15 Best Nanjing Foods You Should Try

Nanjind food, also called Jinling food, has a history of more than 2,000 years and is well-known for the salty and sweet taste. Cooking Nanjing food requires not only perfect knife skills, but also adroit handling of stewing and simmering techniques. Thanks to the hard work of generations of chefs, now Nanjing has more than one hundred special dishes. Here, we have summarized 15 best Nanjing foods you should try whilst in Nanjing.

1. Nanjing Salted Duck

 Chinese name: 金陵盐水鸭 jīn líng yán shuĭ yā
 Flavor: salty, refreshing
 Cooking Method: simmering
Nanjing has been jokingly and aptly called the city of duck because this city has many duck delicacies. Among them, Nanjing Salted Duck can be considered the most representative one. Local ducks are fed with grains and thus have fatter lining and much tender meat. The duck will be simmered for one hour with pepper, ginger, yellow wine and star anise. The finished Nanjing Salted Duck will have a strong fragrance and refreshing to the palate. The duck is the fattest and tastes the best in lunar August when fragrans is in full bloom; thus this delicacy is also called Fragrans Duck (Guì Huā Yā).

2. Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup

 Chinese name: 鸭血粉丝汤 yā xuĕ fĕn sī tāng
 Flavor: salty, spicy
 Cooking Method: boiling
When traveling in Nanjing, you may find that restaurants offering this dish are scattered everywhere. Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup is famous for its jelly-like duck blood, chewy duck intestine, soft duck liver, brined gizzard and smooth vermicelli. A little sesame oil, a pinch of dried shrimps and coriander will enhance the fragrance. Don’t forget to add some chilly oil, the spicy flavor is sure to arouse your appetite.

3. Nanjing Roast Duck

 Chinese name: 南京烤鸭 nán jīng kăo yā
 Flavor: salty, sweet
 Cooking Method: roasting
Many people have heard of Beijing Roasted Duck. However, they rarely known that it is actually originated from Nanjing Roast Duck. Nanjing Roast Duck has thin and crispy skin, juicy flesh and intense flagrance. Bear in mind that before eating the duck, dip it into the restaurant’s special marinade first, stimulating the duck’s freshness to the full extent. If you can’t finish the whole duck, partial duck is also sold in Nanjing restaurant.

4. Small Steamed Bun / Tang Bao

 Chinese name: 小笼包 xiăo lóng bāo
 Flavor: salty, sweet, juicy
 Cooking Method: steaming
Small Steamed Bun is not only for eating, but also for drinking! The reason being the filling is made of colloidal soup lumps and will become juicy again after steaming. The wrapper of of a good-quality Small Steamed Bun is as thin as a piece of paper. So thin that when picked up, you can even see the liquid inside! So, remember to poke a small hole on the wrapping and comsume the soup first. Be careful though as the soup can be very hot. After drinking the soup, you can dip the bun into vinegar before savoring it.

5. Stewed Eel

 Chinese name: 炖生敲 dùn shēng qīao
 Flavor: salty, smooth, umami
 Cooking Method: beating, deep-frying, braising
Stewed Eel is a very demanding Nanjing food in terms of knife skill and heat control. Chef needs to debone the fleshy eel first, and then keeps beating the eel’s back to make the texture softer. After being deep-fried, they will be braised with pork and garlic at different heat levels. The finished eel is very tender, smooth and fragrant.

6. Shredded Dried Tofu

 Chinese name: 煮干丝 zhŭ gān sī
 Flavor: salty, umami, spicy
 Cooking Method: braising
Zhu Gan Si has been a representative dish of southern China since 1736 of Qing Dynasty. Until today, Nanjing people still retain its special cooking process. In local tofu store, tofu needs to go through several steps like soaking, steaming and slicing, before being shredded. Added with ham, mushroom, agaric, shrimp and bamboo shoot, shredded dried tofu will be braised in meat soup for a while to fully absorb the fragrance. Salt and chicken essence are the final touches. You may add some chilly oil if you like.

