popular foods from China street food vendors

Let’s go! 10 of the most popular foods from China 

1) Hot Pot

Hot pot is one of the most popular foods from China, and has been a staple of the country’s cuisine for centuries. It’s essentially a boiling pot of broth that’s placed right on the table and typically filled with a range of ingredients like vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, seafood, and meats.

Diners can choose their favourite ingredients to add to their hot pot and decide to add Sichuan peppercorns to make it spicy too. 

If you asked a local, “what’s the most popular food in China?” they’d probably list hot pot as a top contender.

Popular foods from China - Hot Pot
Traditional food in China – Hot Pot

2) Peking Duck

Peking duck is a traditional dish from Beijing, which dates back more than 600 years. The dish is served in thin slices of duck meat, with crispy skin, alongside scallions and sweet bean sauce for dipping. Many restaurants offer Peking Duck as an entire meal, including various pancakes, sauces and side dishes.

Peking duck is considered one of China’s most delicious foods. You must add this to your ‘Food China’ list of things to try.

popular foods from China Peking Duck traditional food in china
Popular foods from China – Peking Duck

3) Chow Mein

This China popular foods list must include Chow mein, a dish of stir-fried noodles, vegetables and meat, plus savoury sauces and spices. It’s believed to have originated in Northern China, although Chow mein is a much-loved dish throughout the country.

The most common ingredients in chow mein are egg noodles, lots of finely sliced vegetables, a protein such as tofu, shrimp, chicken or pork and of course the sauce that brings it all together. Like other popular foods from China, chow mein is cooked quickly in a wok on high heat. 

A good Chow Mein dish depends on a quality sauce. The key is the right balance of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and corn flour to thicken.

Foods from China - Chow Mein
Foods from China – Chow Mein

4) Bao or Baozi (Steamed Buns)

Bao or Baozi (also known as steamed buns) are a popular part of Chinese cuisine. They can also be found in all types of restaurants, family-run eateries, and convenience stores. Steamed buns can be plain or filled with various ingredients, the most popular being BBQ pork, minced pork and egg, pickled vegetables or even a sweet red bean paste.

Chinese steamed buns (baozi) are traditionally prepared in a xiaolong, a small bamboo steaming basket, hence the name.

They are usually enjoyed with a light soy dipping sauce and can be both sweet or savoury; it all depends on the filling inside the bao.

Foods China Steamed buns
Popular Foods China – Steamed buns

5) Dumplings

Dumplings, or jiaozi as they are known in China, have been a Chinese culinary staple since ancient times. Famous all over the country, these yummy foods from China are incredibly popular as a snack or a meal to suit any time of the day. 

The fillings for Chinese dumplings include both vegetarian and meat ingredients such as pork, shrimp, mushrooms, cabbage, tofu and more. These delicious morsels are usually served boiled or steamed and go great with a light soy sauce, or a blend of soy, vinegar and some crunchy chili sauce. 

popular foods from China Dumplings
Any traditional Chinese food menu will include dumplings

6) Dim Sum

Dim Sum is a traditional food of China. A feast consisting of many small plates or steaming baskets of dumplings and other snack dishes. The best part is that it’s entirely up to you as to what foods from China you’d like to indulge in your Dim Sum feast. 

Dim Sum is one of the foods from China that is much loved all over the country, and one of the most popular foods from China for sure. And yes, it’s one of the China foods that is often accompanied by tea. So commonly, Dim Sum is enjoyed during late morning or lunchtime.

Traditional food of China Dim sum
The traditional food of China – Dim sum

7) Char Sui (BBQ Pork)

Char Sui is a type of roast pork dish. First, pork is marinated in a sweet BBQ sauce and then roasted.

A good char siu recipe has an incredible depth of flavour—a sweet, sour & salty, tender taste with a tinge of spice complementing the pork. Best eaten with a bowl of steamed rice and blanched Chinese greens like bok choy or choy sum is ideal.

