One of the most enjoyable ways to learn Mandarin is to take a food tour. If you’re a gastronome, you won’t mind this aspect as not only will you get to sample some of the most delicious treats in Chinese cuisine, you also get to refine your Mandarin along the way. Just think of it in this way, the better Mandarin you know, the more food you’ll be able to enjoy.
Moreover, if you like to cook your own food, it’s a good idea to learn Mandarin related to it, so you can then easily scour all the cookbooks you want to make the most tastiest treats as well as shop for all the ingredients with ease. The following are a few of the best Chinese street foods that will delight the foodie and the learner in you.
1. Guo Tie – Sticky Pot Dumplings
Literally translating to mean “pot stick”, Guo Tie dumplings are fried pork dumplings which have a crispy base. The filling consists of pork mince with seasoning. While slightly similar in appearance, they have a tougher skin than Jiaozi dumplings so that they can withstand the frying process.
2. Jiaozi – Chinese Dumplings
Filled with almost any kind of meat and even vegetables at times, Jiaozi are deliberately shaped like golden ingots. It is believed that consuming them will bring good luck to a person. They are usually paired with soy and vinegar dipping sauces and are commonly made by steaming in a small bamboo steamer.
3. Baozi – Chinese Bread Buns
Also known as Bao buns, Baozi have become popular worldwide. These bread buns are cooked by steaming which gives them a fluffy, light texture that adds a sharp contrast to the filling. Fillings for the buns range from savoury to sweet, but pickled or barbecued pork is the most common one. Baozi are such a hit that they are international favourites, even being recreated in fine dining restaurants as well.
4. Cong You Bing - Scallion Pancakes
Consisting of scallion and pork bits, fried into a buttery, flaky pancake, Cong You Bing is an extremely popular street food. It is actually common to see people line up for this tasty treat. Perfect in any weather, this usually pairs well with green tea and even sake, making it a delicious meal for almost any occasion.
5. Xiao Long Bao - Soup Dumplings
Much like Jiaozi, the Xiao Long Bao is thought to bring good luck to the eater. This makes them popular food items to have during the Chinese New Year. These dumplings are filled with ground pork as well as hot broth and are supposed to be eaten in one single mouthful. The burst of flavour and the contrasting textures all combine to make this humble street food the favourite of many and it has gained international acclaim as well.
While these are some of the most popular ones that you should try out, you’re sure to develop your own taste. Always be sure to talk to your food vendor. It gives you a better understanding of the food and also brushes up your Mandarin.