You’ve decided it’s time to take that trip of a lifetime to China. Between the ancient history, natural beauty, and bustling cities, you know you’re in for an amazing experience. But one of the things you’re most excited about is the food. Moreover, China is home to one of the world’s oldest and most diverse cuisines. From sweet and sour fish to kung pao chicken to steamed dumplings, your taste buds are about to embark on an epic adventure.
The only question is where to begin. With so many restaurants across China, it can be hard to know which ones you absolutely can’t miss. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. So, we’ve compiled a list of the best restaurants in China to discover the country’s culinary delights. Whether you want to splurge on an upscale meal or grab some street food, we have options for every budget and craving. Get ready to dig in! Your delicious discovery of China awaits.
The Allure of Chinese Cuisine: Regional Flavors and Styles
Chinese cuisine is renowned for its diversity of flavors, aromas, and presentations. Each region has developed its distinct style over centuries.
In the North, wheat-based staples like dumplings, buns, and noodles dominate, with hearty dishes emphasizing garlic and chili peppers to balance the cold. Peking duck, a delicacy of crisp roasted duck and pancakes, originates from Beijing.
Moreover, Shanghainese cuisine features lightly sauced dishes like crab shell yellow and lion’s head meatballs. Suzhou is acclaimed for its sweet and savory dishes like squirrel fish.
Sichuan and Hunan cuisines from the West are famously spicy and bold. Kung pao chicken, twice-cooked pork, and hot pot are popular. Rice and chili peppers are essential.
The South values sweetness and freshness. Cantonese dim sum, with dumplings and pastries, reflects Guangdong’s location on the Silk Road. So, fresh seafood and produce feature in dishes with minimal seasoning to preserve natural flavors.
No trip to China is complete without experiencing its stunning array of cuisines. With a long history and rich diversity, there are endless culinary adventures to be had. However, whether you prefer the hearty North, the fresh East, the spicy West, or the sweet South, a delicious meal awaits around every corner. Dig in and discover the flavors of China!
Must-Try Restaurants in Beijing: Imperial Cuisine and Local Specialties
If you want to taste the essence of Beijing, dine at one of these historic restaurants featuring imperial cuisine and local specialties.
Operating since 1926, Fangshan is renowned for Peking duck with crispy skin and succulent meat. Watch as chefs skillfully slice the duck tableside and wrap it in thin pancakes with hoisin sauce and veggies. However, they also offer a variety of traditional dishes like sautéed shrimp with chili sauce and Kung Pao chicken.
Located within a restored hutong, Capital M blends modern style with traditional Beijing fare. Share plates of dumplings, like pork and chive dumplings in chili oil, and seafood dumplings in crab broth. So, for heartier fare, try the braised pork belly, stir-fried lamb with cumin, or Peking duck. They have an excellent wine list highlighting Chinese wines.
Family Li Imperial Cuisine
For a taste of cuisine once served to emperors, visit Family Li. Established in 1368, they serve artistic dishes like sautéed shrimp with dragon fruit, braised sea cucumber, and stewed pork knuckles with dates. So, a Peking duck feast includes duck liver, heart, and web, in addition to the prized meat and crispy skin. The historic courtyard setting transports you to ancient China.
From Peking duck to dumplings to delicacies once fit for royalty, Beijing offers a dazzling array of culinary wonders. However, at these time-honored restaurants, you’ll discover quintessential Chinese cuisine in settings as memorable as the meals. Bon appetit!
Shanghai’s Cosmopolitan Restaurant Scene: Haute Cuisine to Street Food
Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant food scene ranging from upscale fine dining to casual street eats. You’ll find restaurants representing cuisines from all over China and the world.
High-End Haute Cuisine
For a special occasion, visit a luxury restaurant like T8, known for creative molecular gastronomy, or Fu He Hui, featuring lavish banquets and Peking duck. At Ultraviolet, diners are served a 20-course meal while immersed in a multi-sensory experience with visuals, sounds, and scents changing with each dish. So, these upscale eateries provide a refined introduction to China’s regional cuisines using the freshest, highest-quality ingredients.
Casual yet Chic
For an elegant yet relaxed meal, check out restaurants like Da Dong, which specializes in succulent roast duck and dumplings, or Lost Heaven, known for spicy Yunnan cuisine and craft cocktails. Moreover, at Xibo or Ding Tai Fung, you can sample delicate dumplings, buns, and noodle dishes in a stylish space. These mid-range spots combine gourmet fare with a hip, contemporary vibe.
Affordable Comfort Food
If you want to eat like a local without breaking the bank, head to the Old Street of Shanghai. Here you’ll find mom-and-pop restaurants serving homestyle classics, as well as food stands peddling popular street snacks like dumplings (jiaozi), fried rice cakes (ci fan tuan), and scallion pancakes (cong you bing). For hand-pulled noodles, check out Lao Sichuan. At Yang’s Dumplings, you can get a plate of soup dumplings (xiao long bao) for around USD 1.
Shanghai’s diverse culinary landscape has something for every taste and budget. Whether you’re in the mood for an elaborate tasting menu or a simple bowl of noodles, you’re sure to find a memorable meal. Bon appetit!
