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Food destinations on a cross china trip


Gabriel Lewis
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So I'm going to China at the end of may, and will be staying until the end of july. The plan is too meet up with my girlfriend in Shanghai, and from there we will traverse our way south and west, ending up in Sichuan towards the end of the trip. The itinerary is roughly Shanghai, Yangzhou, Fujian, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Lijiang (in Yunnan), Sichuan (including chengdu, and potentially a number of other cities, and finally Chongqing. Now I realize some of these are provinces, but we haven't hammered out the details of all the specifics yet.

I've started doing some of my own research, but I thought I'd throw up a thread here to ask for some suggestions from the community. I'm interested in any destination a food enthusiast would it enjoy, be it an open air market, restaurant, particular street vendor, tea house, or anything else you might think of. In particular I'd be interesting in seeing a restaurant or other food related thing that highlights the speciality of a particular region. Like a dish or ingredient its well known for, for example. We will be spending about 4 or 5 days in each place, so there should be plenty of time to hit up the good stuff. For restaurants, anything goes as long as it isn't ridiculously expensive. Also, my girlfriend is from Sichuan and is fluent in mandarin, so we aren't too concerned about any issues tourists who don't speak mandarin might have; except maybe in guangzhou?

Any and all suggestions are welcome, and would be much appreciated! And if there is any more info anyone might need to make a suggestion, please let me know.

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I made a similar trip with my Chinese partner a few years ago and the food was fantastic everywhere. My best food memories are from the night markets in smaller towns. The freshness of the vegetables was always exceptional. Fish, ducks and chicken were usually killed and cooked minutes after passing our order. Of course the cooking was always simple there but once in a while we got lucky and found amazing cooks too.

Otherwise, any big city will have their top restaurants but we did not try any with a few exceptions in Beijing. Others might be able to provide better suggestions.

One thing you should actively try to find are those small pubs where you can eat crayfish while drinking beer at night. Some chinese beers are surprisingly good considering that we are only exposed to Tsing Tao outside China and crayfish are so cheap it would be a shame not to enjoy them. If you find Uyghurs selling lamb kebabs in night markets, get a few dozen of them with more beer, you won't regret it.

If you do go to Guizhou, try the local specialty called Kaili fish in sour soup (or something like that). I believe it is made with unripe sichuan peppers and it is mind boggling tasty. Most small restaurants with a fish tank will serve it. Guiyang is great for street food but even there I was told that it is disappearing.

The only place we did not get good food was in Lijiang (I actually did not like my stay at all over there). This place is quite touristy and it seems like everyone can open restaurants there and make some money even if they are bad cooks. If you like wild mushrooms, Yunnan is a paradise however.

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Thanks for the tips Magictofu! Sorry to hear that you didn't like Lijiang, but my girlfriend was there only a few months ago. I understand that it is very tourstity, but I have also been told by a good food friend of mine that there is an older part of lijiang seperated from where all the tourists go. He said that's where I should go to experience the real Lijiang.

Kent I just took a look at your photos and they're very nice. I was wondering if you could tell me the name and or address of the market in shanghai in this post. Looks exactly like the kind of market I'd want to visit.

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That's a local one near my grandmother's house in Puxi. That's all I can remember.

But it's nothing fancy and there should be a ton of those everywhere. You'll also need to speak Chinese to buy anything.

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