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Exotics, Snacks and Drinks in China
Q: Except for those exquisitely-cooked Chinese dishes showcased in different-styled restaurants, what else are worth trying as well for foreign visitors during their China visit?

China enjoys a very long histroy in cuisine. Most foreigners who come to China for the first time are always amazed by the incredible variety of Chinese food. And here introduced are some food that add a special flavor to the main content of the Chinese food.


The Chinese eat everything, some foreigners may say. But the Chinese say that the Cantonese eat everything on land except cars, everything in the river except boats and everything in the sky except planes. There is some truth in this, for in Chinese cuisine, there are some things westerners baulk at eating, for instance, dog meat, snake, rat, cat, scorpion, sea cucumbers, turtle, etc.

You must be a little cautious about the food if you eat in a Cantonese restaurant. Some dishes sound very nice, but in fact they are not quite what you imagine. For instance, there is a dish called "Dragon and Tiger Fighting Each Other", which are actually snake and cat meat. (The Snake symbolises the dragon and the cat symbolises the tiger.) A typical dish in Shandong cuisine is "Fried Scorpions" in which the scorpions look as if they are alive. This frightens some people, but in fact their are no longer poisonous and are good for your health to eliminate your inner heat, according to traditional Chinese medicine. So ask what the dish is before you order it, or ask the waiter to change it for another one if you really can not swallow it.


There are many varieties of snacks in Beijing. In addition to the traditional ones, such as Jiaozi (wheat-flour dumplings), Miantiao (noodles), Douzhi (a fermented soya-bean milk), Chaogan (Quick-fried liver), Baodu (Quick-fried tripes), Aiwowo (glutinous millet cake), Lvdagun (glutinous covered with sugar bean flour), Bingtanghulu (candied haws on a stick), Baozi (Steamed dumplings), Shaobing (clay-oven bread) and so on, many other snacks have been introduced into the capital from different regions, making Beijing a place with mixture of snack foods from the north, south, east and west.

You may have snacks in most restaurants, especially those which open in the morning for breakfast. In the evening, there are two food streets bristling with small stalls selling various kinds of snacks. One is at Donghuamen (East Flowery Gate), an east-west street crossing Wangfujing and about a hundred yard west of the Palace Hotel. The other is at Longfusi Market Street near Dongsi. If you are tried of big meals in the hotels, you could go there to have some light snacks.

Fast Food

If you crave Western fast food, you have several choices in Beijing - McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and others. Beijing has the world's largest McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in terms of their floor space. These Western fastfood restaurants have many branches throughout Beijing, so you won't have difficulty in locating them.

Chinese fast food is also catching up. At the moment, it is limited to boxed rice or noodles with some meat and vegetables. A few newly-opened Chinese fast food restaurants serve set food including a bowl of rice, one or two kinds of dishes and soup. As the pace of people's life is becoming faster, they don't want to spend much time on lunch. In the evening, they probably have a more relaxed and formal meal.

(China.org.cn, Source from Beijing Portal July 4, 2002)

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