All the countries in the world have one thing in common: delicious food. From India to Brazil, food is something that is unique to each country that all travelers can enjoy. Specifically in China, I have noticed that many foreigners (including myself) always order the same dishes. In this post I have provided some new dishes that you can try instead of some of the typical dishes most foreigners order in China.
1. Instead of包子 bao1zi or Steamed Buns you should try:叉烧包 cha1shao1bao1 BBQ Pork Filled Bun.
Baozi is a typical snack food that you can find on almost every street in Shanghai. But instead of seeking out your regular steamed bun, you should try the BBQ bun. It’s a delicious bun filled with pork that is cooked in a sticky, sweet BBQ sauce. If you like the doughy goodness of baozi but want to try a new filling, then you will love the BBQ bun. You can find BBQ buns at most Dim Sum restaurants or certain Chinese bakeries.
2. Instead of 西红柿炒鸡蛋 xi1hong2shi4 chao3ji1dan4 Tomato Scrambled Eggs you should try: 茉莉花炒鸡蛋 mo4lihua1 chao3ji1dan4 Jasmine Scrambled Eggs.
Tomato scrambled eggs and Jasmine scrambled eggs are both great egg dishes. The jasmine eggs are similar to tomato eggs except it does have a more airy and light taste thanks to the jasmine. You can typically get tomato eggs all over China, but you can normally only find jasmine eggs in Yunnan or in a Yunnan restaurant since it’s native to that region.
3. Instead of宫保鸡丁 gong1bao3ji1ding1 Kung Pao Chicken you should try: 香酥鸡 xiang1su1ji1 Smashed Chicken。
Almost all foreigners have heard of Kung Pao Chicken from Chinese restaurants in their home countries, so once they come to China it becomes one of their staple foods. If you want a similar chicken dish but want more of that chicken (we all know that Kung Pao chicken comes with minimal chicken pieces and an absurd amount of peanuts) you should try smashed chicken. This dish is a whole chicken that has meat so tender that it falls right off the bone. In addition to some finger-licking good meat, the skin on the chicken is super crispy with a honey glaze, giving it a nice crunch.
4. Instead of麻婆豆腐 ma1po1dou4fu3 Stir-fried Tofu in Chili Sauce you should try: 日本豆腐 ri4ben3dou4fu3 Japanese Tofu.
Unless you are in Sichuan province or at a Sichuan restaurant, tofu in chili Sauce is a great dish on its own; spicy and flavorful and usually with bits of meat mixed in. However if you want a dish that is purposely not very spicy, you need to have Japanese tofu. This is tofu with a crispy skin on the outside with a yummy soft interior. The tofu is coated in a delicious sweet and sour sauce and is mixed with green and red peppers. Japanese tofu is a vegetarian’s dream come true!
5. Instead of鱼香肉丝 yu2xiang1rou4si1 “Fish Flavored” Shredded Pork you should try: 铁板牛柳 tie3ban3niu2liu3 Sizzling Beef.
Sometimes “fish flavored” shredded pork can get boring for foreigners to eat because many Chinese dishes are pork based. However if you want the convenience of not having any bones in your meal and having a beef dish, sizzling beef is the dish for you. Sizzling beef is served piping hot on a skillet much like the way Mexican fajitas are served. The beef is usually cut into thin slices and is cooked with onions and green peppers in a light black pepper sauce.
6. Instead 饺子 jiao3zi Dumplings you should try: 肉夹馍 rou4jia1mou2 Chopped Meat Sammies。
What if I were to tell you that China has something similar to a pulled pork sandwich but less messy and more convenient? Yes it exists, and it is called肉夹馍 (roujiamou) in Chinese. In a classic sandwich, the pork has been stewed for hours in a broth containing around 20 spices and seasoning. The pork is sliced up and mixed with chopped coriander and cucumber. Foreigners in China adore how quick and easy they can grab dumplings from their favorite street vendor. Now with Chopped Meat Sammies you can get all the convenience of dumplings in a sandwich form.
7. Instead of 干煸四季豆 gan1bian1 si4ji4dou4 Sichuan-style Green Beans you should try: 刀豆炒土豆 dao1dou4 chao3 tu3dou4 Thick Cut Potatoes and Sword Beans.
I have to admit, Sichuan-style green beans is my favorite dish in China, but whenever I need to change things up thick cut potatoes and sword beans are the next best thing. Here the potatoes are cut up in long strips like home-style fries and tossed with the beans in a special combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce and garlic. If you really enjoy the green beans in the Sichuan-style dish then the sword beans with thick cut potatoes will certainly meet your expectations.
8. Instead of土豆丝 tu3dou4si1 Shredded Potatoes you should try: 山药骨头汤 shan1yao4 gu3tou2tang1 Chinese Yam Bone Soup。
How many expats do you know have had 山药 (Chinese yam)? Chinese yam bone soup is a delicious soup made of Chinese yams and a pork broth. The broth is usually prepared by boiling all parts of the pig in a pot and then yams, scallion, ginger, and dates are added to give it a great flavor. Chinese yam bone soup is a great substitute for all the potatoes in the over-ordered shredded potatoes.
9. Instead of地三鲜 di4san1xiang3 Stir-fried Potato, Eggplant, and Peppers you should try: 蚝油芥蓝 hao2you2gai4lan2 Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce.
All foreigners are excited to come to China and eat a plethora of vegetable dishes, especially a dish like stir-fried potato, eggplant, and peppers. However, if you like the sauce in this dish you will love Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce. Chinese broccoli is a leafy green vegetable that is served in a yummy oyster sauce and garlic combination. If you are craving a softer vegetable but are tired of eggplant this is the perfect dish for you.
10. Instead of鱼丸汤yu2wan2tang1 Fish Ball Soup you should try: 酸菜鱼 suan1cai4yu2 Sliced Fish with Pickled Cabbage。
If you enjoy the fishy taste of fish ball soup but are not too crazy about the texture, sliced fish with picked cabbage is the soup for you. Both dishes are soup based; however, the sliced fish in the second dish is very tender and actually looks like fish! The dish has a hint of spice thanks to the added chilies, and has a great pickle taste to it from the cabbage. This soup is perfect on a cold day in China.
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