Mapo tofu: A memorable mapo tofu packs a boatload of zing -- salty, peppery and spicy flavors should all hit the taste buds. This famed Sichuan dish is most commonly cooked with minced pork or beef along with the all-important tofu. Click on for more delicious Chinese foods.
Xiaolongbao: Hugely popular both in and outside China, xiaolongbao, also called xiaolong tangbao (translated as small basket soup bun), is a mix of soup and pork packed inside a thin dumpling wrapper. The soupy dumpling can also be filled with crab meat and crab roe.
Congee: Congee, a simmered, mashed rice soup, is believed to be great for the digestive system. It's comfort food for many Chinese, whether in sickness or in health.
Hot and sour soup: A bowl of hot and sour soup should have a balance of sourness (from vinegar) and spiciness (from peppers). Shreds of tofu, Chinese mushrooms, wood ears and bamboo shoots are some of the common ingredients found in this thick soup.
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Peking duck: This world-famous dish has been captivating stomachs -- including those of ancient Chinese emperors -- for centuries. It features crispy duck skin, juicy meat, radish, cucumber, scallions and sweet bean sauce wrapped neatly in a thin pancake.
Steamed pork belly with preserved mustard greens: The tender, well-braised pork belly is irresistible, but the star of this Hakkan dish is mei cai, a dry, pickled Chinese mustard that gives the hearty stew its slightly sour and salty taste.
Dim sum: Barbecued pork buns, prawn dumplings and sweet custard buns are some of the best dishes to try during a dim sum meal.
Kungpao chicken: One of the most famous Chinese dishes, Kungpao chicken is made by stir-frying diced chicken pieces with scallions, ginger, peppercorns, chili and deep-fried peanuts.
Steamed fish: It may look simple, but steamed fish is a difficult art to master. The number of minutes -- or seconds -- you should steam a fish is dictated by the type and size of a fish, as well as the strength of your own stove. Cantonese steamed fish is usually served in some sweetened soy sauce and scallions.
Cross-the-bridge rice noodles: Legend has it that cross-the-bridge rice noodles were invented by a loving wife who would travel across a bridge to deliver her husband his daily lunches. To keep the food warm she packed a pot of scalding hot broth, along with the noodles and raw ingredients. When the husband was ready to eat, she'd cook all the ingredients by pouring them into the hot broth.
Chaozhou beef balls: The Chinese city of Chaozhou in eastern Guangdong province is famous for its beef, including dishes like beef hot pot and these super bouncy beef balls.
Sheng jian bao: Bao -- a steamed roll filled with a variety of ingredients including meat or vegetables -- come in many shapes and sizes. Inthis version, the small bao is filled with pork and broth that is pan-fried with scallions and topped with white sesame seeds.
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Dumplings: Steamed, boiled or pan-fried (as potstickers), dumplings -- or jiaozi -- pack a full punch of carbs, protein and vegetables in one mouthful.
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Wenchang chicken: While Hainanese chicken rice isn't actually from China's Hainan province (it was first served in Malaysia), the dish was inspired by the tropical island province and its famous Wenchang chicken, which is prized for its thin skin, tender meat and sweet flavor.
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Roasted goose: Once you've tried a Cantonese-style woodfire oven-roasted goose, there's no going back. Some restaurants will use special types of wood, like camphor wood or lychee wood, to give the the bird a unique smoky taste.
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Steamed fish head with chopped salted chili: No other dish represents Hunan cuisine as well as steamed fish heads served with chopped salted chili (duo jiao yu tou). Duo jiao, a staple relish in Hunanese homes, is made with chili peppers that are dried, diced then preserved in a jar of salt, ginger, garlic and baijiu (Chinese liquor) for at least a week.
Chaozhou cold crab: Seaside Chaozhou is known for no-frills seafood dishes that maximize the flavors of the fresh ingredients. Among these is Chaozhou-style cold crab.
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Vermicelli with duck blood: Nanjing, China's duck capital, is where you'll find this tasty bowl of noodle soup. Made with bone broth, blood curds and bits of offal, such as liver and gizzards, this dish fully utilizes every part of the duck to deliver incredibly intense flavors.
Cantonese herbal soups: Cantonese people believe that certain soups can provide balance in the body. Made with various seasonal ingredients, these therapeutic soups are simmered for hours to maximize healing qualities and deliciousness.
Fried rice: Whether it's an elevated version made with diced abalone and truffles, or a medley of leftover ingredients, every good version of classic fried rice shares two important ingredients -- dry but succulent rice and wok hei (also known as the "breath of the wok").
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Sweet rice balls: Ningbo is one of the best places to sample these round, mochi-like dessert balls, called tangyuan. The soft, pillowy exterior is made with sticky rice while the filling is made of black sesame, sugar and lard.