Beyond Chinese Cuisine: What Else Do Chinese Eat?

Chinese cuisine is well-known throughout the world for its delectable dishes ranging from dumplings to Peking duck. However, traditional Chinese cuisine is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chinese food culture. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the diverse culinary delights of China and uncover the variety of food Chinese people enjoy daily. We’ll take a closer look at the many traditional and regional Chinese dishes, as well as international dishes that have become a favorite among locals. You’ll be surprised by the incredible variety of Chinese food beyond the usual Chinese takeout.

A big question we’ll answer is “what food do Chinese people eat besides Chinese food?” While many Chinese dishes have become global favorites, there’s so much more to explore, from lesser-known regional Chinese dishes to popular fusion creations. You’ll come to appreciate the depth of Chinese food culture, which is steeped in tradition and history.

Chinese Regional Delights

Chinese cuisine is a diverse culinary landscape, with each region boasting its own distinct flavors and specialties. From the bold and spicy dishes of Sichuan to the rice and seafood-centric cuisine of Guangdong, there’s something for every palate in China.

One of the best ways to experience regional Chinese cuisine is by exploring the country’s vibrant street food scene. Chinese street food is a feast for the senses, with a dizzying array of flavors and aromas to discover. Some popular street food dishes include:

Dish Region Description
jianbing Beijing A savory crepe filled with egg, herbs, and a variety of toppings like crispy fried wonton, sliced ham, or pickled vegetables.
roujiamo Shaanxi A sandwich-like snack consisting of chopped pork belly stuffed into a warm, doughy bun.
xiaolongbao Shanghai A type of steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables and piping hot soup inside.

When it comes to Chinese snacks, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Popular snacks include crispy fried wontons, pork jerky, and tangyuan- sweet glutinous rice balls filled with sesame, peanut, or red bean paste.

No meal in China would be complete without satisfying your sweet tooth with some Chinese desserts. From simple fruit plates to elaborate pastries, there’s a dessert for every occasion. Some popular Chinese desserts include:

Dessert Region Description
mooncakes Nationwide A pastry filled with sweetened lotus seed paste or red bean paste, representing the traditional festival of Mid-Autumn Day.
mango sticky rice Guangdong/Yunnan A Thai-inspired dessert consisting of sliced ripe mango served with sticky rice drizzled with sweet coconut cream.
snowflake ice Taiwan A refreshing and light dessert made with shaved ice and topped with fresh fruit, condensed milk, and various syrups.

Chinese Hot Pot and Noodles

If you’re looking for a unique and interactive dining experience, Chinese hot pot is a must-try. This traditional dish involves a communal pot of simmering broth, where diners cook various meats, seafood, and vegetables to their liking. The result is a delicious and satisfying meal that is perfect for chilly weather or special occasions.

In addition to hot pot, Chinese cuisine is known for its wide variety of noodles. From thin and delicate egg noodles to chewy and spicy dan dan noodles, there is a noodle dish for every taste preference. Popular hot pot additions like beef, lamb, and tofu can also be found in noodle dishes, making them a filling and flavorful option.

Noodle Dish Region Description
Chow Mein Northern China Stir-fried egg noodles with vegetables and meat or seafood.
Dan Dan Noodles Sichuan Province Spicy, peanut-based sauce with minced pork and scallions served over noodles.
Beef Noodle Soup Taiwan Rich broth with tender beef, pickled vegetables, and herbs served over wheat noodles.
Zha Jiang Mian Beijing Thick and chewy noodles served with a savory soybean sauce and minced pork.

Whether you’re in the mood for a flavorful hot pot or a comforting bowl of noodles, Chinese cuisine has something to satisfy your cravings.

Dim Sum and Tea Culture

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, dim sum is one of the most popular dishes. These bite-sized delights are typically served in traditional bamboo steamers and offer a wide range of delicious options, including steamed buns, dumplings, and savory pastries. Dim sum is often consumed during breakfast or lunch and is typically enjoyed with Chinese tea, which is an integral part of Chinese food culture.

The Chinese tea ceremony is a carefully orchestrated art form, steeped in tradition and history. The ceremony begins with the preparation of the tea leaves, which are meticulously washed and brewed in a clay teapot. The tea is then poured into small cups and offered to guests as a sign of hospitality and respect. The subtle flavors and fragrances of the tea are designed to complement the taste of the dim sum, making it a truly unique dining experience.

If you’re planning a trip to China, be sure to indulge in this culinary and cultural treat. Whether you’re trying dim sum for the first time or simply savoring its delicate flavors, this dish is not to be missed. And with its close connection to the Chinese tea ceremony, it’s an experience that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich food and cultural traditions of China.

Fusion Cuisine and International Influences

While traditional Chinese dishes remain integral to Chinese cuisine, it has also evolved over time to incorporate various international flavors, resulting in the creation of fusion recipes. This has opened up a world of new and exciting tastes for food enthusiasts.

The fusion cuisine in China combines Chinese and other global flavors to create unique and exciting recipes that reflect the country’s cultural diversity. Influenced by a variety of culinary traditions, fusion dishes showcase a blend of techniques, ingredients, and cultures.

Some of the popular fusion recipes in China include Chinese-style pizzas, sushi rolls with Chinese fillings, and tacos with Chinese fillings.

Global Food

“Fusion cuisine not only represents food, but also represents cultures and ideas.”

– Martin Yan

Asian Cuisine in China

Asian cuisine has always had an influential role in Chinese cooking, particularly in the southern regions of China. With the proximity to Southeast Asia, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Singaporean foods enjoyed great popularity in China.

