Hey there, college kids! Did you know that every time you save money by eating ramen noodles you’re actually immersing yourself in Chinese culture? Okay, probably not. But ramen really is legitimately a stable in China, at least the real kind. But egg rolls, lo mein, General Tso’s chicken, and chow mein, on the other hand, are not at all authentic Chinese dishes. Having lived in China for nearly 6 months, I’ve had my share of really good dishes that make it all worthwhile. When you move to China (cause you’re totally thinking about it), check out these 10 dishes.
1. Mutton Stew
Known locally as Pào mó, the Xi’an people were the ones who came up with this dish. Aside from mutton, it can alternatively be served with beef or pork instead. The most unique feature of Pào mó is that rather than using noodles, it is comprised of little pieces of unleavened bread, which is perfect for soaking up the rich flavors of the stew. It includes pickled garlic and chili sauce that you’re technically supposed to eat separately, but whatever. Rebel against the system and just mix it all together, guys.
2. BBQ Meat
If there is one thing that China isn’t lacking, it’s street carts that serve BBQ meat. You’ll also discover plenty of restaurants that offer this fare as well. Take any meat imaginable – chicken, pork, lamb, calamari, octopus – cooked over burning coal and chow down like the classy lady/gentleman that you are! Bonus points if you allow an octopus tentacle to dangle from your mouth for a bit.
3. Yak Dumplings
Okay, so this isn’t all that traditional on mainland China itself. It’s more of a Tibetan dish. However, since I technically ate these in the People’s Republic of China, it counts, okay? It is impossible to properly describe how delicious yak meat is in a way that does it justice. I will simply say that the juicy, tender meat explodes in your mouth like a catastrophe done right.
4. Sweet and Sour Eggplant
To be honest, I’m fairly neutral towards eggplant when I’m back home, but in China it’s something I willingly eat several times a week. For whatever reason, they manage to make it almost taste like pork! Add some chili and fish sauce to this bad boy and you’re set!