The Traditional Chinese food, with its long history, unique characteristics, many styles and refinement, is an important part of Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese dishes are famous for their colors, aromas, tastes, meaning and appearance.
These Chinese foods are available in most major restaurants in China. To make it easy for you to find them, we will also give you their names in Chinese characters. Read our experts’ introductions, accompanied by mouth-watering photos.
1. Imperial Chicken
Imperial chicken (宫保鸡丁), or Kung Pao chicken, is a famous specialty of Sichuan cuisine, very popular with Chinese and foreigners. The main ingredients are diced chicken, dried chili and fried peanuts.
There is a western variant of Imperial Chicken, in which the diced chicken is covered with cornstarch, and served with vegetables, sweet and sour sauce and garlic puree.
2. Tofu Ma Po
Ma Po tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of the most famous Chinese foods in Chuan cuisine, with a history of over 100 years. The character Ma (麻) describes a spicy and pungent taste that comes from pepper powder, a type of condiment usually used in Chuan cuisine.
The milky tofu is enriched with chopped beef and green onions. It is really a delicious dish.
3. Peking Duck
Beijing Peking Duck (北京烤鸭) is a famous Chinese food from the Chinese capital, enjoying worldwide fame and considered one of the Chinese national dishes.
Peking duck is appreciated for its thin and crispy skin. Sliced Peking duck is often eaten with pancakes, sweet bean sauce or soybeans with garlic puree. It is a must-try dish in Beijing!
4. Braised pork meatballs in sauce
Braised pork dumplings in sauce (四喜丸子 sì xǐ wánzi) are also known as “Chinese meatballs” because many customers call them that. If you like meatballs and spaghetti, you will most likely enjoy Chinese meatballs as well. The sauce is very smooth and fragrant and is like a “drug” as your taste buds will always want more. How many calories are there in this dish? Believe me, you won’t even notice!
Tip: We suggest you order this dish only in decent restaurants where the quality of meat is guaranteed and the prescribed lean to fat ratio of 7: 3 is achieved in each meatball.
5. Sichuan pork
Sichuan pork is a famous Chinese food of Sichuan cuisine. It is spicy poached pork slices ((水煮肉片 shuǐzhǔ ròupiàn).
Cooking pork by pan-frying or deep-frying consumes a lot of oil, so it is easy to overcook the meat. So instead, the pork is boiled in water with a coating made of egg white and starch to preserve its freshness and tenderness.
6. Shrimp with vermicelli and garlic
Shrimp with vermicelli and garlic (蒜蓉粉丝蒸虾 suànróng fěnsī zhēng xiā) is a Chinese food not only appreciated by foreigners but also by the younger generation of Chinese in recent years.
This steamed dish brings out the aroma of all the ingredients in it. The strong taste of garlic with seafood sauce is perfectly combined with the freshness of juicy shrimp. The vermicelli underneath absorbs every drop of the tasty juice. Finally, the secret of the delicacy of this dish lies in the Chinese yellow wine that captures the aroma and enhances the flavor of this dish.
7. 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.
Originally, this dish was only made with pork, but to meet the demand, pork can be replaced with other ingredients such as chicken or beef.
8. Hotpot – Chinese fondue
Hotpot (火锅 huǒguō) is a “dish” that distinguishes true fans of Chinese cuisine. If you enjoy hotpot much more than fried rice, chow mein and dim sum, then you are a true fan of Chinese food!
The secret of whether a hotpot is good or not lies in the broth in which all the meat and vegetables are cooked. Generally speaking, you can choose the flavor of your broth: mushroom-flavored broth, tomato-flavored broth, authentic-flavored broth or spicy broth. However, the flavor can be different depending on the choice of sauce that accompanies the meat. There are hundreds of types of hotpot. One of the classics is peanut butter with crushed garlic and chopped onion seasoned with sesame oil.
9. Fried shrimps with cashew nuts
Fried shrimp with cashew nuts (腰果虾仁 yāoguǒ xiārén) is another popular dish among foreigners in China. Everything is said in its name. You can taste the delicate peeled shrimp and crispy cashew nuts. The shrimp are always very tender and juicy. They are also easy to handle. If you’re traveling with children, this is both a nutritional and wise choice!
10. Wontons (Hundun)
Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it has been a Chinese custom to eat wontons (馄饨), or hunduns, on the winter solstice.
Wontons are most often triangle-shaped, similar to the Italian tortellini. They are usually boiled and served in soup or sometimes fried. The filling of the wontons may be ground pork or diced shrimp
With a long history of over 1800 years, ravioli is a traditional Chinese food that is very popular in northern China. Ravioli (饺子) consists of chopped meat and vegetables wrapped in a thin piece of dough.
The most popular fillings are ground pork, diced shrimp, ground chicken, beef and vegetables. They can be boiled, steamed or fried. Ravioli is a traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve dish.
12. Fried noodles
Fried noodles (炒面), or “chow mein” in Cantonese pronunciation, is a popular dish. Generally speaking, this dish includes noodles, meat (usually chicken, beef or pork), onions and celery.
To make stir-fried noodles, the noodles must be cooked in boiling water for a long time. After they have cooled down, they are then sautéed in oil.
13. Yangchow fried rice
Yangchow fried rice (扬州炒饭 Yángzhōu chǎofàn) is a classic fried rice dish that you must try if you travel to Yangzhou. It is in this city where chefs prepare the best fried rice dish. Thus, this dish has been distinguished from thousands of other types of fried rice in China and got its own name.
The basic ingredients of this tasty Yangchow dish are peeled shrimps, diced ham, carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, beaten eggs and corn. When all these ingredients have been cooked and their flavors have been brought out, they are pan-fried with rice until the dish gets a golden yellow color.
14. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls (春卷) are Cantonese dim sum in a cylindrical shape. They can be filled with vegetables or meat, and the flavor can be sweet or salty.
Once the filling is packed into the spring rolls, they are deep fried, which gives the spring rolls their golden yellow color.
15. Steamed vermicelli rolls
Steamed vermicelli rolls (肠粉 chángfěn) are certainly among the must-have dimsun dishes. Not only are they an expert choice in Guangzhou’s tea shops, during morning tea in restaurants, and in night markets filled with street food, but they are also a breakfast treat for many people in middle-class restaurants in China.
White sheets of rice starch are filled with various ingredients. The most popular ones are beef/pork, shrimp and even oyster, as well as mushrooms, eggs, lettuce, watercress etc. The rolls are steamed until the flavors blend together. Then they are seasoned with peanut oil, soy sauce, chili sauce or sesame paste according to personal preference.