Asian Cuisine Popular Dishes
Thai Cuisine Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai, Green Curry
Vietnamese Cuisine Pho, Spring Rolls, Banh Mi
Malaysian Cuisine Nasi Lemak, Satay, Hainanese Chicken Rice
Singaporean Cuisine Chilli Crab, Laksa, Hainanese Chicken Rice

Asian cuisine has significantly influenced Chinese cuisine, leading to the creation of several fusion dishes popular among food lovers in China.

In the next section, we will explore the traditional dishes from other cultures in China that have been adapted to suit the Chinese palate and become favorites among locals.

Traditional Chinese Dishes from Other Cultures

Although traditional Chinese cuisine is highly celebrated, Chinese people also savor dishes adapted from other cultures. Western and Southeast Asian cuisine have especially influenced the Chinese palate, creating unique flavors and adaptations that have become beloved and more commonly served in restaurants. Here are some popular dishes that have been integrated into China’s diverse culinary scene:

Italian Pizza with a Chinese Twist

Italian pizza has made its way to China, but it comes with a unique twist. Chinese pizza toppings may include unusual ingredients, such as Chinese sausages, corn, spicy chicken, or even peaches! The pizza crust can range from traditional thin crust to thick deep dish, but it’s always enjoyed with chopsticks instead of a fork and knife.

Indonesian Satay Chicken Skewers

Indonesian cuisine has a significant presence in China, and one of the most popular dishes is satay chicken skewers. Marinated in a blend of spices such as garlic, coriander, and turmeric, the juicy grilled chicken skewers are usually served with a side of peanut sauce or spicy sambal.

Japanese Sushi & Ramen

Japanese cuisine has become increasingly popular in China, and sushi and ramen shops are now common sights in many cities and towns. From classic sushi rolls to unique fusion creations, sushi is enjoyed by Chinese people of all ages. Ramen, the savory noodle soup dish, has also become a favorite among locals, with different regions having their own twist on the traditional Japanese recipe.

Thai Tom Yum Soup

As China has established closer ties with Southeast Asian countries, Thai cuisine has made an appearance in Chinese cities. The spicy and sour Tom Yum soup, made with flavorful ingredients like lemongrass, shrimp, and mushrooms, has become a favorite among the Chinese people and a highly recommended dish to try.

Mexican Tacos with Chinese Fillings

Chinese people have also given Mexican cuisine their own twist, filling tacos and burritos with Chinese-style stir-fried vegetables, meat, and sauces. Although the Chinese version may not be as authentic as the Mexican original, it offers a unique fusion of flavors and ingredients.

Chinese Breakfast and Snacks

Experience an authentic Chinese breakfast like a local, where you can start your day with an array of delicious dishes. Congee, a rice porridge, is a popular option, and can be mixed with savory ingredients like pork, egg, and vegetables. Juicy buns, or baozi, are another crowd-pleaser, steamed to perfection with fillings like meat, vegetables, or sweet bean paste. (Don’t forget to try their sumptuous dumplings too!)

Throughout the day, Chinese people turn to delectable snacks that come in a stunning variety. Sample the steamed rice cakes or Bánh rán, sesame balls filled with sweetened bean paste and deep-fried. There is also the popular roasted chestnuts or 落栗 that create a warm, homely feeling. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, try the century egg (preserved egg) or duck tongue as these are staple Chinese snacks too.

Chinese Beverages and Tea-Based Drinks

Chinese people have an abundance of refreshing and healthy beverages to choose from, including a variety of tea-based drinks. Chinese tea culture is deeply rooted in tradition and has gradually evolved over time to include other popular beverages like coffee and fruit juices.

Some popular tea-based drinks in China include:

Beverage Description
Herbal Teas Blends of different herbs used for medicinal benefits and health maintenance.
Fruit Teas Teas infused with various fruits or fruit extracts to provide a fruity, natural flavor.
Milk Teas Teas mixed with milk and sugar, providing a rich and creamy texture and taste.

The Chinese tea ceremony is an integral part of Chinese culture that emphasizes the art of tea-making and tea appreciation. This traditional practice involves meticulous preparation and presentation of tea, highlighting its taste and aroma.

Experience Chinese tea culture and taste these refreshing tea-based beverages during your next visit to China!

Popular Chinese Fusion Dishes

Chinese cuisine has gained worldwide recognition, and its fusion with other cuisines has created unique and innovative dishes. Chinese fusion cuisine combines traditional Chinese flavors with Western or other Asian ingredients to create new, exciting recipes. Some of the popular Chinese fusion dishes include:

Dish Description
Kung Pao Chicken Tacos Mexican-inspired dish with Chinese spice and sauce
Chow Mein Pizza American-style pizza topped with Chinese-style stir-fried noodles
Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders Pork sliders with Chinese-style sweet and sour sauce
Mapo Tofu Lasagne Italian dish with Chinese-style spicy tofu and Sichuan peppercorn sauce

One of the most famous Chinese fusion dishes is Chinese-American cuisine, which emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Chinese immigrants adapted their cuisine to suit the American palate, creating dishes such as fortune cookies, chop suey, and egg foo young.

Nowadays, Chinese fusion dishes can be found all over the world, from Chinese-Thai fusion to Chinese-Japanese fusion and beyond. These dishes reflect the dynamic and diverse nature of Chinese cuisine and its ability to adapt to various cultural influences.


Chinese food culture is incredibly diverse and extensive, extending beyond the traditional Chinese dishes that we all know and love. Exploring the cuisine beyond the iconic dishes allows one to discover the rich history and varying influences that shape Chinese cuisine.

From regional specialties to fusion creations and international influences, the Chinese dining experience offers a remarkable variety. Chinese people savor both the traditional Chinese dishes and the international dishes that have been adapted to suit the Chinese palate.

By delving into the vast world of Chinese cuisine, one can truly appreciate the unique flavors, textures, and aromas that are present in every dish. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply curious, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Chinese food culture.

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