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What to eat

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The story of noodles

Noodles are a very popular food in China. Across China’s vast expanses, noodles are enjoyed in a massive number of ways; over 1200 types of noodles are consumed in the country daily.

A “Noodles Culture Festival” was held in 2013, where a list of China’s Top 10 noodles were announced, based on their popularity. Let’s find out what makes these noodles so special.

No.1 Lanzhou’s hand pulled noodles 兰州拉面

Origin: Lanzhou, Gansu

Price: Under 15 RMB

Lanzhou’s hand pulled noodles, also known as Lanzhou Clear Soup Beef Ramen, is a Halal delicacy of the Lanzhou region in Gansu Province, with a history of 200 years. It is a kind of hand pulled noodle, served with beef, chilies, white turnip, and finally beef soup cooked with secret recipes. It is usually enjoyed for breakfast or lunch by locals.

No.2 Henan’s stewed noodles 河南烩面

Origin: Zhengzhou, Henan

Price: 15-20 RMB

With a proud history of 4,000 years, Henan stewed noodles is a traditional dish that combines all the elements of meat, vegetable, soup and noodles. It is much loved in Central China for its great taste and affordable price. The chewy noodles and soup are made by stewing lamb bones.

No.3 Beijing’s fried sauce noodles 北京炸酱面

Origin: Beijing

Price: 18-30 RMB

Popular in Beijing and nearby, this dish is made by mixing noodles with seasonal vegetable toppings and fried sauce. The veggie toppings are usually soy beans, celery, carrot, or bean sprouts. This is Beijing’s traditional snack and remains a favorite of the locals.

No.4 Shanxi’s sliced noodles 山西刀削面

Origin: Taiyuan, Shanxi

Price: 15-25 RMB

Sliced noodles originated in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province in the 12th century, and has long enjoyed the title of “King of Noodles”. The noodle strips are peeled with a knife, hence its name “Knife Peeled Noodles”. Smooth and chewy, soft yet never sticky, the noodles possess a unique texture. It is served with many other ingredients, among which tomato sauce, minced meat and mutton soup are the most popular.

No.5 Hangzhou’s Pian Er Chuan 杭州片儿川

Origin: Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Price: 18 RMB

Hangzhou is home to many great snacks. But when you’re there, the one snack that you cannot miss is Pian Er Chuan (“slices in river” literally). Dating back about one hundred years, the dish’s trick is the taste of the pickled vegetables and bamboo shoot slices, which linger on your palate for a very long time.

No.6 Kunshan’s Aozao noddles 昆山奥灶面

Origin: Kunshan, Jiangsu

Price: 10 RMB

Aozao noddles embodies the gourmet spirit of China’s waterside regions. From the local waters come the red oil, soup base and ingredients, which are mixed with the ideal stiffness of the Long Xu Mian (“Dragon Beard Noodles” 龙须面). Aozao noddles’ two most popular variants are Red Oil Fried Fish Noodles and White Soup Braised Meat Noodles.

No.7 Zhenjiang’s pot cover noodles 镇江锅盖面

Origin: Zhenjiang, Jiangsu

Price: 15 RMB

Pot cover noodles is Zhenjiang’s own special gourmet item. When boiling the noodles, a wooden wok lid floats on the boiling water, hence its name (“Wok Lid Noodles”). The special noodles used for this dish are called “Jumpy Noodles”, which have tiny pores that absorb condiments quickly and offer a chewy texture.

No.8 Sichuan’s dandan noddles 四川担担面

Origin: Chengdu, Sichuan

Price: 20 RMB

Dandan noddles is Chengdu’s signature snack, dating back one hundred years. In its early days, the snack was sold by mobile vendors carrying the food with a shoulder pole (a “Dandan” in Chinese ).

No.9 Wuhan’s hot dry noodles 武汉热干面

Origin: Wuhan, Hubei

Price: 5 RMB

Hot dry noodles is Wuhan’s beloved specialty, and popular throughout Hubei Province as well. The dish boasts smooth and chewy noodles, thick sauce and an enticing smell—all reasons why it’s so appetizing. Hot dry noodles has only a bit of soup, hence you’ll see many locals enjoying it on the go.

No. 10 Yanji’s cold noodles 延吉冷面

Origin: Yanji, Jilin

Price: 18-25 RMB

Yanji’s cold noodles are the traditional delicacy of China’s ethnic Korean population. Boiled soba noodles are chilled in cold water, and then mixed with chilled beef soup, Kimchi, beef and apple slices. The sweet and sour soup plus the delicious chilled soba prove to be a great antidote for the hot summer.

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