Chengdu is a gorgeous city, and I sighed as the lukewarm trickle in our room washed away the literal human filth that had been caked to my ankles on the ride there. Now that I was certain that my hands were not going to give me dysentery as I ate, it was time to go exploring, and what delicious exploration it was.
'china' on Serious Eats
It's difficult to type effectively right now, when your laptop is balanced on a single knee. Why don't I put my knees together and place my computer in my lap like a normal traveling-writer, you may ask? Well, if I were to do that, I'd end up putting my shoes in the puddle of human urine on the floor in front of me, duh. But we'll get to that.
Want to know the secret to eating well and cheap in China without having to speak a lick of Chinese? Walk into any loud, raucous restaurant, look for the table that looks like its having the most fun (in this case it was easy, as one table yelled a toast at us as soon as we walked into the joint), point at what they're eating, and point at your belly.
Almost exactly a year ago today after three and a half decades of East Coast life, my wife Adri and I packed up our New York apartment and set out on the vacation of a lifetime. In the second installment of my Asia travel diaries, we learn that indoor voices do not exist in China, and that rou jia bing and liangpi are the Xi'an version of a burger and fries.
Almost exactly a year ago today after three and a half decades of East Coast life, my wife Adri and I packed up our New York apartment and set out on the vacation of a lifetime. Here is the first in a series of travel pieces tracking my three-month trip around Asia.
Shanghai is a magnificent, pulsing magnet for migrants from all over China, and that diversity has made it the country's street food epicenter. Let's just say it's enough to overwhelm the senses, albeit in the best possible way. These are 14 of the city's most popular, not-to-be-missed dishes, from local specialties to dishes born elsewhere in China but no less beloved by the city's locals.
Asparagus isn't exactly a Chinese ingredient, but that doesn't mean that it can't find a comfortable home in Chinese food. I've got no doubt that if asparagus were to grow in the cool, misty mountains near Chengdu, that we'd see it served as a cold green appetizer or side dish on menus in Sichuan. This recipe—cold and crunchy asparagus tossed with firm tofu in a fiery sweet-hot-sour vinaigrette—is really inspired by the host of cold or warm appetizers you find in Sichuan that make use of roasted chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and vinegar.
Chinese hot pot is one of the ultimate communal dining experiences: diners sit around a table, dipping prepared meats, seafood, and vegetables into simmering broths to quickly cook before eating. All that's required are a few key pieces of equipment and all the ingredients prepped right. Here's how to host a hot pot feast at home.
Located at the terminus of the Silk Road and at one time the cultural and political capitol of China, the city of Xi'an in Shaanxi province has one of the more interesting culinary histories in China, in no small part due to the influence of its large Muslim population.
As any traveler will tell you, it's the little differences that make a place seem foreign, and often these trifles are exasperating and exhilarating at the same time.
Though Chongqing Province and the city of Chongqing itself are no longer part of Sichuan Province (they split in the '90s), they share a culinary and cultural backbone. It's a foundation built on the slow, smoldering burn of dried chilies, the pungent bite of raw garlic, and mouth-numbing handfuls of citrus-scented Sichuan peppercorns, all balanced with dashes of black vinegar and more peanuts than you ever thought you could eat.
Ever since having my first taste of a Xiao Long Bao—variously referred to as "soup dumplings" or "juicy steamed buns" on American Chinese menus—I've yearned to taste them at the source in Shanghai. But it turns out that XLB are only half of the soup dumping story.
I haven't gotten around to naming the Seven Culinary Wonders of the World, but Peking duck would be high in the running for one of those coveted slots.
When outsiders try to learn about tea, they're usually stymied by the industry's mindboggling complexity, and a marketplace rife with misinformation and counterfeit product doesn't do much to help. That's why I've made the journey to one of China's tea capitals: to learn how and why this little leaf from a plain-looking shrub drives a whole economy wild.
KFC in China has a new burger on their menu...if you can even call it that.
We boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway in Moscow on a foggy, freezing February night. When we disembarked in Beijing, it was a bright March afternoon, and we had traveled more than 4,800 miles. Here's what we ate along the way.
Available for a limited time at McDonald's China is the German Sausage Double Beef Burger featuring two beef patties, two sausages, and mustard.
Here's the breakdown: The meal always starts with a cold appetizer plate. Expensive dishes such as shark fin, abalone, jumbo shrimp and scallops are typical as an indication of prosperity. And there is almost always a whole fish, chicken, duck or pig present. A whole animal represents completeness and luck.
Meet Lifen Yang, a young woman who's part of an effort to bring healthy and organic food to Kunming, a city in the Yunnan Province of China.
I'm a big fan of rooftop films and have made a point of sharing them in videos in order to share what rooftop amazingness is possible. It may be old hat in America, but in China, where food scares and the dangers of pesticides and pollution are only beginning to show their true colors, the new farming movement is just blossoming.