Henan Food – Cuisine of Henan in Central China

Henan food is the cuisine of Henan Province that is located in central China. Henan cuisine is not preferable to a single taste, but all five tastes, sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty tastes in harmony. It has a variety of dishes, including stewed food, fried food, soups, snacks, and wheaten food. The famous Henan dishes include Carp with Fried Noodles in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Grilled Head and Tail of Black Carp, Bianjing Roasted Duck, Stewed Noodles with Mutton, Spicy Soup (Hulatang) and so on.

Chinese Name: 豫菜/河南菜 yù cài / hé nán cài
English Names: Henan cuisine, Yu cuisine
Popular in: China’s Henan Province
Time of Origin: late Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC)
Flavor: a moderate and harmonious flavor of sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty
Famous Henan Dishes: Carp with Fried Noodles in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Grilled Head and Tail of Black Carp, Peony Swallow Dish, Bianjing Roasted Duck, Stewed Noodles with Mutton
Famous Snacks: Spicy Soup (Hulatang), Baked Wheat Cake, Egg Pie Cake, Fried Jelly, Kaifeng Soup Dumplings
Henan Food

Origin & Development of Henan Cuisine

Henan cuisine has an extremely long history. In the late Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC), the Henan dishes had formed a whole system of banquet. At the beginning of Shang Dynasty (17th century BC - 1046 BC), the then prime minister Yiyin, the originator of Chinese cooking, came up with the key idea to season Henan food – all the taste in a harmony, which became the basic theory for Chinese cooking later.

Up to Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127 AD), Henan cuisine reached its peak moment as the capital city was set in Kaifeng, Henan. At that time, many snacks were invented, and varied fried dishes appeared for frying skills were more matured. Meanwhile, Henan food was divided into five kinds: dishes in imperial court, in high classes, in marketplaces, in temples and in folks.

After the fall of Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279 AD), Henan cuisine declined. Based on original Henan food in imperial court, in high classes, in markets and in folks, contemporary Henan cuisine gradually developed and evolved into what it is now with local ingredients.

Features of Henan Food – All Tastes in Harmony

Based on the ideas of Mean and Harmony, Henan food chefs always insist on the tradition of making different flavors existing harmoniously and moderately in one dish, instead of featuring on a single taste. As Henan is located in central China, Henan cuisine recipes are influenced by both northern China cuisines and the southern cuisines. The ingredients cover a wide range and are select strictly.

Special Cooking Techniques

Henan cuisine takes the advantages of other cuisines all over China, as so to combine the cooking style of both north and south. There are more than 50 cooking methods in Henan cuisine recipes, among which grilling, stewing, deep-frying, quick-frying and cooking in soy sauce are frequently used. Especially, the grilled Henan dishes are the specialty. While stir-frying, the high heat is applied at most times. Yu cuisine takes cutting and slicing skills seriously as well. For example, almost all the ingredients of the famous dish Peony Swallow Dish should be cut into shreds.

The Most Famous Dishes in Henan Cuisine


Carp with Fried Noodles in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Carp with Fried Noodles

This is a traditional dish in Kaifeng of Henan Province, combining thin noodles and deep-fried carp from Yellow River. It is in a bordeaux red color, and is sweet and sour with a little salty flavor.


Grilled Head and Tail of Black Carp

Grilled Head and Tail of Black Carp

Originated in Kaifeng, the food is grilled with head, tail and some fish meat of black carp. It tastes salty and a little sweet. Put a piece into mouth and suck, the meat and bones would separate easily.


Peony Swallow Dish

Peony Swallow Dish

As white radish, sea cucumbers, sleeve-fish and chicken are main ingredients, it is well-designed to look like a peony floating on the soup. It tastes sour and spicy with thick and fresh soup.


Bianjing Roasted Duck

Bianjing Roasted Duck

Cooked with duck, honey and pickled cabbages, Bianjing Roasted Duck is salty and sweet with crisp skin, tender duck meat and persimmon red color. It is fat but not greasy.


Stewed Noodles with Mutton

Stewed Noodles with Mutton

The dish has a salty and spicy flavor with the deictic nourishing effect, especially in winter, as noodles, vermicelli, sliced cooked mutton, and other side ingredients are stewed in mutton soup.


Spicy Soup (Hulatang)

Spicy Soup

Spicy Soup is a famous snack that originated in Henan. It tastes numb and spicy with mutton or beef loafs, gluten, vermicelli, dried daylily roots, peanuts and sheep bone soup as ingredients.


Menu of Henan Food

English Chinese Pinyin
Carp with Fried Noodles in Sweet and Sour Sauce 鲤鱼焙面 lǐ yú bèi miàn
Grilled Head and Tail of Black Carp 煎扒青鱼头尾 jiān pá qīng yú tóu wěi
Peony Swallow Dish (Luoyang Yan Cai) 洛阳燕菜 luò yáng yàn cài
Bianjing Roasted Duck 汴京烤鸭 biàn jīng kǎo yā
Stewed Noodles with Mutton 羊肉烩面 yáng ròu huì miàn
Spicy Soup (Hulatang) 胡辣汤 hú là tāng
Grilled Fish Maw 扒广肚 pá guǎng dù
Onions Grilled Mutton 葱扒羊肉 cōng pá yáng ròu
Egg Pie Cake 鸡蛋灌饼 jī dàn guàn bing
Daokou Braised Chicken 道口烧鸡 dào kǒu shāo jī


Best Henan Cuisine Restaurants in China

Zhenbutong Restaurant
Chinese Name:真不同饭店
No.359, East Zhongzhou Road, Laocheng District, Luoyang
No.18, Zhenghe Road, Luolong District, Luoyang

Henan Food House
Chinese Name:河南食府
Location: No. 25, Renmin Road, Jinshui District, Zhengzhou

The First Restaurant
Chinese Name:第一楼
No. 6, West Di'anmen Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
No. 276, Dongsi North Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing

Bowangpo Restaurant
Chinese Name:博望坡
Xuhui Sun Moon Light Center, No.33, Caobao Road, Shanghai
No.258, Caoxi Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai

4 Subgroups of Henan Cuisine

There are four major styles of Henan food depending on areas:

In middle and eastern Henan, in particular Kaifeng, the food are traditional, and the grilled dishes are the typical.

In western Henan, centered in Luoyang, the taste of food is a little sour. Luoyang's Water Banquet is well-known and has 24 dishes in total, including 8 cold dishes, 4 hot dishes with 2 side dishes respectively, and 4 final dishes to indicate the end of banquet. Those dishes are rich in various ingredients as well as nutrition.

In Xinyang, which is on behalf of southern Henan, the stewed dishes are popular, and the flavor is a little spicy.

As to northern Henan, the dishes, represented by those in Xinxiang and Anyang, have a thick flavor with local specialties used. There are also not a few cooked wheaten food in northern Henan.

- Last updated on May. 30, 2022 -
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)