Out of all the questions I’m asked about living in China, the most common is definitely “So, how’s the food?”
In a word, delicious. From dumplings and noodles to spicy Sichuan and Hunan fare, there’s no shortage of tastes and flavors in China. Yet the language barrier and not knowing what to order can make visiting a local restaurant stressful for some. Here’s a handy guide to finding a restaurant in China.
- CityWeekend has sites with great listings for Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou
- Chowhound China is a foodies dream site, with a robust group of active contributors
Dianping.com is another excellent food site, however it’s currently only in Chinese. Non-Mandarin speakers can still use it, however, with the help of Google Translate.
Just open Google Translate, enter the link in to the translate box, and select Chinese – English (or whatever language you prefer). Hit translate, and search away! The translations aren’t perfect, but you’ll get an idea of spots to try.
If you’d prefer not to plan your meals but rather discover places on your own, some common sense will go a long way. Look for busy places (a great sign they’re delicious), point to dishes on neighbors’ tables that look tasty, and don’t be afraid to experiment!
Here’s a list of commonly served Chinese food dishes with their English translations. It might not be a bad idea to print it out and bring it with you to your corner Chinese restaurant. Friendly waitresses will happily point out which ones the have on offer.
I’ll put up another post soon with links to great sites for Chinese food recipes. Even if you’re not in China, you can easily make Chinese food at home that’s much more authentic than your local Panda Express.