Because of different methods of preparation and use of materials and ingredients, there are over a thousand types of noodles from all over China with local characteristics.
Noodles are an excellent food for the nutritionally-inclined, providing a dietary balance. They are low in calories, and high in protein and carbohydrate.
Chinese noodles are generally made from wheat flour, rice flour, or types of starches, such as mung bean starch. Wheat flour noodles are commonly produced and consumed in North China, while rice flour noodles are more typical in South China.
Rice flour and starch-based noodles are made only with rice flour or starch and water. Wheat flour noodles may be supplemented in low quantities with egg, lye or food coloring in order to have a yellow color, and change the texture, tenderness and taste of the noodles. No matter their type, noodles cook very quickly. Usually it requires no more than 5 minutes to become al dente, while thinner noodles only take less than one minute to finish cooking.
Noodles are served and eaten hot or cold, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, deep-fried, or served in soup. Whichever way, you’ll first need to, using chopsticks, stir the noodles till all the materials are evenly mingled before enjoying it.
Each city has their own specialty! Among them, the most famous ones are soy bean paste noodles (or zhajiangmian) in Beijing, hand-pulled noodles (or lamian) in Shaanxi Province, sliced noodles (or daoxiaomian) in Shanxi Province, dandan noodles (or dandanmian) in Sichuan Province, to name just a few.
Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles with beef are also known as "Lanzhou beef noodles," and are one of the most common dishes in the local area. Visitors can feast on them at every corner of the city. The noodle is handmade, and it takes an experienced cook only one or two minutes to stretch the dough into many needle-thin noodles.
Today small restaurants serving Lanzhou beef noodles can be found in almost every Chinese city, especially the bigger ones. However, most of them are hidden in small alleys or back streets. These smaller stores also tend to have the best noodles, with the tastiest broth.
Guangzhou shahefen, or wide noodles, are popular in Southern China's Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan provinces. They are broad and white in color, made of rice, and typically chewy. The noodles are typical of Southern Chinese cuisine, and with Chinese people's migration have also spread to countries throughout Southeast Asia. They are, for example, also the noodles used in Vietnamese traditional pho noodle soup.
Guangzhou's Shahefen are available throughout most of China nowadays, as Guangdong cuisine is very popular with everyone.
Beijing zhajiangmian, or soy bean paste noodles, are a staple dish in the capital, and one of the cheapest dishes to get. They are available at most restaurants serving Beijing-style food and snacks, or from smaller noodle restaurants scattered in Beijing's many alleys. These noodles are also available on many of Beijing's food streets.
The dish is relatively simple: noodles (of the thin, square variety made of wheat), soy bean paste, a little bit of pork in the soy bean paste topped off with cucumber. Its name comes from zhajiang, the fermented bean paste. The bowl comes with everything put on individually, so you'll still have to stir to get a tasty bowl of noodles. If you have trouble with chopsticks, the chef certainly won't mind stirring your noodles for you so they are ready to eat.
Upon ordering the noodles, you'll be presented with a large bowl of boiling broth, and all the noodle ingredients on the side. The vegetables will be raw, and the meats lightly cooked. Ingredients may consist of, but are definitely not limited to beansprouts, egg, chicken, and sausage. Once inside the bowl, the ingredients cook and the soup is served in little bowls.
You can get many different combinations ranging in price, and of course there is the perfect order to insert all the ingredients. Ask your tour guide, or chef! They'll know most about the Yunnanese Cuisine.
Xi'an daoxiaomian, or knife-cut noodles, are not only popular throughout all of Shanxi province, but also the entire country. They are best eaten in Xi'an's Muslim Quarter, or at one of Xi'an's many popular night markets, along with other popular Shanxi snacks.
The noodles can be made using meat, or vegetables, depending on your preference. Most restaurants also have their own specialty, generally lamb and some vegetables. You can tell that the chewy noodles used in daoxiaomian aren't made using machines as they are all different sizes, in both breadth and length.
Shanghai fried noodles, or Shanghai chaomian, are made from special Shanghai-style noodles. What sets these noodles apart is their thickness and their round shape, often compared to the Japanese udon noodles.
The ingredients in Shanghai fried noodles are beef, bok choy, and onion. It is a staple to Shanghai cuisine, but is also popular in other cities in China and throughout the world. It is a common dish in Chinatowns across the world, some of which offer the dish with chicken, pork, or vegetables instead of beef.
Chengdu dandanmian are probably the spiciest noodles on this list, but definitely worth a try. This is no surprise, considering that Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province; the origins of Sichuan cuisine. However, people often find that the spicy noodles are addictive.
Dandanmian are a thin and long noodle topped off with a sauce made of preserved vegetables (usually lower or upper mustard stems), chili oil, fresh chili, Sichuan peppercorns, minced pork, and scallions. Sometimes there is also sesame paste in the mixture.
Guilin rice noodles consist of noodles, gravy, fried peanuts or soybeans, scallions and thin slices of different kinds of meat. This tasty dish is also topped with more condiments: spring onions, chilli, pickled beans and pickled white raddish in chilli sauce.
Rice noodles are one of the most popular dishes for a typical Guilin breakfast, and you can find the noodles on almost every street. It is one of the must-taste foods when you travel to Guilin.
As you can see, noodles alone will keep you traveling around the entire of China, and we haven't even started on dumplings. Feel free to contact us to put together your perfect travel itinerary, or to make sure you get to try all the different noodles you want to while on your trip!