Best Chinese food: 32 must-try dishes

Estimated read time 5 min read


Chinese cuisine is renowned for its rich history, diverse flavors, and exquisite preparation techniques. With a vast array of regional specialties, navigating the world of Chinese food can be an exciting culinary journey. From the fiery spices of Sichuan to the delicate dim sum of Guangdong, each province contributes unique dishes to the tapestry of Chinese gastronomy. In this guide, we’ll explore 32 must-try Chinese dishes that showcase the country’s culinary prowess and cultural diversity.

  1. Peking Duck 
    • Originating from Beijing, Peking Duck is a crispy-skinned delicacy served with thin pancakes, hoisin sauce, and sliced scallions. The tender duck meat combined with the crunch of the skin makes it an iconic dish.
  2. Xiao Long Bao 
    • Hailing from Shanghai, these soup-filled dumplings are prized for their delicate skins and flavorful broth. Carefully bite into the dumpling to savor the burst of savory soup within.
  3. Kung Pao Chicken 
    • Sichuan cuisine’s masterpiece, Kung Pao Chicken, is a spicy and tangy dish featuring tender chicken, peanuts, and chili peppers. The perfect balance of heat and flavor is characteristic of Sichuanese cuisine.
  4. Hot Pot 
    • A communal dining experience, hot pot involves cooking thinly sliced meat, vegetables, and noodles in a simmering broth at the table. Various dipping sauces add a personal touch to this interactive meal.
  5. Dim Sum 
    • A Cantonese tradition, dim sum encompasses a variety of bite-sized delicacies such as dumplings, buns, and rolls. It’s often enjoyed with tea during brunch.
  6. Mapo Tofu 
    • Originating from Sichuan, Mapo Tofu features silky tofu in a spicy, numbing chili and bean-based sauce. The dish is named after a pockmarked (ma po) woman who supposedly created the flavorful concoction.
  7. Sweet and Sour Pork 
    • This iconic dish from Hunan balances sweet and tangy flavors with crispy fried pork. It’s a visually vibrant and delicious dish that showcases the diversity of Chinese culinary styles.
  8. Spring Rolls 
    • These crispy rolls, filled with vegetables, meat, or a combination of both, are a popular appetizer or snack. Fried to perfection, they offer a delightful crunch with every bite.
  9. Dan Dan Noodles 
    • A signature dish from Sichuan, Dan Dan Noodles features noodles topped with a spicy, savory sauce, minced meat, and crushed peanuts. The bold flavors make it a favorite among spice enthusiasts.
  10. Cantonese Roast Duck 
    • Crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, Cantonese Roast Duck is a delectable dish often enjoyed with plum sauce. The meticulous roasting process creates a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
  11. Shrimp Dumplings 
    • A dim sum classic, shrimp dumplings are known for their translucent wrappers, showcasing plump and juicy shrimp inside. The delicate flavor and texture make them a dim sum favorite.
  12. Braised Pork Belly 
    • A beloved dish in many regions, braised pork belly involves slow-cooking succulent pork in a savory soy-based sauce until it reaches a melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
  13. Ma La Xiang Guo 
    • A popular street food, Ma La Xiang Guo, involves choosing an assortment of raw ingredients, which are then stir-fried in a fragrant and spicy ma la (numbing and spicy) sauce.
  14. Scallion Pancakes 
    • These crispy and flaky pancakes, layered with scallions, are a delightful snack or side dish. The interplay of textures and flavors makes them a hit.
  15. Fish Fragrant Eggplant 
    • Despite its name, Fish Fragrant Eggplant contains no fish. Originating from Sichuan, this vegetarian dish features eggplant cooked in a flavorful sauce with garlic, ginger, and spicy bean paste.
  16. Yangzhou Fried Rice 
    • Hailing from Jiangsu, Yangzhou Fried Rice is a classic Chinese fried rice dish featuring a medley of ingredients such as shrimp, ham, and peas. Its balanced flavors and colorful presentation set it apart.
  17. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall 
    • A complex and luxurious Fujianese dish, Buddha Jumps Over the Wall is a soup featuring various premium ingredients such as abalone, shark fin, and sea cucumber.
  18. Stinky Tofu 
    • A polarizing dish, stinky tofu is fermented and deep-fried, resulting in a distinct aroma and robust flavor. It’s a popular street food in many Chinese cities.
  19. Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup 
    • Originating from Lanzhou, this noodle soup features hand-pulled noodles, tender beef slices, and a flavorful broth. It’s a comforting dish enjoyed throughout China.
  20. Zongzi 
    • Typically enjoyed during the Dragon Boat Festival, Zongzi is sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with a variety of ingredients such as meats, beans, and nuts.
  21. Fried Wontons 
    • Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, fried wontons are often served as appetizers or snacks. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as pork or shrimp.
  22. Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup
  23. A staple in Sichuan cuisine, Hot and Sour Soup is known for its bold flavors, featuring a balance of spiciness and tanginess. It typically contains tofu, mushrooms, and shredded meat.
  24. Dongpo Pork 
    • Named after the famous Song dynasty poet Su Dongpo, this dish involves braising pork belly until it is tender and flavorful. The resulting word is rich, savory, and melts in the mouth.
  25. Beggar’s Chicken 
    • A traditional dish with a fascinating cooking method, Beggar’s Chicken involves marinating a whole chicken, wrapping it in lotus leaves, and baking it until the flavors meld into a succulent masterpiece.
  26. Bok Choy with Garlic Sauce 
    • A simple yet

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