To Eat or Not To Eat? Chinese Street Food in China

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Today is Israel’s Independence Day; on this special day all Israelis go outside to the parks, the streets, their friends’ houses and do “Al Haesh” (BBQ)! The moment you leave your house on that day you sense this amazing smell of fresh meat on fire!

So I decided to write my next blog about the street food from where I live now, in Beijing. It will never smell the same, but man there are some weird smells that I would never thought I will sense in my life!

When I first came to China everybody warn me about the street food:

  1. There is too much MSG in the food!
  2. Too much oil
  3. The oil is not good as it was pumped out of the sewage
  4. Too spicy
  5. Unusual meat parts (chicken legs, bones, tongues and so on)
  6. Watch out the meat! You can have dog meat when you won’t have a clue about it!
  7. Living animals!
  8. Outrages prices for foreigners!
  9. It’s nothing like the Chinese food you familiar with from western countries.
  10. Basically, your stomach can’t handle it and you’ll never know what you goanna get.

I don’t consider myself as very open minded when it comes to food, so you have to understand that I was a bit afraid of trying it out after everything I heard..

But, after almost 3 years in China I just had to try out the food, and basically I have two conclusions: 1) some of the things people said to me were bullshit and 2) I wish I had never tried some of the things!

Check out the MUST EAT and MUST NOT EAT of the Chinese street food in China:

Let’s start with the first meal of the day – breakfast:

Eat: I call it “the egg pancake”; this is actually really good, but really heavy for the morning too. It’s a big pancake with vegetables, some sausages and sunny side up egg in the middle. Can be found almost at every other corner in the street.

Drink: Pomegranate juice. It’s actually a new trend in Beijing, one guy started it and then everywhere you go you see a guy selling the juice from his “multi-functional bike”.

NOT EAT: Sea horse and starfish on a stick, I’m sorry, but they are just too cute to be eaten 🙂 Also the scorpions, they are still alive!

NOT DRINK: I don’t know what it is, but it’s just look to chemical for me… Something that Gargamel will drink, or make to kill the Smurfs.

12:00pm every Chinese person stops whatever he/she is doing and goes for Lunch!

Eat: There are so many way to make dumplings: steamed, fried, baked, simmering with many different stuffing inside, such as: pork with Chinese cabbage, pork with garlic chives, pork and shrimp with vegetables, spring onion, garlic chives with scrambled egg, eggplant and so on… And there is also all kinds of dumpling – Wonton, dim sum, tangyuan , zongzi , jiaozi and the list is long… most of the dumpling that I had tasted really great, it just took me a while to know how to say in Chinese what I like and don’t like 🙂

You can also enjoy a nice chicken, beef and lamp skewer, but I wouldn’t take a chance with other kind of meats…

DRINK: this yogurt drink is actually really good and also feels healthy! You can find almost at any grocery store or at the street. Usually they will ask you to drink it at the place you bought it and then return the bottle to them.

NOT EAT: Stinky tofu! The smile was only for the camera, on the inside I was crying!  I’m very brave in this picture, but trust me when you smell it, you just want to run away!!!

NOT DRINK: Coca Cola 可口可乐, because first it doesn’t taste the same and second, come on, you’re in China… you have to drink something more special than that… try some tea.

Afternoon snack – my favorite!

Eat: You got to love Chestnuts, especially when there’re hot!


This little thing is my first love in China. It sounds terrible but I just love it! It is a small sesame fried dough ball that has sweet red bean paste on the inside. It is really good!

And my best part of the day is when I come back home from work during the winter. I’d buy hot sweet potato on the street and when I arrive home I’d put some sour cream on top of it… Yummy!

NOT TO EAT: food that is somehow connected to electricity! (and I have no idea what it is!)

We’re getting to the end of the day – Dinner!

EAT: spring rolls are really nice, I would recommend to take the veggie ones (you can’t go wrong there).

Hot soup with meatballs and coriander on top, that actually reminds me of my grandma’s traditional Jewish Matzah ball soup.


Hot corn straight from the fire!

NOT TO EAT: Octopus legs in a bowl.

For Dessert: Definitely try the sugarcoated sweet small “apples” on a stick! There are not really apples and actually not super healthy but I will still try it… The cotton candy is the same I think everywhere in the world and it’s always yummy!

The fruits on the street are always nice. Just check it before you buy, because sometimes the rotten pieces are hidden at the bottom and the pretty ones are at the top.

And last but not least- night time. When the weather is nice there are some streets in Beijing where there are tables and small chairs outside on the sidewalk and they are doing BBQ. Like you already know I wouldn’t try the meat although it could be really good but I will recommend sitting down with your friends on the street and cracking some sunflower seeds on the floor, feeling like a real native 🙂

Enjoy, good luck and Happy Birthday Israel!

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Meirav 梅花 Shacked - The Israeli girl beyond the Great FireWall (of China). Currently living and working in Beijing, China for the last 3 years, Meirav is involve in the local Chinese online & social media scenes as well as the conventional global platforms. Meirav loves a good 'night out' at a chic KTV (karaoke) club as well as getting lost in Beijing old town alleys (Hutongs) while posting her adventures on Instagram (@meimarko). She might just be the only blonde who commutes daily in the Beijing subway, along with 12 million other Chinese passengers.

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