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The Terrific Tastes of Tianjin

 

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When it comes to superb Chinese dining, look no further than the great culinary city of Tianjin! What many expats may not know is that the food scene here is renowned throughout China and even beyond the country’s borders. Tianjin is home to a terrific variety of unique and tasty snacks. If you haven’t tried the local delicacies, now is the time to get out and give your taste buds a workout!

 

Jian Bing Guozi

The historical background of this intriguing breakfast snack is somewhat contentious. Many Beijingers have claimed it as one of their own local dishes, but to the hungry people of Tianjin there is no doubt whatsoever that the notorious Jian Bing Guozi is the city’s most famous snack. To the majority of local people there is no better way to start the day than munching on a generous serving of this delightful snack. In the early morning hours you will see these being sold everywhere from street vendors to 7 Eleven’s.

Jian Bing Guozi is essentially a Chinese style pancake folded around a deep fried dough stick and stuffed with a variety of different fillings. Vendors who make them fresh on site will usually take special requests from their customers in terms of what goes inside the wrap.

 

Gou Bu Li Baozi

Gou Bu Li has become an institution within Tianjin society. This quintessentially Chinese restaurant brand has its roots in the Qing Dynasty era and is now present in all major cities across the country. Although Gou Bu Li venues serve a vast array of fantastic dishes, their signature snack is their baozi. Fans of these delicious stuffed steam buns will find Gou Bu Li’s famous concoctions to be absolutely stunning. One cannot claim to have fully experienced Tianjin’s dining culture without paying a visit to one of these restaurants!

 

Cha Tang

This weird but wonderful soup is a sacred entity in Tianjin. Cha Tang makers carefully blend a variety of key ingredients with boiling water and millet flour to produce this tangy broth. One can recognise a Cha Tang seller by observing the gigantic copper tea pot-like container from which the soup is served to customers.

 

Tangdui

Tianjin’s most famous sweet treat is probably Tangdui. Traditionally prepared and eaten around the holiday times, this snack is usually made from hawthorn berries that are dipped in syrup and dried off before additives like sugar and fruit are delicately put into the mix. Tangdui is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

Ma Hua

Perhaps the most accurate description of this snack in English is crispy twisted dough sticks, which probably doesn’t sound overly appetising. However, these long rolls of dough are filled with bean paste and other tasty fillings and can be munched away at gradually when you need a quick nibble in between meals.

 

Guoba Cai

Another well known Tianjin dish, this tasty snack is full of flavour and is enjoyed by locals on a regular basis. Guoba Cai is a mung bean and millet based pancake fried up in sesame oil then filled with a range of ingredients such as ginger, soy sauce, beancurd and green onion. It is often served in conjunction with other local delicacies like sesame cakes.

 

Where You Should Go!

All of these wonderful local delicacies can be found around the city in restaurants and on street vendor stalls. There are two places though that are both worthy of a special mention. The first, of course, is Food Street (shi pin jie), which is exactly what the name implies. Here you will find a bazaar of different food and beverage outlets that will leave you spoilt for choice. There are tons of dumpling restaurants and a very wide range of eateries which offer everything from fried noodles to dog meat. Whatever it is you want to eat, you will find it on Food Street.

Another increasingly popular area with both locals and expats is Wandezhuang dajie, a lively street located near the haiguangsi junction. There are plenty of street sellers there and a number of great restaurants and bars whereby you can chill out and enjoy an evening with friends whilst devouring some superb Tianjin snacks.

 

By Tracy Hall

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