Though the city area of Dalian is not very large, it has numerous restaurants providing a variety of cuisine from the best seafood to authentic Brazilian grills.
Surrounded by the Yellow Sea and inland Bohai Sea, Dalian has a coastline of nearly 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles). The north temperate zone climate with high rainfalls endow it with an ideal seawater environment to produce a variety of rich nutritious marine products including fish, prawns, crabs, shells, echinus, sea cucumbers, abalone and algae and so on. Therefore sea food is undoubtedly king of the local dining scene.
Wanbao Seafood Restaurant is reputed as 'king of the numerous sea food restaurants in Dalian' with extravagant decorations and the best service. Of course the price is the highest too. They have two main branches in the downtown area. An equivalent is the century-old Shuangshengyuan which started as a small food stall owned by a woman who sold the traditional Dalian snack - Xian Yu Bing Zi. Shuangshengyuan has many branches throughout the city, the most famous being the one at No. 643, Huanghe Lu near Xi'an Lu in the western part of the downtown area. Tian Tian Yu Gang with eleven locations in the city serves fresh fish at extremely reasonable prices.
Actually, a more budget choice is to choose a home restaurant in the scenic coastal area and cook the fresh sea food yourself.
Tip: We suggest seafood lovers to avoid the period from July to August when fishing is prohibited and the choices are limited.
What to eat
Gutted prawns stir-fried with ginger, spring onion and spice, and then stewed on a low heat. The finished prawn should have a bright appearance, like a red flower. It tastes fresh and tender.
Steamed Sea Bream
This is a very famous Shandong cuisine. Sea Breams are steamed with ginger, spring onion, mushroom, ham pieces and bamboo shoots for fifteen minutes. It is a favorite dish served with wine.
Fresh scallops are steamed with lima beans, shallots, wine and sauces - preserving the original taste of the seafood. When cooked they are served on tender egg white pieces with vegetables and diced carrot to present a pleasing appearance. It tastes light and fresh.
Lantern-shaped Steamed Abalone
Shelled abalones are elaborately cut into the shape of lanterns and steamed with the seasonings of shallot, gingers and salt for seven minutes. The finished dish should keep the fresh flavor of abalone. It is usually served with simmering shellfish soup.
Where to eat
Wanbao Seafood City
Address: No. 125, Tianjin Jie, Zhongshan District
Authentic century-old seafood restaurant; a good place for a friends' get-together, Salted Fish& Corn Pancake
First Branch: No. 1, Anle Jie, Zhongshan District
Second Branch: No. 643, Huanghe Lu, Xigang District
Third Branch: Qinjian Jie, Zhongshan District
Four Branch: No. 71, Anshan Lu, Shahekou District
Tian Tian Yu Gang
Tian Tian Yu Gang is a locally well-known chained restaurant brand, renowned for their seafood. The service in different branches may vary a little.
First Branch: No. 72, Tianjin Jie, Zhongshan District
Second Branch: No. 41, Yan'an Lu, Zhongshan District
Third Branch: No.10, Renmin Lu, Zhongshan District
Fourth Branch: Minzhu Square
Fifth Branch: No. 45, Tongtai Jie
It is elaborately decorated in blue with designs of the world's oceans on the walls. The service is considered to be one of the best of the seafood restaurants in the city.
Address: No. 46, Er Qi Square, Beidou Jie
A seaside restaurant in the southeastern coastal area provides fresh scallops, abalone served with mustard juice.
Address: No. 1, Yingbin Lu, Zhongshan District
It is on the 3rd floor of Wanda International Hotel providing a buffet of a variety of local seafood.
Address: 3rd floor of Wanda International Hotel at No. 539, Changjiang Lu, Xigang District
Jinshitan Chunni Restaurant
Address: Jinshitan Scenic Area
Cantonese cuisine, the southern seafood king equivalent of Dalian in the north is also a luxurious choice in the city. New Oriental (Xin Dong Fang) Food City on the Gulf Square (Gang Wan Guang Chang) at the eastern end of Renmin Lu near Dalian Passenger Dock and Tsim Sha Tsui, a Hong Kong-style restaurant are two of the best places to have a try. Cantonese and Hong Kong style dim sum are also available.
Where to eat
New Oriental (Xin Dong Fang) Food City
Address: No. 3, Gulf Square (Guang3 Wan1 Guang2 Chang3), Zhongshan District
Tsim Sha Tsui
Address: 1st floor in Bai Mian Cheng Building, Jiefang Lu, Zhongshan District
Hong Kong dim sum: egg tarts, cha siu bau (barbecued pork buns)
Gourmands will find an assortment of grills in the city. The most famous one is grilled sleeve-fish with mixed seasoning of mashed garlic and chilli sauce. A palm-sized sleeve-fish is only ten yuan. It tastes fresh and crisp with a spicy flavor.
A fatty sea fish called Lin Ji Yu is the favorite of many locals. Stallholders grill the fish on charcoal fires and add spice and pepper. There are also kebab-style grills of beef, mutton, liver and other meat. The stalls near Wusi Square and Sanba Square run by Xinjiang people boast the best in the city.
In recent years, many foreign Brazilian, Japanese and Korean barbecue restaurants have become top choices for young people.
Where to eat
Matthew's Brazil Barbecue [Authentic Brazilian BBQ]
Branch One: 3rd floor in Tong Luo Wan Department Store Building at No. 80, Jiefang Lu, Zhongshan District
Branch Two: No. 95, Lianhe Lu, Shahekou District
Feature: Authentic Brazilian BBQ
King Hans Barbecue
Address: No. 31, Yan'an Lu, Zhongshan District
Latin American BBQ, buffet, German beers, band performances
Yi Xin Barbecue [Korean]
Branch One: Nanshan Lu
Branch Two: Tangshan Lu
The inexpensive snacks are always on the travel itinerary of most travelers. Sampling the local snacks is a way of eating and exploring the local life. The most popular snack here is Men Zi and Salted Fish and Corn Pancake. Other delicacies include dumplings, thin pancakes rolled with smoked meat, tea eggs and bean-milk and so on. The kebab-style grills of beef, mutton and local sleeve-fish are also very popular among street diners.
This is a traditional local snack. A protein-rich snack coagulated from an extract of pachyrhizus (something like potatoes) is cut into pieces and fried on a pan to create a crisp cover. A mixed seasoning of smashed garlic, sesame, and sauces is added on eating. Many small snack stalls provide this.
Packed Men Zi can be found on most supermarket shelves in the city.
Salted Fish and Corn Pancake (Yan Xu Bing'zi)
This title actually refers to two things: the baked salted fish is served with a kind of crisp corn pancake. Legend goes that fishermen going out fishing in the morning couldn't return home to have lunch and so they baked the fresh fish to eat with the pancakes, the habit being passed down from generation to generation from the early days.
Shuangshengyuan, a time-honored seafood restaurant, is the best place to taste this.
Where to eat
There are two famous dining streets in the city. One is the dining street in Tianjin Walking Street to north of Zhongshan Square and east to Shengli (Victory) Square. You can take Tourist Bus 801 (B) and K901 at the railway station to reach there. The other one can be found in Hei Shi Jiao opposite the Distance Bus Station. Bus 081, K901 and Bus 202 can reach there.
Dongbei (Northeastern) Cuisine
Situated at the end of China's Liaodong Peninsular, Dalian is serves geographically as the door to the Dongbei (northeastern) Area in China. The 'rough' Dongbei Cuisine, which is famous for its heavy tastes and large quantities dominate the usual dining market of the citizens. Thick pork meat is braised with a variety of potatoes, mushrooms, vermicelli and other vegetables into a big dish simply called 'Braised Dish'. It is a famous local food of the cold Dongbei area, which people eat in the cold winter and is offered by most restaurants in Dalian.
Other Dongbei dishes including spiced pig's legs, duck necks, chicken livers and all sorts of coarse grain food are also very popular. In recent year, these 'rough' dishes have been refined to have a delicate appearance and are heading many menus.
Where to eat
Da Di Chun
It is renowned for the good service. They promise that all dishes can be served within twenty minutes, which is normally impossible in many other restaurants during peak meal periods. Thin pancakes rolled with sauced meat and vegetable dishes are their signature dish.
Address: Huanghe Lu
In the area close to Passenger Port near Renmin Lu are many Korean restaurants providing authentic Korean barbecue and featuring Cold Noodles. For Korean snacks, you can go to a food shop on the 1st floor of Shengli Department Store near the Dalian Railway Station.
There are also a wealth of western standbys including Papa's, Mike's Pizza Cafe, Pizz Hut and Pizza King, which includes strange toppings such as peaches and pears. McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dairy Queen top a long list of fast-food joints.
There are many choices in the Russian flavor street near Zhongshan Square.
A Western buffet with a range of sea food, beefsteak, lamb steak, Italian noodles, Japanese Sushi, Chinese meal and desserts. It is reputed as the best of its kind in the city.
Address: District C, Xinghai Square (in the southwestern part of the city)
American pizza chain restaurant with authentic pizza, salad, drinks and sweets
Cost: Buffet salad 28 yuan/p.p. pizza (9 inch) 22yuan, (12 inch) 85yuan
Address: Shengli (Victory) Square
First Branch: No. 122, You Hao Square
Second Branch: Renmin Lu