Culinary Gems in Chengdu: The Best of Sichuan Cuisine
Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan province and the epicenter of Sichuan cuisine. Some of the top restaurants to experience the bold flavors of Sichuan cooking are:
Yu’s Family Kitchen
This laid-back but upscale restaurant is known for its authentic Sichuan fare and impressive wine list. Some signature dishes to try include Kung Pao Chicken, Twice Cooked Pork, and Yu Xiang Beef. However, the ingredients are high quality and full of chili spice and the distinctive Sichuan peppercorn zing. With flawless service and stylish decor, Yu’s Family Kitchen is a must for any foodie visiting Chengdu.
Chongqing Zhongshizhai Hot Pot
For a classic Chengdu hot pot experience, head to Chongqing Zhongshizhai Hot Pot. This popular hot pot chain originated in Chongqing but now has locations throughout Sichuan. So, choose from a variety of broths, meats, seafood, veggies, and Sichuan specialties to cook in the bubbling pots at your table. So, the “spicy broth” packs some heat while the mushroom broth provides a milder base for ingredients. Additionally, an affordable, interactive, and delicious meal perfect for groups.
Ba Guo Bu Yi
Ba Guo Bu Yi specializes in baozi, or Chinese steamed buns. These fluffy white buns come in a variety of fillings, from ground pork and chives to red bean paste. The buns are meticulously wrapped and cooked to perfection, delivering a cloud-like exterior and a burst of flavor with each bite. Baguio Buyi also offers classic Sichuan dishes and homemade noodles to round out your meal. It’s a simple, no-frills restaurant but the food is superb and the prices can’t be beat.
Exploring the local cuisine is the best way to understand the culture and heartbeat of this city. With spicy flavors, fresh ingredients, and a dash of Sichuan zest, restaurante chino en hialeah will leave your taste buds tingling and longing to return.
Hong Kong’s Eclectic Dining Scene: From Dim Sum to Michelin Stars
Hong Kong is a culinary paradise, with a vibrant dining scene that reflects its cultural diversity. From casual dim sum to white tablecloth fine dining, Hong Kong offers something for every taste and budget.
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without indulging in dim sum, which are small bite-sized portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Head to Lin Heung Tea House, an iconic dim sum restaurant that’s been operating since the 1920s. So, witness dim sum masters pushing carts laden with har gow (shrimp dumplings), cha siu bao (barbecued pork buns), and Cheung fun (rice noodle rolls). For a more upscale dim sum experience, check out two-Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan.
As a historic trading port, Hong Kong has long been exposed to cuisines from around the world. You’ll find excellent Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Western fare. However, for Indians, head to Gaylord for fragrant curries and naan in an elegant setting. Or try Tung Po Seafood Restaurant for fresh seafood and a raucous, casual ambiance.
Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. So, at three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation, avant-garde chef Alvin Leung reinvents traditional Cantonese fare with molecular gastronomy techniques.
So there you have it, some of the top restaurants in China to experience the diversity of Chinese cuisine. From family-style hot pots in Chengdu to elegant seafood fare in Hong Kong, your taste buds will be delighted around every corner. The variety of flavors and cooking techniques are sure to surprise and satisfy. Moreover, now the only question is, which restaurant will you try first? With this list in hand, you’re all set to embark on your culinary adventure in China. The delicious memories you’ll make dining at these world-class restaurants will last long after your trip comes to an end. Happy eating and bon appetit!
What Are the Top Restaurants in China?
China is a culinary haven, with a wide range of top-notch restaurants to satisfy every taste bud. From the vibrant streets of Beijing to the bustling city of Shanghai, the country boasts an array of gastronomic delights. For those seeking traditional Chinese cuisine, the iconic Peking Duck at Quanjude in Beijing is a must-try. For a taste of modern fusion, Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai offers a unique dining experience, combining food, technology, and multisensory storytelling.
Meanwhile, for seafood lovers, the renowned Xihe Yayuan in Guangzhou is known for its exquisite Cantonese seafood dishes. Lastly, if you find yourself in Chengdu, make sure to visit the legendary Chen Mapo Tofu for a fiery and flavorful Sichuanese feast. With these culinary gems, China truly showcases its culinary prowess.
Where Are the Best Places to Eat in Beijing?
When it comes to finding the best places to eat in Beijing, the options are seemingly endless. From traditional street food stalls to upscale fine dining restaurants, the city offers a culinary experience that caters to all tastes. Indulge in mouthwatering Peking duck at the renowned Da Dong Roast Duck, savor the flavors of traditional Beijing cuisine at the historic Quanjude Restaurant, or explore the bustling Wangfujing Snack Street for a taste of local street food delights. No matter where you choose to dine, Beijing’s vibrant food scene is sure to leave you craving for more.
What Is the Food Like in Shanghai?
Shanghai, a vibrant and bustling city, is a food lover’s paradise. With a rich culinary heritage and a mix of traditional Chinese flavors and international influences, the food scene in Shanghai is diverse and exciting. From mouthwatering dim sum and savory soup dumplings to fragrant noodle dishes and succulent Peking duck, Shanghai offers a plethora of options to satisfy any palate. The city is also known for its street food culture, where you can indulge in delectable treats such as crispy scallion pancakes, tangy stinky tofu, and juicy sheng jian bao. Whether you’re exploring the local eateries or dining in high-end restaurants, the food in Shanghai promises to take you on a gastronomic adventure you won’t soon forget.