Without a doubt, China is one of the most adventurous countries in Asia when it comes to eating street food on the cheap. Numerous dishes boast some pretty crazy-sounding ingredients, some of which you would never consider edible. Some dishes look really disgusting but taste amazing so you should never judge Chinese food by its look. When you come to China, be adventurous! Don’t limit yourself to eating only baozi, fruits and veggies, along with plain rice. Leave your food comfort zone and keep experimenting with different dishes; from stinky tofu to grilled snake meat, you’ll be surprised by what tickles your tastebuds.
Here are my top 20 Chinese street foods you simply can't afford to miss when in China:
Baozi. These are traditional Chinese dumplings. They are often steamed or fried and filled with a great voice of meat, such as pork or beef, and veggies that include - but are not limited to - steamed peas, sweetcorn, chives and chopped carrot. Baozi are served with soy-based sauce, chilli, vinegar and sesame oil. Cheap, filling and tasty!
Jiaozi. Jiaozi are also Chinese dumplings, but they are crescent-shaped and are much smaller than baozi. They are usually filled with various types of minced stuffing and steamed, and are then served boiled or fried.
Snake. Snake meat is a delicacy that is served mainly in the Guilin area, so if you make it to Li River and nearby Yangshuo, you definitely shouldn't miss it. It's a very delicious, soft dish that tastes like perfectly grilled fish. It is mainly served with deep fried veggies.
Snails and Beer. The snails, which too are a very famous dish in Guilin, are usually served in shell and taste similar to minced beef. They are cooked in beer and served with a bottle of beer as well. This dish is very spicy, so prepare yourself before digging in!
Duck and Chicken Feet. These may sound particularly offputting, but they are extremely delicious, not to mention convenient to pack for your train ride. They are very spicy, and are served as a beer snack, usually deep fried then steamed before being stewed.
Stinky Tofu. Stinky tofu - or chòu dòufu as it is known locally - is a form of fermented tofu that has a strong odour. It's a snack that is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands, and is often served as a side dish. Stinky it may be called, but delicious it certainly is!
Grilled Chicks. This vacuum-packed snack is often eaten in local trains and buses, or anywhere where you may need a quick, tasty snack on the go. They are generally salt-baked or grilled, and you can almost always choose spicy or mild, if the whole idea of eating grilled chicks doesn't disgust you!
You Tiao. This is a very common breakfast in China, which is simply a deep fried bread stick made of dough and served hot as an accompaniment to rice congee or soy milk. A great way to start the day!
Baked Sweet Potatoes. This is a great snack option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. They are baked in a huge barrel in the street, and are extremely soft and dry so make sure you get them with soy milk or tea.
Fried Noodles or Rice. Fried rice with vegetables and bean curd is a very common street food made by locals. The rice is served in bowls with meat and vegetables as toppings. Adding some bean curd - processed from soybeans - will make it taste even better.
Beef Noodle Soup. Beef noodle soup is a noodle soup made of stewed or red braised beef, beef broth, vegetables and Chinese noodles. Always delicious and always warm, this is a great pick-me-up any time of the day, particularly if it's a chilly one.
Bubble Tea. Bubble tea is a sweetly flavoured tea drink that usually contains a tea base mixed with fruit or fruit syrup and/or milk. Ice blended versions of the drink are also available, usually in fruit flavours. Bubble teas all usually have small tapioca balls or pearls called "boba" resting at the bottom. Extremely delicious and refreshing, and beautiful too!
Pancakes. Thin flat Bǐng pancakes can be found in Chinese cuisine. They can be either savory or sweet, and are generally made with dough rather than batter.
Sugarcane. This is great as a sweet snack. The juice is obtained by crushing peeled sugar cane in a mill, usually served cold, and sometimes with other ingredients such as a squeeze of lemon or lime. Sweet and refreshing!
BBQ Meat. Chinese BBQ pork or char siu is a famous Chinese dish where meat is marinated in honey hoisin sauce and roasted to charred, with a savory and sticky sweet flavour. The meat tastes the best with a pint of beer!
About the Authors Agness Walewinder and Cez Krol are best friends and travel companions from Poland. They share budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been doing just that while teaching English in different Asian countries including China, Thailand and Cambodia. They are both photography passionate and obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture. Read more about Agness and Cez and their tips for cheap adventures at http://etramping.com.
About the Authors
Agness Walewinder and Cez Krol are best friends and travel companions from Poland. They share budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been doing just that while teaching English in different Asian countries including China, Thailand and Cambodia. They are both photography passionate and obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture. Read more about Agness and Cez and their tips for cheap adventures at http://etramping.com.