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What to eat

Food & Drink / What to eat

Top 7 Nanjing dishes you mustn’t miss

By Minjun Xu

September 6

Nanjing cuisine, also known as Jinling cuisine, originates from the ancient Qin Dynasty. Its delicate taste and exquisite cooking methods have attracted people in this nation obsessed with food for thousands of years.

Nanjing cuisine, also known as Jinling cuisine, originates from the ancient Qin Dynasty. Its delicate taste and exquisite cooking methods have attracted people in this nation obsessed with food for thousands of years.

Once the capital of several Chinese dynasties, Nanjing has a food scene befitting its distinguished history. The city is especially known for its duck, so make sure to be on the prowl for fowl in its many culinary forms.

1. Duck Blood and Vermicelli Soup

Duck blood and vermicelli soup [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/ Liu Jianhua]
Duck blood and vermicelli soup [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/ Liu Jianhua]
One of the most famous Nanjing delicacies, duck blood and vermicelli soup is popular with both locals and people from other parts of China. It consists of vermicelli soaked in duck soup, cubes of duck blood, deep-fried tofu and vegetables.

Tasting guide: Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌档) on Shiziqiao Food Street serves most local dishes and is known for its duck blood soup.

2. Pan-fried Beef Dumplings

Niurou guotie [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
Niurou guotie [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
These pan-fried beef dumplings are considered one of Nanjing’s Eight Qinhuai treasures (秦淮八绝), namely eight renowned traditional snacks in Nanjing. Stuffed with ground beef, diced ginger and onions, the dumplings are fried until golden and crispy.

Tasting guide: Liji Hala Restaurant (李记清真馆) near the entrance of Dading Lane is one of the most popular places for the locals to eat pan-fried beef dumplings.

3. Marinated Bean Curd

Marinated Bean Curd [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
Marinated Bean Curd [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
While not technically a Nanjing dish, marinated bean curd, found in almost every local restaurant, is a must-try food. Firm tofu is deep-fried then stewed in soup with bean sauce, shrimps, sugar and anise.

Tasting guide: A lot of street stands serve marinated bean curd, but we recommend the one from Longmen Feizhua (龙门飞爪), a grill house on Shiziqiao Food Street.

4. Red Bean Soup with Sweet Rice Balls

Red Bean Soup with Sweet Rice Balls [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
Red Bean Soup with Sweet Rice Balls [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
These little sweet rice balls in red bean soup are the twin brothers of Tangyuan (汤圆), which are sticky rice balls stuffed with various fillings. The soup with sugared red bean paste goes perfectly well with the tender, self-melt sticky rice balls.

Tasting guide: Head to the Lianhu Rice Cake Shop (莲湖糕团店) on Gongyuan West Street, Qinhuai District, and get your bowl of this traditional dessert for only 6RMB.

5. Nanjing Salted Duck

Najing Salted Duck [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
Najing Salted Duck [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Liu Jianhua]
People in Nanjing love duck. Salted duck, with a history of hundreds of years, is one of the Nanjing classics and is less greasy than most other duck dishes.

Tasting guide: The renowned Plum Garden Restaurant (梅苑) in Jinling Hotel offers salted duck marinated with special brine.

6. Sweet-scented Osmanthus Taro

Sweet-scented Osmanthus Taro [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
Sweet-scented Osmanthus Taro [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
If you are a fan of osmanthus, this popular street snack is perfect. The dessert is made of diced taros stewed in osmanthus syrup and lotus root starch. Surprisingly, it’s not overly sweet.

Tasting guide: You can find sweet-scented osmanthus taro at street stands near Fuzimiao and in many local restaurants, such as Nanjing Impressions, Nanjinger’s Kitchen (南京食朝汇), and Liu Changxing Noodle Restaurant (刘长兴面馆).

7. Plum Cake

Plum Cake [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
Plum Cake [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Yang Suping]
Originating in the Ming Dynasty, plum cake is a traditional Nanjing dessert which has been popular for a long time in the Jiangnan region, the south of the lower reaches of Yangtze River. The cake is baked in a plum-shaped mold and filled with stuffings ranging from bean paste to minced pork. The colorful dried fruit toppings make it even more attractive.

Tasting guide: Many street stands still offer this, but for an authentic taste, hit the corner of Maitai Street and Tongjia Lane for the delicacy by Master Zuo (左师傅梅花糕).

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