7. Tofu Jelly

 Chinese name: 豆腐涝 dòu fu lào
 Flavor: salty, spicy
 Cooking Method: stewing
Nanjing’s Tofu Jelly, or Tofu Curd is well-known for the over ten carefully selected side ingredients including dried shrimps, minced pickled vegetable, agaric, chopped onions, chilly oil, and sesame oil. Local people believe that such an assortment has an auspicious meaning of bright future. All these together makes Nanjing Tofu Curd attractive, fragrant and palatable. This Nanjing food brings you a mixed flavors of salty, umami and spicy.

8. Beef Potsticker / Pan-fried Beef Dumpling

 Chinese name: 牛肉锅贴 niú ròu guō tiē
 Flavor: refreshing, salty, sweet
 Cooking Method: pan-frying
Isn’t it tantalizing when seeing many delicate golden potstickers neatly arranged on the pot? It is a common scene along Nanjing streets. Minced beef and decocting technique are the two important factors of a delicious Beef Potsticker. Experienced cook will add spring onion, ginger, sugar and soy sauce into minced beef in a certain order and decoct potstickers with rapeseed oil. The finished potstickers feature soft top and crispy bottom. Be cautious when eating potstickers as the soup may spurt on the first bite. Such a delicious flavor makes one wanting more and more.
 Read more: Recipe – How to make Pan-fried Dumplings

9. Pidu Noodles

 Chinese name: 皮肚面 pí dŭ miàn
 Flavor: salty
 Cooking Method: decocting, boiling
Pidu Noodles is a popular local dish for breakfast for local people. Cooks will select the skin of pig’s back or back leg, remove its fat lining, boil and then decoct it. This process makes the pork skin chewy and crispy. Other ingredients include pig’s kidney, sausage, egg, agaric, green and pickled vegetable. All these go to make delicious topping for the dish. Most restaurants will use yellow alkaline noodles and handmade noodles, both tasting chewy. In addition, because of the high collagen content in porkskin, this dish is the favorite of young girls.

10. Sweet Taros with Fragrans

 Chinese name: 桂花糖芋苗 guì huā táng yù miáo
 Flavor: sweet, glutinous
 Cooking Method: simmering
If you travel to Nanjing in autumn, it will be your golden chance to try Sweet Taros with Fragrans. At this time, fragrans is in full blossom and many restaurants will preserve it with sugar to make fragrans syrup. Fresh taros are peeled, steamed and then simmered in a copper pot with fragrans syrup and brown sugar. Finished taros have beautiful crimson color and everyone will be impressed by its thick and sweet palatable texture.

11. Zhuangyuan Beans

 Chinese name: 状元豆 zhuàng yuán dòu
 Flavor: sweet, chewy, glutinous
 Cooking Method: stewing
Zhuangyuan is the champion in royal examination for selecting officials. This dish is simple but with an auspicious meaning. It is said that once the Zhuangyuan beans are eaten, one will get high scores in the examination. Soybeans, red dates and red yeast rice are stewed for one hour and finally become a sweet and glutinous dessert. You can have it after the main course.

12. Chicken Balls Stewed in Clear Soup

 Chinese name: 清炖鸡孚 qīng dùn jī fú
 Flavor: refreshing, mild
 Cooking Method: frying, simmering
This dish can only be savored in some traditional and superior restaurants because of its elaborate cooking process. Chicken legs are deboned, sliced and stuffed with minced pork, covered with egg white and then deep-fried to form the shape. In order to add the refreshing flavor, the deep-fried chicken balls will then be simmered with mushroom, ham and yellow wine. The best Chicken Balls Stewed in Clear Soup in Nanjing can be found in Liu Hua Chun Restaurant.

