For many people, traveling around the world is a great way to get a taste of some of the world’s best cuisine. One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is the opportunity to sample a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit China, you’ll be surprised by the wide variety of strange and unusual street foods available. Listed here are 35 dishes that you may not want to eat in China!
Are you not a fan of silkworms when they are alive? So rest assured that you will not enjoy this Chinese speciality. If you’re familiar with silk, you may recognize silkworms as the creatures that produce it. Though they may seem disgusting, did you know that these tiny worms are a common ingredient in Chinese cooking?
On skewers, the Silkworm Pupae of China is served as a delicacy in the country. Despite its unappealing appearance, those who have tried it report that it tastes a lot like shrimp. It’s not a surprise that these little snacks have so many spices on them. At least the flavor of the worm can mask the fact that you’re eating it!
In a culinary context, the word “lizard” does not sound very appetizing. In addition to lizard dishes, Chinese cuisine includes flying lizards that many people are unaware of. It’s true that flying lizards exist, and you can find them fried in Chinese food markets all over the place.
Flying lizards (also referred to as flying dragons) are served on skewers, just like silkworms. They’re usually fried and seasoned with salt for added flavor. Food markets in Hong Kong as well as other Chinese regions are a great place to find flying lizards.
Snake soup is a real thing, and you read that right. Many people enjoy a hearty bowl of soup on a chilly night, but few are familiar with snake soups. As the names imply, the dish is made up entirely of shredded snake meat and bones.
Se Wong, or “snake kings,” is the name of a chain of restaurants in Southern China where snake meals are a specialty. Cooking snake dishes requires specialized training, so you won’t find many of these in restaurants.
Take into account that the egg isn’t actually a thousand years old before you start freaking out. The meal’s name comes from the fact that the egg is supposed to look ancient, but we’re glad it isn’t. As a matter of fact, if you’re looking for “pidan” in Chinese markets, you will get it!
It can take weeks or even months for these eggs to go through a lengthy fermentation process. As part of the preparation, they are covered in a layer of ash, clay, salt, and lime to protect them from oxidation and other environmental influences. Reportedly, the egg’s interior smells like vinegar and stinky cheese. This does not sound appetizing, does it?
When dining out in China, you have to be on the lookout for roasted cats as well as dog meat. All over the world, cats and dogs are revered as beloved family members. Except in China, where you can always order a roasted Mr. Mittens at any restaurant.
Does eating a cat straight from the bowl sound appealing to you? This is the weirdest and presumably the worst thing you could ever do from our culture and perspective. Even so, in China and the neighboring areas, eating cat meat is perfectly acceptable.
Considering all the revolting foods we have already encountered, we kind of anticipated this one. And besides, roaches appear to be some of the most prevalent insects, so it would seem odd if they were absent from Chinese food markets.
If you’re the kind of person who cringes when they see roaches on the ground, try picturing a plate full of them in front of you. We’re not quite on the same page as Chinese people, who believe that these insects are delicious and packed with protein.
Because someone decided to roast an entire crocodile, there must have been some wild and crazy feast going on. At social gatherings, roasting this type of animal is not something you’d expect to see. People in China, on the other hand, view it as just another meal.
The crocodile should have been slaughtered for its meat, but instead, it is being roasted whole. Nothing in Chinese cooking appears to be thrown away. If we’re talking about a fictional crocodile, this may be a desirable quality, but not in the real world.
After seeing snakes, crocodiles, as well as roaches on plates and sticks, sheep might seem like a natural choice. When it comes to Chinese cuisine, you know that even a simple dish will have a unique flavor.
It’s interesting to note that in China, sheep heads are served and eaten whole. This appears to be a strange way to eat since it’s a whole head. Before serving, the head is boiled and then roasted to bring out the best flavor.
Stinky Black Tofu
Tofu, but not the stinky black variety, has been discussed previously. This isn’t your average bland tofu, believe me. In the end, you may regret having tried this type of tofu on your trip to China.
Tofu with a black mold crust is available in some Chinese markets. Tourists say it tastes like “rotten garbage,” but locals consider it a delectable treat… despite how disgusting it sounds!
The least bizarre Chinese dish on our list is pigeon. For the most part, the pigeon would be our choice to eat, as it is most likely to taste like chicken meat. Even on auspicious occasions, the Chinese eat these birds.
Squab, the Chinese word for pigeon meal, is a traditional dish served during the Chinese New Year. Squabs deep-fried or live pigeons for sale can be found at a Chinese food market.
