Surprising Chinese Food

What could be surprising about Chinese food, you ask? Isn’t it all chop suey and sweet and sour chicken, spring rolls and sweet corn soup, chili chicken and gobi Manchurian? On my first visit to China a few years ago I was surprised at how wrong this is. Noodle soups were only a quick stop for lunch. After working my way through many pleasant surprises, I settled on stir fried veggies with slices of meat, lots of different kinds of veggies on the side, and a bowl of steamed rice as a default comfortable dinner.

For dinner with non-Chinese friends on my last visit to Wuhan, I walked into a nice large restaurant full of people. Negotiating a menu is no longer impossible, now that everyone is equipped with apps that look through the camera or translate speech instantly. It may still be hard to understand what the translation means (an example is in the photo above). One of the dishes we ordered was billed as a fish soup, and the lady who was taking our orders added that it had eggs. A little confusing, we thought, but let out order stand. The result was a complete, but pleasant surprise. It looked like a custard (featured photo) but tasted of fish soup. It came studded with mussels. It was one of most delightfully different things I’ve come across for half a year.

I forgot to take note of what it is called. Can an old China hand help me out with guesses about what its name might be? (Thanks to a fellow blogger, I now have an answer. It is called 蒸蛋羹, Zhēng dàngēng, ie, steamed egg tart, or 蒸水蛋, zhēng shuǐ dàn, ie, steamed water egg).

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

16 thoughts on “Surprising Chinese Food”

      1. In Beijing there were restaurants servicing the various provincial office towers (perhaps they were a kind of consulate—I was confused). So the people from those areas would go there to eat. But yes, agreed that eating the local foods in generally the best.

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      2. Yes, I noticed that. It is similar in Delhi. Each state government has a liaison office with the center. And they each have a cafeteria with provincial food. Did you try the Sichuan food in one of these places?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I never saw that before! That’s an amazing concoction. My China book has a whole chapter on food, but none of it will help with this question. Coffee is a big part of another chapter on hot drinks. 🙂 If you find out what that is, let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

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