13. Steamed Lotus Root Stuffed with Sweet Sticky Rice

 Chinese name: 桂花糯米藕 guì huā nuò mǐ ǒu
 Flavor: sweet
 Cooking Method: stewing
Steamed Lotus Root Stuffed with Sweet Sticky Rice is another famous dessert in Nanjing. The lotus root is stuffed with glutinous rice, and then stewed with brown sugar, fragrans jam and red dates for one hour. Upon trying the sliced lotus root, you will know why the glutinous rice and lotus root are the perfect match! This mellow and sticky Nanjing food is highly recommended for women and kids who like desserts. 
 Read more: Recipe – How to make Steamed Lotus Root Stuffed with Sweet Sticky Rice

14. Stir-fried Artemisia with Smoked Bean Curd

 Chinese name: 芦蒿炒香干 lú hāo chăo xīang gān
 Flavor: mild, umami
 Cooking Method: stir-frying
Two ingredients of this dish, artemisia and smoked bean curd, are quite common in China. What makes this dish special is that local people only choose the top of the Artemisia, which is the most tender and fresh part. Also, instead of using various seasonings, local people will only add a pinch of salt, in order to retain the vegetable’s natural fragrance. By the way, this Nanjing food is good for your liver and throat.

15. May Ling Porridge

 Chinese name: 美龄粥 meĭ líng zhōu
 Flavor: soft, light
 Cooking Method: boiling
Soong May Ling was the most influential first lady of Republic of China (1912-1949). It is said that one day she lacked appetite and her chef made this porridge for her. Upon taking the first sip, Soong May Ling felt much better and since then this porridge became her favorite. Now, May Ling Porridge has become a special Nanjing food. The ingredients are glutinous rice, soybean milk, lily and wild yam. Though it looks simple and taste light, May Ling Porridge is very nutritious. Because the yam is good for the spleen and the glutinous rice provides energy. This dish is recommended for weak and elder people.

- Last updated on Jul. 07, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on 15 Best Nanjing Foods You Should Try
Asked by SILPA MERIN from INDIA | Aug. 17, 2018 11:59Reply
are there any korean restaurants near nanjing medical university?
Answers (1)
Answered by Nicole from FRANCE | Aug. 21, 2018 02:56

Yes, as I know, the university (Jiangning Campus) has a Korea Restaurant in the 1st floor of Dongyuan Dining Hall inside the school.
Asked by sanjiv from INDIA | Dec. 20, 2015 07:41Reply
Best indian vegetarian food in Nanjing close to Wanda Hilton Hotel.
Answers (1)
Answered by Emma from USA | Dec. 21, 2015 00:28

As I know, there is no special Indian vegetable restaurant neaby the hotel. But you can find an indian restaurant and order their vegetable dishes: Nepalese & Indian Restaurant wins high popularity among local people and tourists. It provides authentic indian foods. You can also taste their vegetable dishes. The prices are acceptable. It's located at Shiguwan Food & Leisure Area, No.193, Shigu Road. Hope you like.
Asked by yasir from PAKISTAN | Sep. 05, 2014 13:29Reply
is there any resturants with halal food for muslims in nanjing?
and how many muslims live currently??
Answers (2)
Answered by Lily from INDONESIA | Sep. 05, 2014 21:28

I know two halal restaurants in NJ.
Lvliuju Halal Restaurant
No. 248 of South Taiping Road, Qinhuai District
Anleyuan Halal Restaurant
No. 138 of Wangfu Street, Qinhuai District

It is roughly estimated that there are about 12,000 Muslims living in NJ.
Answered by ad from CHINA | Oct. 11, 2015 06:32

Man o Salwa is an exclusive Halal food restaurant in the city. You can enjoy variety of delicious Pakistani, Arabic, Indian and Chinese food. Address: 16 Jiangjun Ave.
Asked by yash malde from INDIA | Jun. 17, 2013 10:30Reply
is indian veg food available easily in nanjing and where?
Answers (3)
Answered by Yeam from IN | Jun. 18, 2013 02:19

I only know one indian food restaurant called Ganesh Jazz Bar and Indian Restaurant at No. 3, Kunlun Road. I think you may go there to have a look.
Answered by Param from INDIA | Jul. 08, 2015 07:17

Taj hotel is also there, its Indian Hotel closed to Crowne plaza
Answered by Ad from CHINA | Oct. 11, 2015 06:30

Man o Salwa is an exclusive Halal food restaurant. You can enjoy variety of delicious Pakistani, Arabic, Indian and Chinese food.
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