Find out what Chinese dishes to try in China (customer favorites): sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken, fried noodles… See expert intros with pictures.
With a long history, unique features, numerous styles and exquisite cooking, Chinese cuisine is one important constituent part of Chinese culture. Chinese traditional dishes are famous for color, aroma, taste, meaning and appearance.
The following are the 8 most popular dishes among foreigners and Chinese. These dishes are available in most large restaurants in China. For customers’ convenience, we also list their Chinese character names.
1. Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and sour pork (糖醋里脊) has a bright orange-red color, and a delicious sweet and sour taste.
At the very beginning there was only sweet and sour pork, but to meet demands, there have been some developments on this dish. Now, the pork can be substituted by other ingredients like chicken, beef or pork ribs. See How to Cook Sweet and Sour Pork.
2. Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁) is a famous Sichuan-style specialty, popular with both Chinese and foreigners. The major ingredients are diced chicken, dried chili, and fried peanuts.
People in Western countries have created a Western-style gong bao chicken, for which the diced chicken is covered with cornstarch, and vegetables, sweet and sour sauce and mashed garlic are added. See How to Cook Kung Pao Chicken.
3. Ma Po Tofu
Ma po tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of the most famous dishes in Chuan Cuisine with a history of more than 100 years. Ma (麻) describes a spicy and hot taste which comes from pepper powder, one kind of condiment usually used in Chuan Cuisine.
The milky tofu is enriched with brownish red ground beef and chopped green onion. It is really a tasty delicacy. See recipes for mapo tofu.
Since the Tang Dynasty (618–907), it has been a custom for people to eat wontons (馄饨) on the winter solstice.
The most versatile shape of a wonton is simple a right triangle, similar to Italian tortellini. Wontons are commonly boiled and served in soup or sometimes deep-fried. The filling of wontons can be minced pork or diced shrimp.
With a long history of more than 1,800 years, dumplings are a traditional food widely popular in North China. Dumplings (饺子) consist of minced meat and chopped vegetables wrapped into a thin piece of dough skin.
Popular fillings are mince pork, diced shrimp, ground chicken, beef, and vegetables. They can be cooked by boiling, steaming, or frying. Dumplings are a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. See How to Make Chinese Dumplings.
6. Chow Mein
The “Chow mein” (炒面) is the Cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese characters above, which means stir-fried noodles. Generally speaking, this stir-fried dish consists of noodles, meat (usually chicken, beef, shrimp, or pork), onions and celery.
For making chow mein, the noodles need to be cooked in boiling water for a while. After they becoming cool, then move to the step of stir-frying. See How to Cook Chow Mein.
7. Peking Roasted Duck
Peking duck (北京烤鸭) is a famous dish from Beijing, enjoying world fame, and considered as one of China’s national dishes.
Peking duck is savored for its thin and crispy skin. The Sliced Peking duck is often eaten with pancakes, sweet bean sauce, or soy with mashed garlic. It is a must-taste dish in Beijing! Read more about Peking Roasted Duck.
8. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls (春卷) are a Cantonese dim sum of cylindrical shape. The filling of spring rolls could be vegetables or meat, and the taste could be either sweet or savory.
After fillings are wrapped in spring roll wrappers, the next step is frying. Then the spring rolls are given their golden yellow color.
It is a dish especially popular in Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, etc. Read more about Spring Rolls.