Chinese Food for Travelers: A Guide for the Western Palate

Beijing boasts more than 30,000 restaurants in the metropolitan area. What can a traveler expect when it comes to Chinese food? China’s cuisine offerings provide temptations for those with a light stomach to those who will try anything‚Ķonce. has identified some menu choices for those traveling to China, along with a cheat sheat for those not looking for suprises.


According to, some of the culinary offerings in Beijing may seem unexpected or unusual to the Western palate. For the adventurous traveler, they might enjoy sampling some of these true Chinese delicacies.

* Giant steamed dumpling filled with soup (type of soup varies, usually a kind of mutton or beef stock and often loaded with MSG)
* Hot pot (usually served in a ying yang shape bowl with half spicy, and half seafood based soup)
* Freshly-made tofu
* Fresh water chestnuts on a stick
* Steamed buns
* Cup of tea (green or black)
* Ludagun (a rolled pastry made of soy bean flour)

* Roast duck (sometimes served complete with head, wings and feet)
* Raw sea urchin
* Donkey meat stew
* Duck bone soup
* Braised sea cucumber
* Stinky Tofu [Chou Dofu] (only the authentic versions are truly stinky)
* Braised Chicken Feet
* Fat Head Fish Soup [Peng Tou Yu Tang]

TOP 10 SURVIVOR DISHES has created the following cheat sheet for the timid diner.

1. Gung Bao ji Ding: Kung Pao chicken done the right way. Spicy, lots of peanuts, chicken squares, carrots, and usually another vegetable
2. Di San Xian: Mild eggplant with potato, onions and brown sauce (can be a little heavy for summer)
3. Yu Xiang Xiezi: Eggplant in fish sauce with carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables. Popular with Westerners. Ask for Yu Xian Ro Si if you want it made with spicy pork strips instead of eggplant.
4. Baozi: Steamed dumplings. Usually available for breakfast everywhere. Look for large steaming bamboo vats in the early morning.
5. Xi Hong Shi Chao Dan: Tomato with Scrambled eggs. While this sounds like a breakfast dish to a Westerner, it is served at any time. The tomato sauce makes it slightly sweet. Popular with Westerners.
6. Chao Mian Pian: Xinjiang joint fried noodle dish. Close as you can get to home-style Italian pasta.
7. Suan La Tu Do si: Sweet and Sour Potato strips.
8. Qing Chao Xi Lan Hua: Broccoli with garlic sauce.
9. La Mian: Fried noodles (when you are tired of experimenting)
10. Ba si xiang jiao: Warm battered banana with sweet syrup. Take a piece and dip into the water provided, watch it solidify, and then eat. Unusual and flavorful.

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