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When it comes to have a tour to Zhangjiajie, the food there never ranks on the top of your travel list. What let you hop on a plane and go are the otherworldly Hallelujah Mountains of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, world-class Glass Bridge in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and the thrilling Cliff-hanging Glass Walkway on the mountain top of Tianmen Mountain. The food in Zhangjiajie is somewhat like a warm and unique gift for tourists. Though you didn’t add it to your tour plan, you will get such a surprise when you arrive.
Zhangjiajie is situated in the northwest edge of Hunan Province, China. Hunan Cuisine, with an abbreviation name of Xiang Cuisine, is one of the 8 Famous Cuisines of China. It is well-known for its fragrant, sour and spicy flavor. Zhangjiajie Cuisine also belongs to Xiang Cuisine, but it adds more ethnic features in, because Zhangjiajie is also home to three major ethnic groups - the Tujia, Bai and Miao. Most of the specialty dishes in Zhangjiajie are cooked with fresh local ingredients, and once moved to other places, the original local flavor will be different in taste. Therefore, have a try about the unique local dishes when you touring Zhangjiajie. What to eat? This guide will introduce you the most popular Zhangjiajie Food you can have a taste!
• Pinyin: sān xià guō
• Price (CNY): from 60
Zhangjiajie Mixed Pot (San Xia Guo) is the most notable dish of Zhangjiajie. “San” in Chinese means “three”, and "Xia Guo" means "cook together". When the dish was firstly created, it mixed three kinds of materials together, including rabbit, bacon and dried bean curd, hence the name. With time goes by, the dish has improved a lot to suit most tastes and preferences. Instead of cooking with only rabbit, bacon and dried bean curd, currently San Xia Guo gives foodies more choices. You can also add other treasures in, like salted pork, walnut, pork intestines, fresh vegetables, etc.
San Xia Guo can be griddle cooked and also cooked as a soup. Both Griddle Cooked San Xia Guo and San Xia Guo Soup are presented in Chinese-style pans. So don’t be surprised when the waiter or the chef put a big pan in front of you. It is the dish you ordered. All the small restaurants in Zhangjiajie can offer such a delicious dish for you. You can also find it at some of the hotels.
Zhangjiajie Mixed Pot
Tujia Minority Preserved Pork Dish
• Pinyin:là ròu
• Price (CNY): from 38
The dish is cooked with local thick fragrant cured meat with salty and hot flavor. Preserved Pork is popular in Zhangjiajie because it can be stored for a long time and the locals can make delicious dishes with these meats at any time they want.
There is more than one way to cook the preserved pork meats. And the most popular way is cooking with local chili.
If you’ve never tasted a homemade slice of preserved meat, you’re missing out on a world of flavors and textures that have stood the test of time. Order such a dish on the day you arriving, and then you can also get close to the local life immediately.
• Pinyin: mǎ dié ěr bīng gùn
• Price (CNY): about 138
Umbilicaria Esculenta, or called Shier by the locals, is a kind of edible lichen hidden deep in the mountains of Zhangjiajie. To get this precious gift from nature, the locals have to collect them by climbing steep cliffs. If you are lucky enough, you could meet one of those brave heroes when you hiking in Wulingyuan Scenic Area. He is hanging on the cliff and moving, with only a long rope tied with to his waist.
Stewed Chicken and Duck with Shier is one of the best dishes to warm you up during the winter season and also some cold nights. Besides, it is also one of the several dishes without spicy flavor. If you gave tried some classic spicy Zhangjiajie food and looking for some light food, this is the best recommended.
Stewed Chicken and Duck with Umbilicaria Esculenta
Loach Stewed with Tofu
• Pinyin: ní qiū zuān dòu fu
• Price (CNY): about 68
This dish has an interesting Chinese name - Niuqiu Zuan Doufu, which literally means the loach digging into the tofu. Loach is a kind of small fishes with great nutritional value. The dish gets its interesting name because the locals will allow the loaches living with fresh and tender tofu first before cooking.
Loaches and tofu are the main materials of Loach Stewed with Tofu. The locals stew the tofu together with the loaches and add peppercorn, shallot, gourmet power, chopped ginger, sauce and so on other seasonings. The smooth taste of tofu and the soft taste of loach make this dish extremely popular in Zhangjiajie. If you are going to Zhangjiajie and looking for something to east without red and spicy chili, you can have a try of Loach Stewed with Tofu.
• Pinyin: suān cù yú
• Price (CNY): from 68
Among the Tujia and Miao People, there is a kind of little-known but delicious food with unique local flavor - Sour Fried Fish. This dish is not using vinegar to create its sour flavor but the magic of nature.
