Five staple Chinese foods that you can rely on during your time TEFL teaching in China

Five Chinese foods to make staples during your time in China

If you read one article about Chinese food before you begin your TEFL experience then make sure it is this one. These 5 meals will be your lifeline in China.

Beef/Lamb noodles

More Noodles

Chinese name:

  • 牛肉粉 Beef (rice) noodles
  • 羊肉粉 Lamb (rice) noodles
  • 牛肉面 Beef (wheat) noodles
  • 羊肉面 Lamb (wheat) noodles

Noodles, be it beef or lamb, wheat or rice noodles they are a solid staple of Chinese daily life. Noodle houses line streets all around the whole of China and at on average 8 RMB per bowl full noodles make a cheap, filling breakfast lunch or dinner.


Delicious Chinese dumplings

Chinese name:

  • 饺子 dumplings
  • 水饺 boiled dumplings 
  • 煎饺子 fried dumplings

Dumplings are delicious noodle like casings surrounding a meat, usually pork filling. They are cooked all around China and are a tradition to be eaten during Chinese new year. Dumplings can be eaten at many of the dumpling restaurants in China or bought frozen from the supermarket to cook yourself.

Egg fried rice

A delicious bowl of Chinese rice casserole

Chinese name:

  • 蛋炒饭 Egg fried rice 
  • 肉丝捞饭 Pork & vegetable fried rice (Shanghai style)
  • 砂锅饭 Rice casserole 

Rice is the staple of an entire continent and upon tasting these dishes it is no surprise why. Egg fried rice is a versatile vegetarian friendly dish that can be ordered from almost any restaurant in China.


Chinese names:

  • 羊肉火锅 Lamb hotpot
  • 牛肉火锅 Beef hotpot

Hotpots are a large pot full of meat and boiling water which you then add sides to and eat with your own personal bowl of rice and dipping sauce. Hotpots are eaten in groups rather than as an individual and due to the food being rich and warming are particularly popular throughout the winter months.

Steamed buns

Chinese names:

  • 馒头 Steamed bun 
  • 包子 Steamed bun (colloquial)

Steamed buns are steamed bread-like base with a meat, tofu or vegetable filling. Steamed buns are usually cheap, convenient and filling snacks and at an average price of 2RMB they are highly affordable too!

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