Street Foods in Beijing Culture & Cuisine

Food is seriously one of my favourite things about travel. I love trying out new dishes and snacks whenever I’m abroad (and even when I go on a local adventure near home).

While I was in China, there were so many opportunities for me to try out different cuisines, street foods and snacks and I eagerly took every opportunity my stomach allowed (I can only eat so much).

On our morning walk to the metro, we were greeted by a variety of street vendors that sold everything from breakfast soups to baozi to Chinese pancakes and we stopped at a different stall each day we were in Beijing.

At night, we had our pick of night markets to visit where we could purchase a variety of street foods from vendors selling everything from stinky tofu to scorpions (no I didn’t eat these!).

1. Jianbing 煎饼

I’ll start with my favourite street food, jianbing. This is something of a crêpe and breakfast burrito rolled all into one. It all begins with the dough which is spread out thinly over a round grill and then the toppings you choose are added. You can opt to have an egg or two, scallions, coriander, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, lettuce, a wonton cracker or even a hotdog. Each morning I ordered one, I made sure to get it made slightly different than the time before so that I could really enjoy this treat in all its glory.

try-street-foods-1

try-street-foods-13

try-street-foods-5

2. Dumpling Soup 上湯水餃

If you have a bit of time to sit at a table near the street vendor (or even stand near the stall), dumpling soup is a delicious and warming dish you can indulge in. There are quite a few variations on this dish as well, but the one that I enjoyed had tiny shrimp skins, dumplings, and cilantro in a broth.

try-street-foods-14

try-street-foods-12

3. Baozi 包子

These are steamed cooked buns filled with meat and vegetables (typically pork, but really the meat could be anything). The dough is thick and the stuffing is filling.

try-street-foods-11

try-street-foods-6

4. Dried Fruits or Fresh Fruits 水果

Numerous street vendors have a variety of dried or fresh fruits for sale at their stalls and at really affordable prices. There were quite a few fruits that I haven’t seen out in the west and fruits that I don’t typically see dried, so I definitely had to try a few of the new-to-me items. If you’re looking for something really sweet, there are also candied fruits called tanghulu 糖葫芦 that you can buy.

try-street-foods-10

try-street-foods-9

Image Courtesy of: Joni Cong

Image Courtesy of: Joni Cong

5. Vinegar Peanuts 老醋花生

These aren’t really sold by street vendors, but they can be found in restaurants and I adore this snack. Chinese vinegar peanuts are a filling and tasty snack that I loved so much I started to make it at home when I returned from Beijing.

try-street-foods-8

6. Egg Drop Soup 蛋花湯

This is another dish, like the dumpling soup, that you can enjoy if you have a moment to hang out near the vendor’s stall. The soup that I had on this trip was filled with broth, egg, seaweed and cilantro.

try-street-foods-7

7. Rice Noodles 河粉

These are nearly impossible to eat with chopsticks for their slippery texture, but when you do finally succeed in getting them from the plate into your mouth, the effort required becomes so worth it. The rice noodles we had were thick and covered in a peanut sauce.

try-street-foods-4

8. Fried Vegetables and Meats

The fried foods in China are so addicting. They have so much flavor and it’s hard to avoid them. My favorites were the fried mushrooms and lamb below.

try-street-foods-3

try-street-foods-2

9. Youtiao 油条

These are quite similar to donuts in that they are fried breads (again with the fried foods, I know). They can be served plain or with a touch of sugar (along the lines of a churro).

Image Courtesy of: Brian Jeffery Beggerly

Image Courtesy of: Brian Jeffery Beggerly

Vocabulary in this Post

Chinese Pinyin English
煎饼 jiānbing Chinese pancakes
上湯水餃 shàng tāng shuǐjiǎo Dumpling soup
包子 bāozi Dumplings
水果 shuǐguǒ Fruit
糖葫芦 tánghúlu Candied fruit
老醋花生 lǎo cù huāshēng Vinegar peanuts
蛋花湯 dàn huā tāng Egg drop soup
河粉 hé fěn Rice noodles
油条 yóutiáo Chinese donuts

What about you?

Have you tried any street foods out while you were traveling?

What did you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!



I'm a language lover, traveler and musician sharing my adventures and language learning tips over at Eurolinguiste. Join me on Facebook for daily language learning and travel tips!

  • Hey Shannon, you’re making me want to go to Beijing with this post! All that food looks sooo good. 🙂 And I just ate dinner, so I shouldn’t even be hungry!

    • I’m not going to lie, the food alone was definitely worth the visit. I could have eaten jianbing every.single.day.