One of the most fun parts of traveling to China is definitely the amazing varieties of food you can eat! While we'll have a buffet breakfast at the hotel each morning, for lunch and dinner we'll experience more than 10 different types of Chinese cuisine from the various regions of China.
Chinese food is eaten family style, which means that unlike typical western food, each person is not given a plate of their own food to eat. Instead, all food dishes at each restaurant will be brought to the center of the table and shared by all trip participants. You can feel free to eat as much or as little as you want, and be as adventurous (or not) as you like! You won't go hungry at meal time, but if you like snacks in between meal times, feel free to bring or purchase food/drinks as you like. Go here to see the FAQ about meals and food on this trip. See below for descriptions of the different types of food we'll eat.
Known locally in Chinese as "benbang cai", Shanghai cuisine is characterized by dishes that taste fresh, clear, mellow, sweet or subtly spicy. Some of the more well-known dishes are hairy crab, beggar's chicken, drunken chicken, lion's head meatball, braised pork, and sweet and sour spare ribs. There are also some amazing snacks such as soup dumplings and yangchun noodles.
In the southern part of China, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Burma, is the province of Yunnan. Dishes from this part of China are known for featuring a variety of different mushrooms, as well as other plants and vegetables. Famous dishes include "crossing the bridge" noodles, wild mushrooms, rice noodles, steam pot chicken, roasted rice cakes, and cheese made from cow's or goat's milk.
Baozi (shengjian mantou)
A type of dumpling with a crunchy bottom, soft body, and pork/shrimp/vegetable soup combination on the inside, the type of baozi called "shengjian mantou" is a staple of the Shanghainese diet, and is absolutely delicious! Add a side of beef curry soup to complement the baozi and you'll be a very happy person after this meal.
Famous for it's liberal use of garlic, chili peppers, and the unique flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn, Sichuan cuisine is known throughout the world for its bold flavors. Some common Sichuan dishes include dandan mian (noodles), huiguorou (double-cooked pork), kung-pao chicken, and fuqi feipian (sliced beef).
Due to the large number of emigrants from the Guangdong area in China, Cantonese cuisine plays an extremely prominent role in Chinese cuisine overseas. In fact, the majority of Chinese food eaten in the USA can be described as Cantonese food. Dim sum is one of the more famous styles of Cantonese cuisine. Famous dishes include sweet and sour pork, rice noodle roll, wonton noodles, pork buns, roast goose, and duck. Cantonese desserts include flavors/ingredients such as black sesame, red bean, egg custard, and shaved ice.
As the capital of China, Beijing cuisine has been influenced heavily by food from other parts of China, but there are definitely some specific items that are famous in Beijing - the most famous one being Peking duck. Other well-known dishes include stir-fried tomatoes and scrambled eggs, dumplings, noodles (zhajiangmian), stuffed fried panckes (jianbing), and many more.
Hot pot consists of a simmering pot of flavored stock in the middle of the table, and is accompanied by a variety of raw meats, vegetables, noodles, seafood, and other items that cook quickly in the pot, and are then ready to eat accompanied by a flavored sauce that you create yourself at the sauce bar.
Located in the far upper northwest corner of China, the Xinjiang region has their own distinct way of life, culture, and food. We'll enjoy a traditional singing/dancing performance at a Xinjiang restaurant while feasting on specialties such as lagman (meat and vegetables over noodles), dapanji (chicken and potatoes), kebab (lamb, beef, chicken), and polu (rice dish).
Just to the north of Shanghai, the capital of Jiangsu province is called Nanjing, an area known for delectable treats, often accompanied by soup, and often with exquisite presentation. Some of the more well-known dishes include steamed dumplings, duck blood soup, sesame pancakes, hairy crab, and a variety of seafood from the nearby ocean waters.
Hailing from the landlocked province of Shaanxi is a type of cuisine best known for noodles as well as lamb/mutton dishes. The food has a reputation for having a heavy taste and a strong flavor. At a local Shaanxi restaurant we'll taste such items as biangbiang noodles, roujiamo (a hamburger-type food filled with pork or lamb), and lamb soup.
Famous for its liberal use of chili peppers, garlic, and shallots, Hunan cuisine is hot and spicy! But don't worry if you don't like hot or spicy food, as there's plenty of other types of food you can try. Some well known dishes include beer duck, dry-wok chicken, Mao's braised pork, spare ribs steamed in bamboo, and pumpkin cake.