03 Jun Top 10 Chinese street foods
Street food is an important part of Chinese eating culture. Sometimes hidden away in narrow streets, street food can be an efficient and delicious method to fight your hunger, as well as being a delight to your tastebuds. Ever wondered what you are actually eating or what the little cart on your street corner is selling? Have a look at 10 of China’s famous street foods!
Yangrou Chuan’r 羊肉串儿
Possibly one of Xinjiang’s best known exports is its food, and Chuan’r is a staple. Xinjiang is China’s far north-western province and home to the Uyghur population. Many Uyghurs have migrated to major cities all around China and many have set up portable BBQs selling Chuan’r, Lamb kebabs cooked over coals and spiced with cumin seed and chilli.
Xiao Long Bao 小笼包
Xiao Long Bao is definitely one of China’s favourite street snacks. They are small steamed buns filled with pork. When made, the pork filling is refrigerated to stay solid but once steamed all the amazing juices melt inside the pastry. Whatever you do, don’t stab them with your chop sticks! You will be letting the best part (the soup) go to waste. Originally from Shanghai, they can be found all over China. If you are dining in, they are generally served in a bamboo steam basket but smaller places will sell them to take away. Remember to eat them with black vinegar (醋 cu) and chilli in oil (辣椒 lajiao). The most famous place that services these is near Shanghai’s Yuyuan Gardens, Nan Xiang 南翔.
Guotie means pot sticker in Chinese, and these dumplings are named after the method of cooking. The pan has to be extremely hot or you will end up with just a pork ball and no pastry. They are cooked on a big iron pan in shallow oil and although not as easily found as Chuan’r, they can be found in pretty much every city.
京东肉饼 Jingdong Roubing
Jingdong Roubing is a northern dish and can be served in many different forms. Most commonly it comes as a wrap with alternate layers of pork, onion and pastry and fried on both sides.
Xinjiang Nut Cake 新疆切糕
If you see a Uyghur riding a tri-cycle don’t laugh, he is just selling this. A cake made from a mixture of nuts, it is Xinjiang’s version of a giant muesli bar. Ask them and they will cut some off for you, but make sure they cut where you say or they may over charge heavily and if you don’t pay, may show you their knife. Not the cheapest street eat, but they look beautiful and are delicious and filling.
Egg Roll 煎饼
Many describe it as China’s version to the French crepe, this street snack starts off in pancake form but ends up looking more like a kebab. Street vendors cook a thin layer of pancake mix on a large round hot plate, and then crack an egg onto it. Then comes the chili/ bean paste, spring onions, coriander and finally a crispy bit of pastry. It is then folded into an easy to carry wrap. Perfect street food.
Baozi are fluffy buns generally filled with pork, although are sometimes filled with just veggies. Look out for the huge steam baskets cooking these little ones. They are ridiculously cheap and will fill you up before you know it.
Portuguese Egg Tarts or Danta 蛋挞
Not a traditional Chinese food but Southern China has adopted this street snack from the Portuguese, who introduced the sweet egg tart after acquiring the trading port of Macau. Danta are best when fresh out the oven. Although I hate to say it, but the ones served in KFC aren’t too bad either.
Chinese Shwarma 肉夹馍 or 肉加莫
Cooked exactly like Arabic shwarma but the Chinese cooks prefer pork of course (definitely not Arabic). Once the meat is cut, it is mixed with spices, lettuce and served it in a bun. Quality varies a lot with these but when you get a good one, it’s amazing!
Chou doufu 臭豆腐
You will know you have found it when you smell it, you might still be a hundred meters away but it will still hit you in the face. Chou Doufu literally means stinky tofu, and it’s a Chinese favourite. The tofu used is first fermented in brine and then deep fried which unleashes an attack on all the senses. Definitely not for everyone, but kudos to those who try it, and I have to say it doesn’t taste as bad as it smells.