China has some of the most flavorful and diverse foods in the world! There are 8 well known traditional Chinese cuisines, but in fact there are actually way more types, which makes sense given China’s long history and diverse population.
It can be hard to know where to begin diving in to the Chinese food scene, but luckily if you have the right guide you’ll have a better idea of what dishes to try and where to start!
Lost Plate Food Tours
Lost Plate Food Tours invited me to join their new “Flavors of China” restaurant tour in Beijing on December 1, and I happily (and hungrily) accepted. Lost Plate Food Tours offers specialized food tours in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Xi’an with the goal of introducing you to local flavors and dishes you may have never tried before.
“Flavors of China” Tour
Lost Plate Food Tours has several tour options and just introduced a new tour: the “Flavors of China” tour. This Flavors of China tour allows you to try cuisines from all around China without having to leave Beijing!
Ruixi and Evon from Lost Plate Food Tours took us to four different restaurants in Beijing to sample these amazing cuisines:
- Xinjiang Cuisine 新疆菜
- Yunnan Cuisine 云南菜
- Beijing Cuisine 北京菜
- Sichuan Chuan Chuan 四川串串
If you’d like to watch my Instagram Stories about this tour to see these tasty dishes for yourself, check out my story highlight here! I share lots of my Chinese adventures on Instagram (@rachelmeetschina) and would love to connect with you there.
Now let’s get into the most important part: the food!
1. First Restaurant: Xinjiang Cuisine 新疆菜
Xinjiang cuisine is one of my favorites! Xinjiang is a far western province in China strongly influenced by the Silk Road route and Middle Eastern cultures. Because of the Muslim population, the food is largely halal and features lots of meats and bread dishes.
On the Menu:
- Big Plate Chicken
- Seasoned Naan
- Fried Mushrooms with Salt and Pepper
- BBQlamb and pepper skewers
- Wusu Beer
I haven’t traveled to Xinjiang yet, but it’s high on my China bucket list!
2. Second Restaurant: Yunnan Cuisine 云南菜
I visited Yunnan for the first time a few months ago and absolutely loved it. The food is quite different than most other Chinese cuisines, as it focuses more on freshness. You’ll find lots of vegetables like mushrooms and wild greens, as well as specialty dishes like cheese and Granny’s Potatoes (my favorite!)
- Pig Elbow Pancake
- Crossbridge rice noodle (Guoqiao 过桥米线)
- Kunming Fried Potato
- Fried Squash Leaves
- Sweet and Sour Lotus Root
- Homemade Plum Wine
Read more about my trips to Lijiang and Shangri-La!
3. Third Restaurant: Beijing Cuisine 北京菜
We jumped in a van together and drove into one of the many hutongs of Beijing to go to our next location. I looked around and realized we were in my hutong neighborhood! The amazing thing about the hutongs is that there are countless restaurants and local places hidden inside, and it takes some wandering (and local guides) to know where the best places are!
We went through an extremely narrow hutong alley and stumbled into a warm two story restaurant, decorated in the style of traditional Beijing. One Chinese man on our tour said it reminded him of his youth in Beijing in the 1980’s. We all expected to eat Peking duck at the Beijing restaurant, as its the most famous dish people associate with Beijing cuisine. To our surprise it wasn’t on the menu – we had a variety of old and new traditional Beijing dishes instead!
On the Menu:
- Big Pot Beef
- Specialty Frog
- Five Spice Deboned Pork
- Soy Sauce with Tofu
- Black Tofu Skin and Vegetables
- Local Beijing Soda: Beibingyang
I’ve lived in Beijing for a year and haven’t properly been to a local Beijing restaurant like this (terrible I know!) It was nice to be introduced to these dishes and learn more about the history behind the food. I highly recommend trying Beibingyang especially – a local Beijing soda you have to try while here!
Read more about my experiences in Beijing: Top Instagram Spots, my 7 Day Beijing Itinerary, and Which Section of the Great Wall Is Best To Visit?
Sichuan Chuan Chuan 四川串串
Our last stop is a classic Sichuan experience: hot pot! Usually you’ll order large platters of meats and vegetables to put into the spicy (or nonspicy) broth, but we went to a Chuan Chuan (Skewer) style restaurant where you choose skewers that they will count up at the end. This is definitely one of the top eating experiences to try when in China!
- Double Flavor Hot Pot
- Choice of Skewers: vegetables, meats, etc
- Soy milk
I haven’t been to Sichuan in more than 3 years! I went to Chengdu once and would love to revisit and explore more of the province.
Meeting Beijing Friends
The tour was very filling, food-wise and information wise 😉 Ruixi and Evon did an excellent job teaching us about the history of the cuisines while we ate and shared interesting stories about the origins of the dishes.
The tour was even more enjoyable because of the tour group – I met people from the Beijinger, Beijing Kids, as well as other media influencers (like my friends Lauren’s China Life and We Are Nico). We had a great time eating and chatting together.
Lauren made a great video about our food tour. Check it out!
Try These Top Chinese Foods and More!
I love learning about new foods and places in China and thoroughly enjoyed the evening! Even after living here for 4 years there are still tons of dishes I still haven’t tried, and this evening I was able to cross a few more off my list.
If you want to eat your way through China but aren’t sure where to start, sign up for a tour with Lost Plate! You won’t be disappointed.
Want to learn more about foods and traveling in China? Check these out:
- 10 Street Foods To Try in Beijing
- What Do You Eat In China?
- Where To Travel In China: China Travel Quiz and Best Destinations To See