Attention travelers, leave the canned food and misconceptions at home… it’s time to eat your way through China.
Minced chicken with pine nuts inside a sesame bun. Pizza with broccoli, buffalo mozzarella and red chili powder. Vegetarian duck, stuffed with soy braised shitake mushrooms and veggies. Cream of green tea with a crunchy center of Jivara chocolate served on a hazelnut biscuit. Is this a menu from San Francisco’s restaurant scene? Nope, these menu items can be found in China, where celebrity chefs have created considerable buzz and where foodie culture has spread to the best restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Often subjected to questionable touristy restaurants, many visitors fail to discover the best dining experiences that China has to offer. It’s a shame too, after all, this is the country where the locals greet each other by asking, “have you eaten yet?” Sadly, when the food in China makes the Western news or appears in social media, it is generally with dramatic headlines about contamination or about bad dining experiences.
China’s restaurant culture is now as sophisticated as its up-and-coming art, fashion and design scenes. So why do so many tour companies continue to subject their guests to crowded, touristy restaurants? Even beyond Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, it is possible to enjoy unforgettable dining experiences, like a catered alfresco Tibetan lunch at a monastery overlooking the Himalayas while musicians play for you, or a Silk Road BBQ amidst the sand dunes Dunhuang as you watch the sun rise.
Nine distinct regional cuisines (depending on who you ask, some say more, some say fewer). Dining venues that fascinate and intrigue you. Home to over 1 billion foodies, 7 Michelin Star restaurants, culinary events like the Shanghai Masters of Food & Wine event, and a new wave of humble chefs transforming the dining experience in China. Have you eaten yet?
Lisa Reyes joined Imperial Tours in 2008 and works out of the company’s sales and marketing office in San Francisco. She is passionate about food, foreign films, music and camping, not necessarily in that order. Ask Lisa about her mom’s transformative first trip to China.