Recognized as one of the eight major schools of cuisine in China, Hangzhou food is characterized by its sweet and light flavors, enjoyable presentation, and delicate cooking methods.
Hangzhou cuisine features tender, light, and fresh food. The most famous Hangzhou dishes include West Lake fish in sweet and sour sauce, shelled shrimp with Dragon Well tea, and Dongpo pork.
Here are the top 10 Hangzhou dishes and some famous snacks.
The Top 10 Famous Hangzhou Dishes
1. Sweet and Sour West Lake Fish (西湖醋鱼)
Sweet and sour West Lake fish is the most famous food in Hangzhou. The fish used in the dish is from West Lake. The fish tastes tender and fresh. The sweet and sour sauce poured on the steamed fish makes it even more appetizing.
2. Dongpo Pork (东坡肉)
Dongpo pork is a very popular food among tourists and locals alike. The creation of the dish is related to a famous poet, Su Dongpo, so the dish was named after him.
It is cooked by braising finely-skinned, thin pieces of streaky bacon with the famous Shaoxing wine in a sealed pot for hours. When the dish is ready, the bacon is moist and red. It smells sweet with the fragrance of rice wine. The pork is fat and soft but not greasy and tastes very delicious.
3. Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea (龙井虾仁)
Fried shrimps with Longjing tea is a traditional food in Hangzhou. Stir-fry fresh river shrimps with Longjing tea, tea leaves, and rice wine. The fresh fragrances of Longjing tea and the shrimps blend together. The combination of jade-white shrimps and green tea leaves looks exquisite. The dish tastes fragrant and light.
4. Aunt Song Fish Broth (宋嫂鱼羹)
This dish was created in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279). It is a famous traditional food of Hangzhou. It is made of fish with ham silk, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and chicken soup. It tastes fresh and smooth, like crab meat.
5. Beggars’ Chicken (叫花鸡)
Beggars’ chicken is cooked in a special way that was created by a beggar. The special cooking process involves wrapping the chicken in lotus leaves, covering it with mud, and then roasting it over a fire. When the mud is baked dry, it is cracked and the clay is broken off and removed. The aroma of lotus leaves and chicken are mixed together. The chicken is crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside.
6. Tofu with Eight Delicious (八宝豆腐)
Tofu with Eight Delicious is a popular and special snack in Hangzhou. In this dish, tofu is the main ingredient, which is cooked with eight other ingredients: egg white, lotus seeds, lilies, sea cucumber, chicken, ham, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and other vegetables. The dish is rich in nutrition. It is good for a person’s health and skin.
7. Stewed Fish Head with Tofu in Casserole (砂锅鱼头豆腐)
Stewed fish head with tofu in casserole is a popular food in Hangzhou, especially in winter. The flavor of the fish head blends with the flavor of the tofu in the soup. Drinking hot soup and eating the tasty tofu and fish will warm your stomach.
8. Fish Balls (鱼丸)
There are many fish recipes in Hangzhou. Fish balls is one of them. Chop the fish finely so that it is virtually a puree, roll it into balls by hand, and boil the balls in the soup. The tender fish balls taste wonderful with the delicious soup.
9. Stewed Bamboo Shoots (糟烩鞭笋)
It is a delicious vegetarian dish. Bamboo shoots are the main ingredient. When cooking the dish, a kind of wine made by fermented wheat and glutinous rice is added to it to make the dish more delicious. It has a rich fragrance.
10. Osmanthus and Chestnut Soup (桂花栗子羹)
This is a dessert. Osmanthus is not only a flower but can also be cooked as an ingredient in food. The combination of soft chestnuts with fragrant osmanthus makes you feel refreshed.
3 Famous Hangzhou Snacks
1. Victory Cake
Dingsheng Gao, which originated during the Song Dynasty, is very popular with Hangzhou citizens. Such cake is made with delicate glutinous rice flour as its covering and has a filling of bean paste mixed with white sugar and osmanthus flowers. It has a pink coloring, indicating victory.
The taste of Victory Cake is fragrant and deliciously glutinous, sweet but not greasy. What's more, it is very cheap and costs just one yuan for a slice. It is widely accepted as being a special snack of good quality and of good value.
The cake has a lobed shape and a pink color, is moist, is waxy, has a sticky crunchiness, is very sweet, and has a delicious taste. It can be seen everywhere in the Jiangnan area. Victory Cake is loved by the public not just for its delicious taste but also for its symbolization of victory. It has become an ideal festival season gift around the Jiangnan area.
2. West Lake Lotus Root Powder
As a specialty of Hangzhou, West Lake lotus root powder is characterized by its unique taste and rich nutrition. It is even praised as the top brand among all lotus root powders available. The lotus root is processed into thin slices or granular powder. It has a white color that is tinted with red. The lotus root powder in Sanjia Village is the most famous one in Hangzhou.
Lotus root powder is very rich in nutritional ingredients and is good for a person’s health. It stimulates the appetite and restores the lungs, it treats yin deficiency and nourishes the blood, and it nourishes yin to lower a person’s inner ”heat” (a Chinese medicine term). Therefore, West Lake lotus root powder is the ideal medicinal nutrition for babies, seniors, infants, and patients.
3. Crisp Cake
It's said that Crisp Cake has long been famous throughout the whole country since about 300 years ago. Mainly produced in Fengwu Hill, Crisp Cake is one of the well-known specialties in Hangzhou. It used to be mentioned and highly praised in The Scholars - a famous novel in the Qing Dynasty.
The cake is made with superior flour mixed with white sugar, which is then fried with peanut oil. It's crisp and tasty with a golden color. Visitors in Hangzhou can taste this cake in places like Mingxiang Restaurant in Wushan.
Taste Authentic Hangzhou Food with Us
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let your travel specialist and tour guide know. They will give you recommendations accordingly. Here are some sample itineraries for Hangzhou, for inspiration:
- 2-Day Hangzhou Highlights and Cultural Experience
- One-Day Dragon Well Tea Culture and West Lake Tour
- 5-Day Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou Bullet Train Tour
Our tours are customizable. Contact us and tell us your ideas. We are happy to create your tour in Hangzhou.