China foods Char Sui
China foods – Char Sui

8) Wonton Soup

Wontons are another type of delicate dumpling; however, the dough wrappers are much thinner. Wontons come in small parcels and can be prepared in many ways: steamed, deep-fried or in soup.

Ingredients for the filling inside wontons can be minced meat: chicken, beef, pork, minced shrimp, and cabbage. 

Popular foods from China- Wonton Soup
Popular foods from China- Wonton Soup

Check out GAdventures for some awesome group tours in China.

9) Jianbing

Jianbing is one of my favourite breakfast foods from China. Sold by street food vendors in the early morning hours, jianbing, also known as Chinese pancake is a thin and savoury crêpe stuffed with ingredients that marry together so well.

The secret to a good Jianbing is the fresh vegetables and the multiple elements that give it texture and crunch!

To prepare the Jianbing, the batter (wheat, mung bean or black bean) is spread very thinly over a round hotplate. Next, it’s topped with eggs, various sauces such as hoisin, chilli sauce, or a savoury bean paste (or all three), and then stuffed with components such as spring onions, fermented mustard pickles, radishes, and coriander. 

The vendor may offer to add in sausage or even a Chinese donut (I recommend you say yes to this ingredient), it works perfectly with the sweet/savoury sauce and the fresh herbs inside.

Foods from China - Jianbing (chinese pancake)
Foods from China – Jianbing (Chinese pancake)

10) Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)

Chinese soup dumplings or xiaolongbao are my personal favourite foods from China to consume at any time of day. Said to have originated in the Jiangnan region of China, they’re prevalent in Shanghai; and probably why soup dumplings are often referred to as “Shanghai Soup Dumplings.”

Xiaolongbao, also referred to as tangbao (often soup dumplings twice the size of Xiaolongbao) are steamed dumplings consisting of a paper-thin dough enveloping a seasoned pork filling and hot, delicious broth or soup. 

Some varieties include a filling of crab or prawn, too – but you just can’t beat the pork dumplings; the pork fat inside gives the soup an incredible depth of flavour.

Once steamed, enjoy your dumpling by cradling it in your spoon, first nibbling a hole in the dough to let the flavourful soup stream out. Sip this first, it’s wonderful – then enjoy the rest of your dumpling by dipping it in a mixture of Chinese black vinegar and soy, and roasted crushed chilli paste. Heaven!

Foods from China - Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)
Foods from China – Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings) are an important part of China food culture

Are there any foods from China to avoid?

The answer to this question is as challenging as answering the question “what’s the most popular food in China”? And, it also depends on who you ask.

I personally love to try many different foods when I travel to foreign countries, and my 7 Tips for how to find the best food when travelling are things I try to do in all places I visit. It helps me to avoid getting ill and it opens my eyes to new flavours and foods I’d have never tried otherwise.

But, if you’re wondering what are some weird Chinese foods, I’ve listed 10 of the most bizarre foods in China right here

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Tips for Travelling in China

If you’re travelling further in China, you may enjoy reading about where to eat in Pingyao, China, and check out some amazing small group trips in China by Wendy Wu Tours.

Be mindful of how to avoid these 6 common tourist scams in China. Unfortunately, scams are frequent in the country – but if you’re prepared, you’ll have a great trip!

There are so many incredible things to do in China, from tours to visit the Great Wall of China, exploring the Forbidden City, or being amazed at laying eyes on the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.

You may be interested in reading about the 9 weird drinks in the world that will surprise you or our Ultimate Food Map of Asia may give you some inspiration for which destination you should choose to travel to next.

It’s hard to answer the question of what’s the most popular food in China, as this country is huge. But, I hope that this list of the 10 most popular foods from China has given you a good place to begin to discover this fascinating cuisine.

And, if you’re a Chinese foodie or just love everything about this cuisine, I’d love to know what you’d add to my list of top China foods. Drop your suggestion in the comments below.