao (soup dumplings), while Beijing has Peking duck.

Keep scrolling for 24 delicious dishes to try on your next trip to China.


To make cong you bing — the Chinese version of a savory pancake — chopped scallions are folded into delicious flatbread.

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Flickr / Garrett Ziegler

The combination of tender duck meat and crispy skin makes Peking duck one of China’s tastiest dishes. If you’re looking for the authentic experience, eat your duck wrapped in a pancake with scallions, cucumbers, and hoisin sauce. The dish is from Beijing.

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Flickr / Alpha

Yu xiang rou si features shredded pork doused in hot garlic sauce with sauteed vegetables such as mushrooms and peppers. The dish originated in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

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Gary Stevens / Flickr

Named after Su Dongpo, a well known poet, statesman, and painter from China’s Hangzhou region, Dongpo pork is pork belly that’s pan-fried and braised. The thick-cut pork is both fat and lean meat.

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kattebelletje / Flickr

If you’re looking for something spicy, try la zi ji, a dish from the Sichuan province. Fried pieces of chicken breast are paired with peppercorn, chili, and sesame, making for a flavorful dish that will have your mouth on fire.

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Flickr/powerplantop

Although the sweetness of osmanthus lotus root makes it taste like candy, lotus root is actually a vegetable. For this dish, the lotus root is covered in a sweet red sauce, filled with glutinous rice, and paired with a tiny bit of osmanthus plant. It’s served as street snack in Shanghai and is also found in the city of Hangzhou.

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Matthew Stinson / Flickr

The Chinese version of a burger, iou jia mo is pulled or shredded meat (commonly pork) stuffed into a doughy flatbread bun. The street food originally comes from the Shaanxi province, but can now be found pretty much everywhere in the country.

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Wally Gobetz / Flickr

Xiao long bao are Shanghai’s version of dumplings. Filled with either pork or crab meat along with a savory broth, these soup dumplings are best eaten by first biting the corner, letting the broth run onto your spoon, and then eating the dumpling and slurping the broth.

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Calvin / Flickr

Fermented soy bean paste doesn’t exactly sound appetizing, but it’s tasty in the noodle dish known as zha jiang mian, which features traditional Chinese noodles and stir-fried pork. The preparation of the dish varies from region to region.

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wEnDy / Flickr

Despite its name, beggar’s chicken is a relatively elaborate dish from the country’s Jiangsu province. A whole chicken is stuffed with pork and mushrooms, wrapped in a lotus leaf, and then baked in clay. In order to eat the chicken, diners have to crack the clay with a hammer.

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kattebelletje / Flickr

Starting off as a common noodle dish served on the streets of the Sichuan province, dan dan mein is a warm bowl of long, thin noodles swimming in chile oil and topped with minced pork and pickled vegetables.

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Steven G Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

The pork bun (char siu bao) comes from the Cantonese region in China. Pieces of pork seasoned in a sweet barbecue sauce are stuffed inside soft steamed buns.

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Adamlee01 / Shutterstock

Although it may seem odd to mix tofu with pork, that’s exactly what ma po tofu does. In this spicy dish from the Sichuan province, the tofu and pork are bathed in chile oil and vegetarian broth that’s been infused with peppercorns.

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Jessica and Lon Binder / Flickr

Dragon beard candy is not only a Chinese dessert, but also a handmade traditional art of the country. Resembling a white cocoon, dragon beard candy is made mainly from sugar and maltose syrup, along with peanuts, sesame seeds, and coconut.

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Flickr / bionicgrrrl

A cross between rice porridge and soup, congee is prepared by cooking grains in water, which then creates a kind of thick soup. Congee can be served with everything from chicken to pork to small fried donuts for dipping.

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Connie Ma / Flickr

Known as the Chinese cruller or doughnut, you tiao are long strips of golden deep-fried dough. The snack is often eaten with congee and can be found on the street throughout most of the country.

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Brian Jeffery Beggerly / Flickr

Century eggs are a delicacy in China that originated in the Hunan province. As the name suggests, quail, duck, or chicken eggs are preserved in a mix of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for multiple weeks or months, a process that changes the smell, color, and flavor of the egg.

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Chin, Singapore / Flickr

Shumai — another kind of dumpling — are easily recognizable with their curled up edges. The dumplings are from the Guangdong province and can be filled with anything from shrimp to crab to pork to various vegetables. They’re typically served at dim sum.

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John Liu / Flickr

Gan bian si ji dou, or dry fried string beans, has a lot more kick than your average side of green beans. The Sichuan-style string beans are broiled — giving them a crispy texture — and then tossed in peppercorns, scallions, garlic, ginger, and mustard root.

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SimonQ錫濛譙 / Flickr

Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province, is the best place to try Liang Pi, a cold noodle dish packed with many different flavors and served with various vegetables and proteins. The long, wide noodles are made from wheat or rice flour.

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Celia M / Flickr

Found all over the country, zongzi are little pockets made from bamboo leaves and filled with glutinous sticky rice that’s paired with either a sweet or savory filling.

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Jessica and Lon Binder / Flickr

If sweet and sour pork (tang cu li ji) is done the right way, the pork should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The meat is served in a sauce that’s both sweet and sour making for a unique combination of flavors.

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J B / Flickr

Known as pot stickers in English, guo tie are a sort of cross between two common Chinese foods: dumpling and fried bun. The little pockets of dough can be filled with anything from shrimp to pork to beef, which is then paired with cabbage, ginger, and onion.

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Gary Stevens / Flickr

Despite its not-so-appetizing name, stinky tofu (chou dofu) is a staple street food in Shanghai. The odor comes from the fact that the tofu is soaked in fermented milk, vegetables or meat; it can be served deep fried, steamed, braised, barbecued, or stewed.

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Cameron Yee / Flickr