China is and has always been, an intriguing destination for multiple reasons. Whether it’s the interesting culture, the millennia of history, or the country’s booming megacities, China continues to capture people’s imagination and attract visitors far and wide. But one of the main reasons why many go to China is to experience authentic local cuisine. And Chinese cuisine is as complex and diverse as the many provinces and principalities that make it up. In this article, we’re going to give you an extensive tour of some of the country’s best food cities and a few things you should try while you’re there.
If you want to ease your way into Chinese cuisine, you could consider starting with Hong Kong. While Hong Kong does have its unique food culture, the food is closer to Cantonese cuisine. This is a great place to start since this is what many people are accustomed to when they think about Chinese cuisine out in the West. You’ll also get a chance to taste some of the best dim sum on the planet and a wide selection of great seafood too. And with Hong Kong being such a cosmopolitan city, you’ll also have the chance to eat Korean, Japanese, and British inspired food as well.
But if you want to go to the true epicenter of Cantonese cuisine, you have to go to Guangzhou. Cantonese, in general, is recognized for its sweeter taste and its variety of cooking techniques. And it’s a well-respected culinary city among Chinese people as well. As a matter of fact, there’s a famous saying that says that you should “be born in Hangzhou, get married in Suzhou, eat in Guangzhou, and die in Liuzhou.” So, you know they must be doing something right. If you’re ever in the area, you absolutely have to try the roasted suckling pig and sliced boiled chicken, which are some of the top local specialties.
If you want to kick things up a notch and aren’t afraid of a little heat, then a stop by Chengdu is mandatory. Chengdu is one of the best places in China to taste authentic Sichuan cuisine, which is also one of the most well-known Chinese culinary styles around the world. Sichuan cuisine is known for its kick, complex tastes, and a mix of pungent and highly aromatic flavors. Must tries include the Sichuan hotpot, mapo tofu, and Kung Pao chicken.
A stop by the northwestern city of Xi’an is a must if you want to experience the full spectrum of Chinese cuisine. You’ll get the chance to taste exotic meat plates consisting of everything from goat, camel and even donkey meat. Food in Xi’an is very characteristic of northwestern cuisine and is very noodle heavy, with less emphasis on dumplings and buns.
A Few Words on Food Safety
When going for any culinary trip, it’s always essential that you take the proper precautions, and China is no exception. First of all, while the street food might be tempting, you should try not to overindulge and watch what and how much you eat on the street. For one, you should try to limit your consumption of deep-fried street food to a bare minimum. Vendors will often overuse the cooking oil, which will not only affect the quality but could lead to complications as well. If possible, try to stick to well-known establishments that are frequented by locals.
You should also familiarize yourself with the local healthcare system and look into different medical insurance types before you leave. Hospitals in China operate on a tier system, and you can access some of the world’s best healthcare facilities, as well as some that might not be recommended. Getting premium healthcare insurance before you leave will ensure that you get the best care possible at all times.
China is an absolute dream for any food lover and self-professed gourmet. Make sure that you explore the many nuances of the local cuisine and not be afraid to try something new if you want to get blown away.