The locals put the fresh fishes with rice powder into a jar and seal up the jar until these fishes have a sour taste. And then fry these sour fishes with local tea oil, creating the delicious Sour Fried Fish. Such a kind of snack doesn't taste fatty or smell fishy. It is golden in color, tender on the outside, sweet and sour, and delicious. Besides, it can be stored for a long time. Therefore, you could not only try it in the restaurants and the stall of Zhangjiajie, but also bring some back to your hotel as a snack.
Sour Fried Fish
• Pinyin: xiě dòu fǔ
• Price (CNY): from 28
Blood Tofu is a special dish of Tujia Minority Groups. Tujia people mix tofu, pork, pork blood and some other seasonings such as pepper, chili and sault together, and then rub them into many small balls. Let these balls smoked and baked until yellow. When you order such a dish, the chef will cut one of the balls into slices and cook them with fresh pepper and chili.
The chewy and fragrant dish is an excellent choice served with Chinese liquor or fizzy drinks. It can be easily found at the local’s family gatherings. If you are going to visit Zhangjiajie, remember not forget to have a try.
• Chinese： 葛根粉
• Pinyin: gé gēn fěn
• Price (CNY): about 5
If you type the word “Piermaria” on google, you could get a list of articles telling you the benefits of it. Also, you will get some recommended shopping links of Amazon. Piermaria Lobate is also known by the names Kudzu, Kuzu, Gwat Gun, and Ge Gan. It is a coarse, high-climbing, twining, trailing, perennial vine, containing more than 10 kinds of amino acids and 10 kinds of trace elements needed by human body.
Among the mountainous areas of Zhangjiajie, there grows many Pueraria Lobata. The locals collect them and grind them into powder. And using the powder, they created a snack - Ge Gen Fen. Ge Gen Fen tastes fresh and cool. It is a superstar during the hot summer days, because it is the best way to kill the heat.
Pueraria Lobata Starch
Glutinous Rice Cake (Ciba Cake)
• Chinese： 糍粑
• Pinyin: cí bā
• Price (CNY): from 20
Glutinous Rice Cake is one kind of snack made up of steamed glutinous rice. It needs many steps to make such a snack. Firstly, it requires about 2-3 hours to allow the glutinous rice to soak in thoroughly in water before putting it into a wooden pot to be steamed. After cooking, grind the glutinous rice with a pestle and mortar. After several rounds of hard pounding, divide or cut the rice dough into dozens of egg-sized rice balls or square cakes. This is not the end. Once get the balls or square cakes, the locals may fry or roast them and drizzle with brown sugar and other seasonings.
Glutinous Rice Cake is crispy on the outside with a gooey texture inside. The first bite of the slightly spongy and pleasantly fragrant rice cake has such a delightful mouthfeel. Besides, it can cheer you up after the tiring hiking experience on those mountains in Zhangjiajie.
You can find restaurants in Zhangjiajie downtown, Wulingyuan District Central Area and also near the scenic areas like Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, Tianmen Mountain, etc. Besides, there are many stalls and small restaurants inside Wulingyuan Scenic Area. In the downtown and central area, you could find more reliable brands to eat. And near and inside the scenic area, the restaurants there are smaller but can also provide local dishes.
Usually, you are suggested to have your meal near your hotel or the scenic areas, and then you can have more time and energy to go sightseeing. If you are interested, you could get more info of accommodation in Zhangjiajie at Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie.
Unique Zhangjiajie food is a gift for your Zhangjiajie tour, but not the main highlight. Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hallelujah Mountain, Glass Bridge… There are so many places to visit in this natural world. To better plan your Zhangjiajie tour, you could check the following useful articles to get inspired, including best visit time, transportation, accommodation, map, etc.
Nourished by the five thousand years’ history and multiple nations and regions in the vast land, China’s food culture is more than what words can describe. Rooted in traditional Chinese philosophy, like Yin-Yang and Five Element and Confucianism, Chinese cuisine is beyond the food itself but an artwork of the creative minds. Under the guidance of Traditional Chinese Medicine, most of the Chinese cuisines are healthy and nutritious, pursuing to maintain people’s health, and even help the patients get healed.
Are you wondering about Chinese cooking process? Is that hard? around 100 cooking techniques have been formed over the development of Chinese food culture. The diverse cooking techniques show the wisdom of Chinese people and also help a lot on the sustainable development and reformation of the Chinese cuisines.
To enjoy the authentic Chinese flavour in a right way, Chinese dining etiquette plays a rather important role in Chinese food culture. Getting to know the Chinese etiquette will not only show one’s good self-cultivation and manners, but also help your understand the culture deeply and avoid making taboos accidentally to behave offensively to your Chinese host.
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >