Top 10 Hangzhou Foods You Have to Eat

The Hangzhou food is light and fresh due to its location besides the water and mild climate. Locals like eating fish and shrimps cooked in a plain way so it’s common to see them on the menus of restaurants. When you come to Hangzhou, do not forget to have a taste of the top 10 Hangzhou foods listed below.

1. West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy

 Chinese Name: 西湖醋鱼 xi hu cu yu
 Flavor: fresh, tender, sweet, sour
 Cook Method: instant-boil
The West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy is undoubtedly the most famous one among Hangzhou foods. The fish is elaborately selected. Many restaurants tend to use the grass carp no more than 1kg in weight to keep the tender taste. Nowadays, perches are also used. This dish looks brightly red or brown with the dressing made from vinegar, yellow wine, soy sauce, white refined sugar, and starch water. The fish tastes especially fresh and tender, remaining the original flavor of the raw materials.
Read more: Recipe - How to Make West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy

2. Dongpo Pork

 Chinese Name: 东坡肉 dong po rou
 Flavor: glutinous, salty
 Cook Method: braise
Dongpo Braised Pork is a traditional food in Hangzhou with a long history. It was said to be created by Su Dongpo, a governor and literati from the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) who once lived in this city. Streaky pork is the main ingredient of the dish, with a mixture of seasonings including Huadiao wine, ginger slice, spring onion, rock sugar, and soy sauce. The dish has a special taste, fleshy but not greasy, perfect to go with rice.

3. Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea

 Chinese Name: 龙井虾仁 long jing xia ren
 Flavor: fresh, tender, juicy
 Cook Method: quick-fry
The Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea is a popular Hangzhou food as it creatively combines the two best local products of the city: shrimps and Longjing Tea. It has both the delicate smell of tea and smooth taste of the chewy shrimps. Apart from the unique smell and taste, the dish has a fresh and elegant look, which can whet your appetite.

4. Beggar’s Chicken

 Chinese Name: 叫花童鸡 jiao hua tong ji
 Flavor: salty, tender 
 Cook Method: roast
The Beggar’s Chicken is also one of the traditional Hangzhou dishes. The local chickens, Shaoxing yellow wine, and West Lake lotus leaves are the main ingredients. The chicken is first stuffed with a variety of seasonings, and then wrapped by the lotus leaf. After that, the chef applies mud mixed with salt and alcohol to the wrapped chicken and put it into the stove for three to four hours. The mud is removed before guests after the chicken is being served on the table, keeping the most authentic flavor of the dish.

5. Fish Head Soup with Bean Curd

 Chinese Name: 鱼头豆腐 yu tou dou fu
 Flavor: fresh, tender
 Cook Method: pan-fry, stew
The fish head soup with bean curd is a nutrient Hangzhou food, containing lots of protein. The fish head is pan fried for a little while before being boiled with bean curd. Winter bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and cabbages are the common vegetables to add into the soup. The soup is always served in an earthen pot to keep warm, particularly a nice choice for cold winter.

6. Sister Song’s Fish Broth

 Chinese Name: 宋嫂鱼羹 song sao yu geng
 Flavor: smooth, fresh
 Cook Method: steam, boil
Sister Song’s Fish Broth is a delicate and traditional Hangzhou dish. This dish adopts tender perch or mandarin fish. The fish is firstly steamed and deboned, then boiled accompanied by shredded ham, minced mushroom and bamboo shoots, and chicken soup. The well-cooked Sister Song’s Fish Broth has a taste of crab, therefore it’s also named the Crab-flavor Fish Soup.

7. Noodles with Preserved Vegetables (Pian Er Chuan Noodles)

 Chinese Name: 片儿川面 pian er chuan mian
 Flavor: salty, fresh
 Cook Method: boil
Pian Er Chuan Noodles are the best-known noodles in Hangzhou. Its uniqueness lies in the toppings, which are the mixture of pickled mustard, bamboo shoots, and lean pork. The combination of these preserved vegetables and pork results in a rich flavor and a lingering aftertaste. The best place to savor Pian Er Chuan Noodles is the Kui Yuan Restaurant with a history of more than 100 years.

8. West Lake Water Shield Soup

 Chinese Name: 西湖莼菜汤 xi hu chun cai tang
 Flavor: tender and fresh
 Cook Method: quick boil
The West Lake Water Shield Soup is a unique Hangzhou food. The water shield growing in the West Lake is picked to make this soup, with the companion of shredded ham and chicken breast. The greenness of water shield endows the dish a fresh appearance, thus a good appetizer.

9. Noodles with Quick-Fried Eel Shreds & Shelled Shrimps

 Chinese Name: 虾爆鳝面 xia bao shan mian
 Flavor: salty, chewy
 Cook Method: stir fry, boil
In Hangzhou, you can find many restaurants selling the Noodles with Quick-Fried Eel Shreds & Shelled Shrimps, and the best one among them is the Kui Yuan Restaurant. The eel is cooked immediately after it is slaughtered, so that it tastes very fresh. The shrimps are amazingly tender because of the proper processing before cooking. Boiled in the eel broth, the noodles are chewy with a thick fragrance of eel. 

10. Hangzhou Spiced Soy-Sauce Duck

 Chinese Name: 杭州酱鸭 hang zhou jiang ya
 Flavor: salty, chewy
 Cook Method: pickle with salt and soy-sauce, steam or roast
The duck is a classic dish in Hangzhou. In the past, it is a typical food for the Chinese New Year, but now one can eat it throughout the year. The duck is first salted and sauced in a vat. After a few days, take it out and dry it in the sun. The duck needs to be steamed or roasted before it is served. The cooked duck is dark red in appearance with a rich fragrance. 
- Last updated on Apr. 16, 2020 -
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