A couple of spots have just opened up on celebrated food author, Fuchsia Dunlop’s, Gastronomic Tour of China in May. Read on for a little sampling of the trip that will make your mouth water, then hurry and book your spot before it’s snatched up.
Food is a very important aspect of Chinese life and culture and with the sheer size of China, there are always new dishes to sample. Here are a few favorites from Fuchsia’s tour across China that are sure to leave your tastebuds happy.
Possibly one of China’s most well-known dishes, Peking Duck has been served up for hundreds of years and was even prepared for the Emperor of China during the Yuan Dynasty.
Each duck is skilfully carved into bite-sized pieces at your table and served with fresh cucumbers and spring onions. Your waiter will show you how to wrap the ingredients in a delicate flour pancake. The crisp and juicy duck skin balanced with the freshness of spring onion and cucumber create a burst of delicious flavor as you bite in. Don’t be fooled by the delicate wraps – like tacos, you always eat more than you can keep track of and you’ll leave the restaurant completely stuffed without even knowing it.
There are many places to sample this famous dish, but a Beijing favorite is called Liqun, an unassuming courtyard restaurant just outside where Beijing’s ancient city wall once stood. You might mistake it for just another hole in the wall eatery, if not for all the photos on the wall of the restaurant’s owner with movie stars and international dignitaries who’ve stopped by to sample his specially-roasted duck over the years.
Shanghai’s Xiaolongbao are filled with balls of pork in the middle of the bun and then steamed to release the juices inside the meat. They originated in the Nanxiang suburb of the city, but can now be found throughout the city. Watch for the towers of bamboo baskets outside many a Shanghai eatery, you’ll know what’s steaming up inside. Remember to take care when biting into a bun as the soupy juices inside are ready and waiting to spill out into your mouth. For an extra kick, dip it in some vinegar.
The most famous Xiaolongbao store is Nanxiang Mantou Dian which is located in the Yu Garden in Shanghai. Every day locals and travelers alike que up in long lines just to snack on these steamed buns.
Sichuan hot pot
The pride of Sichuan province, is its numbing spicy peppers, which are on full display in a meal of Sichuan hotpot
Hot pot is all about cooking the dish yourself and it’s a fun group activity, sitting around the table and placing the raw ingredients into a large boiling soup pot in the center. The thin meat slices need only to be dipped in for a few seconds before they are cooked through. Vegetables can be tossed in by the bowlful and left to simmer until they’re ready to eat.
Part of the experience is the anticipation of the food cooking so that you can finally dig in as a group. Once some of the food is cooked, you select a dipping sauce – usually a peanut based sauce to help take away some of the spice. At the end your host will do a final search through the soup with his ladle to fish out any stray vegetables or noodles.
One of the best hotpot restaurants is Huangcheng Laoma hotpot in Chengdu, where First Lady Michelle Obama sampled the dish on her visit to Sichuan province.
Lanzhou Pulled Noodle Soup
These delicious beef noodles originate from Lanzhou, in northwest China’s Gansu province, but you can now find them throughout China.
Watching the noodles being hand pulled is almost as exciting as sampling the dish itself. The chef takes a large block of dough and stretches it out like a rope, then brings the ends together and twirls it, which in turn stretches the dough. He does this many times until the dough becomes soft and long, but still stretchy. These noodles, after being so carefully created are then served in a broth and usually accompanied by tender beef and a handful of fresh green onions and cilantro.
Ready your chopsticks and get in on Fuchsia’s Gastronomic Tour of China.
Got more time? Head down to Hong Kong, the city of ocean-front skyscrapers, for a sampling of authentic Dim Sum:
Dim Sum refers to a number of bite-sized dishes such as BBQ pork buns, rice noodle rolls and steamed green vegetables, each served in a small bamboo steam basket.
In Hong Kong, Dim Sum plays a part of everyday life with people gathering to eat the small dishes together. In more traditional establishments, carts carrying the latest samplings from the kitchen are taken around to tables and diners pick what they want as it goes by.
BBQ pork buns are a staple of any dim sum meal. The fluffy doughy bread on the outside has a hint of sweetness, while the soy and oyster flavorings of the meat and sauce inside adds a tangy finish. Try a steamed vegetable plate after the heavy flavors of this dish to cleanse your palette.
If there’s one place you need to visit in Hong Kong for Dim Sum then it’s the Michelin starred restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. Because of its popularity, queues are usually around thirty to forty minutes, but the wait is worth it. Their sugar encrusted barbecue buns alone are worth the journey.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s Gastronomic Tour of China leaves May 15th, 2016. Contact us today to book your spot.