It doesn’t matter who you are, we all like a good snack, and where you are is likely to have a big influence on what you eat. A list of the top 15 cities of snacks in China was produced by a Weibo user in April last year, and created quite the stir.
Based on criteria such as, distinctive features, overseas popularity, market coverage, innovation and regional reach, the list includes (in order): Taipei, Chengdu, Xian, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xiamen, Nanjing, Harbin and Kaifeng.
Here’s the lowdown on five of the top snack cities:
Taipei snacks include a wide variety of street food, some are native to Taipei, but the majority of them originated from the Chinese mainland, often introduced to Taipei but with a local touch thrown in. Some classics include:
Image Courtesy of 台湾美食展
Sheng jian bao (a kind of oiled pork dumplings topped with sesame seeds)
Image Courtesy of 大众点评网
Chou doufu (deep fried homemade “stinky tofu” topped with pickled vegetables; it smells awful but tastes great)
Image Courtesy of 百度糯米
Dachang bao xiaochang (a pork sausage topped with garlic, chili or black pepper)
Of course, there are many, many more; Taipei night markets are the best place to go for these tasty treats.
Sichuan Province has long been famed for its fiery food, known as chuancai. As the provincial capital of Sichuan, Chengdu was always going to be a top snack city. Today chuan cuisine has spread across China and is embraced by people nationwide for its tangy spicy flavor.
Image Courtesy of 西部乡村旅游网
Dan dan mian (a kind of noodle served with red pepper oil, chili, salty sauce, ground meat and chopped green onions)
Image Courtesy of 网易博客
Chaoshou (Sichuan wontons made in a thin wrapper, spiced up with up to a dozen ingredients)
Image Courtesy of 大众点评网
Tangyuan (little dough balls with different fillings, most famously black sesame paste)
It is said that there are more than two hundred types of snacks in Chengdu alone!
Xi’an, China’s former capital, is an ancient city reputed for its delicious treats, leaving many tourists (and locals) coming back for more and more.
Image Courtesy of 人才人力网
Yangrou pao mo (pieces of flatbread bun served in well-cooked mutton soup with silk noodles and caraway)
Image Courtesy of 做饭网
Rou jia mo (baked flatbread buns split open and filled with shredded meat that’s stewed with spices)
Image Courtesy of 大众点评网
Liangpi (cold wheat noodles served with sesame or peanut paste, salt, vinegar, and chili)
Image Courtesy of 我的搜狐
Shizi bing (orange persimmon cakes filled with sugar and other sweet curios, such as ground walnuts or rose petals; they have a delightfully sweet and sticky taste)
Image Courtesy of Flickr/Mike Baechang
Xi’an has long been a city of Muslim influence, consequently Yangrou chuan (lamb kebabs grilled over hot coals topped with red pepper) is typical here.
Wuhan ranked seventh in the list, and the local snacks are mainly served at breakfast. In Wuhan, having breakfast is called Guozao, which means literally means “spend the morning”. Similar to the afternoon tea in England, food here is a lifestyle in itself. The most famous:
Image Courtesy of Chinaface
Re gan mian (hot dry noodles stirred with sesame paste and chopped green onion, with a history of more than 80 years; Wuhaners have even applied to include this mighty munch on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list)
Image Courtesy of 3158餐饮网
Danjiu (stirred egg with sweet rice wine)
Image Courtesy of 户埠巷
Shaomei (glutinous rice, shredded mushrooms, and ground meat are filled in a wonton wrapper alongside chopped green onion and black pepper). Try these mouthwatering little bad boys at the first available opportunity.
The list obviously wouldn’t be complete without a bit of capital catering, and Beijing certainly punches its weight when it comes to snackage. Temple fairs and market places are good choices for a gourmet tour around Beijing, and one of the most famous streets must be Nan Luo Gu Xiang, where you can try anything from deep fried scorpions to the local yogurt. There are said to be about three hundred types of snacks in Beijing. How many have you tried?
Image Courtesy of 安徽市长网
Lü da gun (steamed glutinous rice flour filled with red bean paste made into rolls, cut and wrapped with fried soybean powder)
Image Courtesy of 下厨房
Zha jiang mian (hot dry noodles stirred with a rich and salty special sauce)
Image Courtesy of 80天环球网
Douzhi (fermented soybean milk, which is strange tasting to many at the first go, but after a few attempts becomes oddly moreish)
China has long put food at the center of its culture, arguably more so than any other nation. The snacks above are but a mere few of what the modern middle kingdom has to over, and don’t forget there are many other cities that didn’t make the list. So, what are you waiting for pick up your kuai zi (chopsticks) and get snacking goddammit!
Image Courtesy of 美加金联移民