Hangzhou is the capital and most populous city in China’s Zhejiang province. Just an hour bullet train from Shanghai, Hangzhou is a popular spot to visit for both Chinese and foreign tourists because of it’s convenient location, beautiful scenery and Zhejiang cuisine. With attractions like West Lake, Qinghefang Old Street and Lingyin Temple, the city can be very exciting. Don't miss these 10 signature Zhejiang dishes while visiting Hangzhou.
No matter where you go exploring in Hangzhou, or China for that matter, Spoonhunt has great dining options for you to check out nearby. Here are some of our favorites near the hot spots in Hangzhou.
To find the English menus for any of these restaurants in Hangzhou, search the Spoonhunt Shop ID in the Spoonhunt APP!
10. Drunken Shrimp
Drunken Shrimp is actually a live seafood dish. While the "aliveness" proves their freshness, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. The shrimp are put in a bowl of rice wine, left to drink themselves silly. Once they are drunk and stumbling around they are put in a bowl of sauce and served. They drink the sauce so the flavor can be tasted throughout their body. You then take their heads off with chopsticks and eat their still wiggling bodies. It is a delicious Hangzhou dinner, but you need bravery for it.
9. Honey Lotus Root with Glutinous Rice
Honey Lotus Root Stuffed with Glutinous Rice is a local dessert of Hangzhou made from lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice, sweet osmanthus and sugar. The lotus root used in the dish is from West Lake and is the best in China. The dish perfectly combines crispy lotus root, sticky glutinous rice, sweet honey and fragrant osmanthus together. It offers a uniquely sweet flavor and texture that Hangzhou people absolutely love.
8. Pian Er Chuan Noodles 片儿川面
It’s said that in the beginning, Kuiyuan Restaurant was a nameless restaurant with few customers. One year, many students flooded into Hangzhou to take the Provincial Imperial Examination. The owner of the restaurant specially made a kind of noodle (which is now Pian’erchuan) out of pork, bamboo shoots and pot herb mustard for the students. There was a day when a poor student walked into the restaurant and ordered a bowl of noodles. Aware of the student’s difficulty, the owner took pity on him and put an extra three eggs in the noodles to wish him good luck. Unexpectedly, the poor student did pass the examination. Later he went back to the restaurant to express his gratitude.
7. Deep Fried Tofu Skin Rolls 干炸响铃
Deep Fried Tofu Skin Rolls are a Hangzhou favorite snack that are light and addicting. Tofu skin is made as a by-product of boiling soy milk. When boiled, a thin layer of film appears on the top of the milk and is removed in sheets as tofu skin. In Hangzhou, these skins are rolled up, often with minced pork on the inside, and deep fried until the skin is crispy. The rolls are golden and light and often comes with Sweet and Sour dipping sauce.
6. Stewed Bamboo Shoots 糟烩鞭笋
Stewed Bamboo Shoots is a traditional Hangzhou dish perfect for vegetarians. While most foreigners don't know that bamboo is edible or delicious, when prepared properly it is a delicious addition to any meal. While they can be a part of other dishes, they can also be served alone as a pickled dish soaked in vinegar. They tend to be salty, tender and high in nutrients, which is why Chinese people love them. Getting them in the Spring is best because that's when the quality of the harvest is highest.
5. Sister Song's Fish Broth 宋嫂鱼羹
As a world-famous traditional Hangzhou cuisine, Sister Song’s Fish Broth, dates back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279). It tastes as good as crab meat, and is lustrous in color, and creamy in taste. She settled down by West Lake with her brother-in-law, and tried to make a living by fishing. On one occasion her brother-in-law had a bad cold and Song wusao made him a bowl of special fish soup. It was a thick soup made with fish, pepper, ginger, wine, ham and vinegar. Shortly after her brother-in-law ate the fish soup, he recovered. The reputation eventually spread throughout Hangzhou, making it a famous dish today.
4. Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea 龙井虾仁
Freshwater seafood is a staple in Hangzhou thanks to the abundance of fish in West Lake. This dish doesn't just feature classic Hanghzou seafood but also uses a special cooking style and elegant local tea to bring a classy feel to the shrimp. Tea leaves are stir-fried with the shrimp for a subtle flavor addition to the sweetness of the shrimp. The shrimp is a nice jade-white color thanks to the special coating of egg whites and starch.
3. Dongpo Pork 东坡肉
Named after poet, writer and calligrapher of ancient Hangzhou, Su Dongpo, this dish uses pork as the main ingredient. Su Dongpo supposedly invented the dish by taking a slab of pork belly and cooking it for several hours to tenderize the meat and eliminate a lot of the fat. The cooking process is quite elaborate, as it is twice simmered, braised, sauteed then steamed. The slab is cut into small cubes that are a little bit oily from the vinegar, ginger, scallion and sugar, but it isn't greasy.
2. Beggar's Chicken 叫花鸡
While the origin of this dish is unknown, it is believed that Beggar's Chicken was invented by a poor beggar who stole a chicken and with no tools to properly cook it, wrapped the chicken in mud and straw to cook it. Nowadays the chicken is cooked in a wrapping of lotus leaves then in mud and roasted near an open fire. It can take up to 6 hours to prepare, but when the clay is cracked open right at your table and you smell the lotus and wine aromas, it's worth it. The tender meat will leave you wanting more.
1. Sweet and Sour West Lake Carp 西湖醋鱼
Hangzhou was nicknamed "The Culture of Fish in Rice Fields," so obviously the number one food to try in Hangzhou is fish. But not just any fish, specifically West Lake Carp. Hangzhou's central body of water, "West Lake" is home to beautiful teahouses, mountains, bridges and vibrant fish. Pick a restaurant near the lake and enjoy one of Hangzhou's top dishes Sweet and Sour West Lake Carp that was caught just a few miles from your seat. In order to get the fish clean, it is kept alive in clean water for 1-2 days while it purges the muddy stuff from its insides. It is then cut from head to tail, poached and served with sauce.
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