Tea Leaf Potatoes And Sheep Cheese? My 5 Favourite Chinese Foods!

Fried and Boiled Dumplings Mr Shi's, beijing

If I asked you to list some Chinese foods, would you include potatoes or cheese? You should, because they are some of the many amazing dishes that make up China’s varied regional cuisines.

Before I came to Beijing, I thought I’d eaten Chinese food. But the Chinese food I ate in England is nothing like the Chinese food I eat in China! One explanation could be that most of the restaurants I ate at in the UK were likely run by Cantonese people. I’ve yet to visit the Canton regions so for all I know the food there is exactly like the UK Chinese food. Another explanation is simply that the food is adapted in UK to suit British palates. And lastly, perhaps it’s just that there are so many, many regional foods in China. The ones I’m drawn to may be more unfamiliar than the ones I’ve had back home.

The food in China really is very varied from region to region. From hotpot and dumplings to Yunnan cheese and potatoes there is something yummy for everyone to eat.  So, here is a brief list of just a few of my favourite dishes! Fortunately, living in Beijing, I am never too far from a restaurant featuring the regional food of my choice!

 

Yunnan Cheese and Yunnan Potatoes

Yunnan has some of the most delicious foods and there are plenty of veggie friendly options too! There are various forms of potato to be found in Yunnan restaurants. This potato and tea leaf dish is one of my favourites and is served in a Yunnan restaurant just a few minutes walk from my house. The cheese is made from sheep or goat’s milk and has peppercorns sprinkled on it. I love it!

yunnan poato and cheese

Hot Pot

Hotpot can be hit and miss and I know expats who hate it. I love it but it has to be the right kind. For me, a satisfying hot pot experience includes a vegetarian tomato broth, different kinds of noodles (different thickness and consistency), tons of veg (especially potatoes, sweet potatoes and lotus!), tofu and rice balls/cakes. It’s fun to go to a places where they make the noodles in front of you and where you get to mix up your own dipping sauce.

hotpot in Beijing

Dumplings (Jiaozi)

Jiaozi/dumplings are some of the best things you can eat in Beijing in my opinion! There are so many different fillings so veggies and meat eaters can all enjoy them. We’ve taken several visitors to eat at a dumpling place a few minutes walk from our house and there have been no complaints yet. Fried or boiled they are all delicious!

Dumplings in Beijing

 

KungPao Chicken/Mushroom (Gong Pao Ji Ding)

I don’t eat chicken put I’ve had a few vegetarian versions of Gong Pao Chicken and even made one myself at a Hutong School cooking class. The veggie version is usually made with mushrooms (the king oyster mushrooms work well when they are chopped into cubes- don’t forget to squeeze out some of the liquid). Do you know what puts the gong pao in gong pao chicken? It’s the peanuts. You can switch the chicken to mushroom for a veggie version but any other nut and it’s apparently a completely different dish!

Gong pao Chicken (veggie Mushroom version!)
Gong pao Chicken (veggie Mushroom version!)

 

Aubergine/Eggplant Dishes

There are various versions of aubergine/eggplant dishes in China- both spicy and non-spicy. The best I’ve had was in Sichuan which leads me to believe it’s a Sichuan food. But so many variations seem to crop up in every Chinese restaurant, it’s hard to say!

This is a Yunnan version of aubergine and green beans.
This is a Yunnan version of aubergine and green beans- my slightly disorganised photo system means I can’t find an aubergine only photo!

 

Bonus Cuisine: Tibetan Food

Tibetan food is of course Tibetan, not Chinese. But Tibetan restaurants are all over  China (particularly the Western regions).  The food is hearty and delicious so I do recommend you try it if you can. Check out a post I did on Waegook Tom’s blog if you’d like to know more!

Eating all the Tibetan Food. Yum.
Eating all the Tibetan Food. Yum.

So there you go- just a few of my favourite dishes from China. Is there anything that surprised you?

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29 thoughts on “Tea Leaf Potatoes And Sheep Cheese? My 5 Favourite Chinese Foods!

  1. My favorite food is pretty much the same except that I havent tried the Tibetan cuisine yet. Hot pot is also something which depends heavily on the ingredients. As soon as there is some pig brain or similar I am out of it 🙂

  2. This made me so hungry!! I love hot pot so much. I actually just recently had Chinese hot pot while in NYC for my friend’s birthday, and it was at a place where we got to mix our own sauce and it was delicious. It’s such a fun group experience too, everyone trying each others broth and sauce 🙂 And I’m a firm believer that you can NEVER go wrong with dumplings. Before I left Korea I went to this little hole in the wall specializing in Chinese dumplings and we had several kinds, all perfection. I miss asian food!

  3. Oh, man, fried dumplings. Get in my mouth right now. I’m amazed at how much I love the food in China.

    I had a breakfast street food in Xi’an that I would love to have again (here in Chongqing or anywhere). The cook put a thin layer of batter on a hot griddle, then added an egg, hot sauce, and chopped green onions. Then she put on a hunk of lettuce and dough made from the same batter that was already cooked and crunchy. Then she rolled it up like a tortilla, chopped it in half, and stuffed it in a bag. It was crunchy and a little spicy and eggy. Does anyone know what this is?

  4. I had no idea cheese and potatoes were eaten much in China! Great to know since they are two of my favorite foods! I’ve always wanted to try all the dumplings everywhere, especially the ones that are crispy on the bottom. I’ve also heard great things about hot pot. So much food to try! 🙂

    1. We veggies actually surprisingly do ok in China- there’s a lot of veggie stuff (sometimes you have to remind people not to sneak meat or animal fats in though!) and there really are a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Beijing too. I don’t go hungry that’s for sure!

  5. I’m familiar with a little of it, but some new, delicious looking surprises (never had the pleasure of Tibetan food)

    No Kung Pao for us, as Sarah is allergic to peanuts!

  6. This post waters my mouth, Joella. I have prepared Yunnan Mint Potatoes in a Hutong School Cooking class in Beijing, probably the same one you have been to, but I haven’t tried Tea Leaf Potatoes yet, definitely need to. Hot Pot, Aubergine dishes, tibetan food? This is all so yummy! It’s a shame chinese food is so different in western countries than it is in China because I prefer the original! A chinese friend of mine who is living in China has been to a chinese restaurant in Germany with a group of chinese people he was travelling with and they were all very disappointed. They even didn’t need to tell the restaurant owners; it was too evident that they didn’t enjoy the german version of the chinese food.

    1. That’s really interesting about your Chinese friend not liking the Chinese food in Germany. It’s strange because all the Chinese restaurants I have been to in the UK have been run by Chinese people but the food is different. I wonder if they adapt it to what they think local people would like or maybe they can’t get the right ingredients. I really want to do the Yunnan course at The Hutong. The Sichuan course was so great.

  7. Your photos make me so hungry. Everything looks so delicious, especially the eggplant photo just looks amazing. I love eggplants. Thanks for sharing this great post.

  8. yum. I love hot pot but I’ve never had it with tomato broth. Having anything other then Sichuan hot pot is a crime around here. My favorite are the shrimp dumplings in it. I’ve never had Yunnan’s food but I should be fixing that soon. Its crazy how the food is so not like anything I ever had in the US

  9. This is perfect. I’m planning a trip to China in January and one of the things that worried me the most was being able to keep veggie while I was there. Totally bookmarking this page as things to look out for now. 😀

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