The Taste and Smell of China

Taking a break from all the German bratwurst and lebkuchen, today we have a guest post from Agness over at eTramping to tell us about her favourite Chinese dishes! (Warning: don’t read this post on an empty stomach!)

Chinese cuisine is unparalleled in it’s variety and everyone can find something they’d like to call their favourite dish. No wonder – Chinese cuisine is nearly 5000 years old and to certain degree magic unknown in Western world. For many, if not all, travellers to China, the culinary journey is as important as the discovering the historical heritage and natural beauty of the country.

Let me introduce you to five dishes that you simply have to try when visiting.

Fried noodles with veggies

Chow Mein (炒面)

Chow Mein is probably the most popular dish among foreign visitors in China. It’s simple, nutritious, available nearly everywhere, and quite importantly – easy to order. The main feature of this dish are the golden coloured thick noodle and meat. The latter may be pork, chicken, beef or who knows what else, while the first owes it’s colour to the process of deep frying (although cooked options are sometimes available). The aroma of this dish is enchanting and people who try it once tend to come back for more.

Price: 5 – 10 Yuan


Spicy Tofu (Mapo doufu) (麻婆豆腐)

For those more adventurous, or with a lesser sense of smell, I’d recommend to try Chinese Spicy Tofu. Chinese people don’t seem to understand when someone says that they don’t like it, but foreigners are typically divided into those who love it and those who hate it. It tastes great and there was time during my stay in Hunan when I couldn’t go a day without tofu. Nevertheless, if someone doesn’t like it, they will still have to put up with an ever-present smell of fried tofu on streets of Chinese cities. The strength of the aroma is hard to imagine.


Spring Rolls (春卷)

Quite a different treat than in Vietnam, from where most people believe this dish originates. Local vendors all over the country (and it’s a big one) are selling their spring rolls from three-wheel bicycles transformed into moving kitchens. Their spring rolls are deep-fried and then, if you like, spread with spicy sauce (very spicy). Inside, there are usually two varieties – noodles or potatoes, accompanied by some meat or vegetables. It’s a quick snack on the go, but it’s size makes it easy to fill someone up with just one or two.

Price: 2-3 yuan


Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi) (饺子)

Half-moon shaped delicacies of the land of the dragon. Not only will you fall in love with them, but also find that it’s hard to find two restaurants that serve the same ones. Filled with meat and veggies, they are either boiled, steamed or fried. You may even find them in soup. While the variety is hard to comprehend, you will struggle to find one that you don’t like.


Roasted Duck (烤鸭)

Crispy skin and not so much meat, but boy are they delicious! Served whole, half or in small bits, don’t be surprised to find it’s head on your plate. Especially if you’re hosted by Chinese family, as it is perceived as one of the bet parts of the duck. If you have China-town in your city, you sure will find these hanging in the shop window for display. While I’m sure it all tastes better in China where it comes from, if you can’t travel to this beautiful country at least have some roasted duck in your own city.

Sticky rice wrapped in a leaf

If you would like to read more about China, you can check out our new ebook Add the Brick to the Great Wall: Experience-based Advice for China from Expats which sums up our two-year experience in the Land of Dragons, and serves as a guide for anyone interested in working, teaching, living and / or travelling in China.


If you tried Chinese cuisine before, what else would you recommend?

Agness is a Polish travel blogger who has been travelling and living in different Asian countries since 2011. She is well known for travelling the world for less than $25 per day and she shares her tricks and tips with the readers of her blog called Moreover, she is a food lover obsessed with Chinese cuisine, yoga passionate, life enthusiast and photography freak.



  1. December 7, 2013 / 2:12 am

    Ha, ha this looks strangely familiar, Agness!! You already know what a dumpling freak I am and that I LOVE duck! Throw in a big bowl of that chow mein and I will be set!

    • Michelle
      December 15, 2013 / 10:00 pm

      Yea, dumplings are SOO good! 😛

  2. December 7, 2013 / 1:59 pm

    Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to contribute. Chinese food is one of the best things to experience in the Land of Dragons. It offers a great variety of noodles, dumplings, fresh fruits and veggies. Everyone can find something nice and tasty!

    • Michelle
      December 15, 2013 / 10:01 pm

      Any time Agness! 🙂 And yes, agreed! There’s so many varieties when it comes to Chinese food (the similarity being that they’re all delicious!)

  3. December 9, 2013 / 11:59 am

    Spicy tofu is my favourite Asian food but when I try to recreate it at home it never seems to taste as good! 🙂

    • Michelle
      December 15, 2013 / 10:02 pm

      There must be a secret ingredient they use! 😛

  4. December 10, 2013 / 4:31 am

    All these food photos are making me hungry again! haha

    • Michelle
      December 15, 2013 / 10:04 pm

      Haha it’s ok for me because I’m always hungry! 😀

  5. December 15, 2013 / 3:31 pm

    Everything looks so delicious I was getting hungry! Chow Mein is my absolute favorite. But then I saw the roasted whole ducks, with their eyes open, and I lost my appetite. I’m sure they are delicious but I would have to eat them with my eyes closed 😉

    • Michelle
      December 15, 2013 / 10:03 pm

      Haha yea I prefer my meat to not resemble animals, or else I’d have to go vegetarian! 😛

  6. April 12, 2014 / 4:55 pm

    Looks good. As the saying goes, Chinese eat almost everything in the World 🙂

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