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Originally, the people in the region about 40 years ago were mainly local Cantonese and Hakka. But most of the people living in Shenzhen now are from all over China and probably don't even speak Cantonese or eat Cantonese food much.
Cantonese dim sum and congee are two Cantonese foods locals eat a lot of, and you might like to try them, but foreign foods and food from other regions such as pizza, steak, Sichuan hot pot, stir-fry dishes and Muslim noodles are also popular and have become the favorite restaurant meals in local restaurants. Shenzhen people are quite eclectic and international in their food choices. These seven dishes should most interest tourists and travelers.
Of all foods of Cantonese cuisine, dim sum is the favorite of foreigners in the Cantonese areas.
You can enjoy small morsels of food with tea at breakfast or lunch time. These are usually served in a small bowl or basket. Tea is also an important element of a traditional dim sum meal or snack. Diners may choose from green, oolong, jasmine, chrysanthemum, or other types of tea.
In restaurants, customers pick from a large selection of tasty choices that are served in steamer baskets or on small plates. The classic dim sum dishes include shrimp dumplings (har gau), congee (rice porridge), and steamed pork dumplings (siu mei). It helps to go in groups to be able to order as many different kinds of dim sum.
Dim sum and good air-conditioning makes Jinyue popular with foreigners. Dim sum is served from 8 am to 2 pm, and elegant dinners including seafood dishes are served in the evenings. Ranks 669 of 3,912 Shenzhen Restaurants on TripAdvisor.
Congee is a typical Cantonese food that many people eat daily. It is basically a soup made from rice and bits of other ingredients. To Western tastes, it is quite bland and seems like over watery rice, but many locals eat it daily for breakfast, snacks, and as part of lunch and dinner.
This restaurant features Cantonese congee (rice soup or creamy rice), and for this reason, it ranks lower among foreigners looking for something exciting like Beijing duck. But it ranks high with locals, and if you want some Cantonese bland rice dishes, this is where to go.
Wupi duck porridge is a speciality. Many other kinds of porridges are served such as lobster porridge and gamey porridges such as partridge and hare porridge. Every kind of porridge is cooked up by an elaborate technique.
More typical Cantonese food eaten by locals are in Guangzhou Food.
Hot pot restaurants are best for small groups of friends or family. This way of eating isn't Cantonese, but is common in Sichuan and other provinces.
You can enjoy socializing as the Chinese do by sitting around a table with a big pot boiling in the middle. You'll select a group of ingredients to boil with the help of the waiter.
Then diners put the ingredients into the pot and eat from it. This may sound like a strange way to have a meal, but it is a fun an interesting activity, and you can experiment with the flavors yourself and concoct your own masterpiece soup.
See more about Sichuan-style hot pots.
Hot pots are the big restaurants (two floors) main business, and they try to make it fun. Foreigners who have not had hot pot before find it very fun and exciting to try this new type of Chinese food. It is easily accessible in Luohu form Hong Kong. Very popular: ranked #7 of 3,914 Restaurants in Shenzhen
People around the world have learned to like Chinese stir-fry dishes though the flavors and ingredients are not authentic and unusual as authentically prepared Chinese stir-fry are. Sichuan people love stir-fry dishes, and they make it memorable and interesting: spicy hot and mouth numbing. But you can ask them to hold back on the spices.
It might be the flagship of Sichuan cuisine in Shenzhen. Foreigners like it, and it is ranked #257 out of 3,912 restaurants (TripAdvisor, 2016). There are several branches in the city, but the one in Luohu is the most easily accessible for foreign travelers.
Steaks have gotten popular with wealthier Chinese, and you'll find steak restaurants serving fine steak from Australia, Japan, and Taiwan.
This restaurant is part of a large Taiwanese restaurant chain that has many steak restaurants in cities in China. This one is near the large Overseas Chinese Town with four large theme parks parks including Windows of the World and Splendid China. Only set meals are served here, and the bread set before the main dishes is tasty. Their steak is famous, but don't expect exactly Western flavors or style. Rated 86 of 3,915 Restaurants in Shenzhen.
After eating Chinese food for a while, you might yearn for the taste of diary and cheese and want calorie packed pizza. Foreigners who love pizza can find pizza at the Pizza Hut chain restaurants and at authentic Italian restaurants as well.
For fine dining and fine authentic Italian food, this rates very high with a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor in 2016. There is an Italian chef with European management, and pizza is one of their fortes. Ranked 24 of 3,913 Restaurants on TripAdvisor in 2016.
Note about Sea World: Trattoria D'Angelo is in a restaurant and hotel area in a upper income expat enclave that is very popular with Westerners. Sea World ranks number 1 for Fun and Games in Shenzhen in TripAdvisor (2016), and there is a mix of popular Chinese, international, and chain restaurants such McDonalds, Pizza Hut and etc. You can expect higher prices with a more Western and less stressful and disorientating feel.
A lot of of tourists and many expats have found Muslim-style noodle soup or spaghetti-like noodles with tomatoes and beef and chicken to be a staple quick meal they can enjoy casually and quickly, even in shorts and sandals. Far from ritzy, but it is tasty.
Among these noodle restaurants, the most noteworthy and even getting listed 220 of 3,912 Restaurants on TripAdvisor in 2016 is the Muslim Noodle House in the tourist/expat popular Sea World area.
It isn't a ritzy place, and the dishes are inexpensive. The consistent quality, large portions, and good tastes have made it popular. It is also among the least expensive restaurants for a meal around Sea World.
Since dining well is an important part of touring, it would be helpful to have a local guide who can give you some insider recommendations on what to eat and where. Our guides ensure that you order only the best Chinese cuisine or other styles for you. Dining and food orientated tours include:
We could modify these suggestions to tailor-make for you a Shenzhen tour.