Before writing this article, I did a search online for Chinese street food and the only thing that seemed to come up in images were those of giant bugs and weird sea creatures on a stick. Scary stuff, right?!
I’m not one that’s excited about the prospect of munching on some creepy crawlies for dinner, and I think for most people, this is a simple novelty that will wear off after a single go. So, I thought I’d get into some of the fast foods you can find on the streets of China for the less daring eaters.
Here are a few of my favorites:
It’s like the Chinese version of a breakfast burrito, and the first time I came across it in Beijing, I ordered two! Only five yuan on the street, mine was prepared right in front of my eyes by a man using a crepe skillet. Basically, he made a crepe, cracked an egg on top followed by thick soy and chilli sauce and finally, spring onions. When folding the burrito, he included a fried and salty crisp bread in the middle.
Overall, divine. He even served it up in a plastic bag for easy portability.
Palm-sized dough buns filled with a number of choices from meat to slightly sweet are often found steaming in bamboo containers on the streets. Inside you can find vegetables, meats, barbecued pork (my favorite) or even purple taro. These are the perfect snack foods or light lunches, and are always super cheap.
Some buns will have a thick bread coating, but my favorite were the ones that have the same bread consistency but with minimal thickness for the perfect bread to filling ratio.
While wandering around a night market in Urumqi in western China, I came across an efficient street stall operation. It basically occurred underneath a staircase! The Chinese vendors were cooking giant, fresh shallot pancakes in the space of a closet and making quite the business out of it.
The pancakes were either plain or covered in shallots and chilli spice (and plenty of oil). They’re a delicious snack or accompaniment to a bigger meal.
Of course this doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to fast and tasty Chinese snacks. But, these will at least get you started on your China food adventures!
Photo: Brooke Schoenman
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