Balut, a dish popular in Chinese street markets as well as the Philippines, is the subject of much debate. What is Balut? It’s an egg embryo, most commonly from a duck, that is cooked and consumed along with the embryo within it.
Even though Chinese chefs attempt to make it more enticing by trying to add salt and vinegar, it doesn’t sound very appetizing. Balut’s flavor has been compared to that of cream cheese or a soft mousse by some reviewers.
On the other hand, if you are afraid of spiders, you should avoid this meal at all costs. Think about tarantulas, and your hair or neck will stand on end just by thinking about them. People in China are not afraid of tarantulas, contrary to popular belief. It’s no surprise that they think of them as a tasty treat.
Traditional deep-fried Chinese cuisine has included tarantulas for centuries. Only in the late ’90s did it gain widespread acceptance outside of China. Spider stew can now be made at home with the help of numerous online recipes for spider stew.
The East Asian and Chinese cuisines both use tofu as a staple ingredient. You may be familiar with tofu, but have you heard of fermented tofu? It’s an interesting concept. The “stinky tofu” moniker comes from its distinct flavor and distinct aroma.
Tofu fermented in a Chinese food market is likely to cause you to wonder “what’s this smell?” before you have a chance to look at it. Manufacturers use fermented milk, vegetables, meats, and herbs to smoke regular tofu cubes to create fermented tofu. It can take months to achieve the desired level of fermentation in this process.
Yes, these sea creatures that resemble slugs are in fact one of the most popular Chinese delicacies in the area. Sea cucumbers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including some that have spikes covering their bodies.
Chinese chefs will continue to serve their usual menu items, despite the occasional spikes. When it comes to sea cucumber meals, those who have sampled them say that the dish is essentially tasteless and often tastes like whatever food or sauce is on the plate.
Try a tuna eyeball and see what all the fuss is about. Both of us didn’t know that! But in China, the eyeballs of tuna are a popular delicacy because of a chef’s desire to use every part of the animal. The eye, as well as everything else, must be consumed.
The eye of the tuna is said to have a flavor similar to that of an egg white, but that’s not enough for us to try it. As a bonus, the eyeballs of tuna are among the largest you’ll find in sea animals, so the portion sizes must be quite large.
Bird’s Nest Soup
Those familiar with snake soup may be wary of bird’s nest soup, but are you up for the challenge? This dish, also widely recognized as the caviar of the East, is actually extremely rare in Chinese cuisine. For a soup that’s so unique, you can expect to pay a high price for it.
The soup’s name didn’t disappoint, as it contains a real bird’s nest in the mix. Specifically, we’re referring to the swiftlet’s saliva-based nest. You can’t even compare this to the nest made of branches and little branches of leaves. Imagine a soup made from bird saliva!
If the thought of 100 legs doesn’t terrify you, then go ahead and eat some centipedes! Centipedes are poisonous, but that won’t stop Chinese chefs from preparing them as a delicacy.
Many different kinds of centipedes are available in Chinese food markets, from salted to dried to fried to fresh to powdered. Some people say that the taste of these insects is similar to that of seafood, but we have no plans to test this theory anytime soon!
An example like this one might not be ideal for people who own dogs. Dog meat is a popular delicacy in China, as you may have heard. In this culture, dog meat is treated as equal to chicken meat. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also commonplace in China.
That dog meat can be sold and eaten in these regions is even more shocking. Every year, China hosts a Dog Meat Festival, where locals and tourists alike can sample a variety of dog-based dishes.
In fact, bamboo worms are extremely beneficial to your health. As disgusting as these worms may look, they are a great source of protein and can be a nutritious snack. That really is, until you realize that you are in fact consuming worms!
Despite the fact that we haven’t tried it ourselves, we’ve heard that bamboo worms taste like milk and have a creamy consistency. Remember that we’re discussing worms here, so don’t get too excited!
Those foods we had shown you earlier were terrible, but prepare for the caterpillar fungus, which is even worse. It is possible for a caterpillar to become infected with this fungus, which can take over its resources and deplete its energy. Once the fungus is done with its host, it just pops out of its head and goes about its day.
All over China and Hong Kong, this fungus can be found on restaurant menus. Despite the fact that it lacks a distinct flavor, it is a specialty item and as such commands a hefty price. You’d have to fork over $1,000 just to get a pound of this odious-looking fungus!
Another soup to stay away from if you’re ever in China or the surrounding areas: this one. Bats are bathing on the plate as you eat this real soup. We shouldn’t be surprised to find bats in soup, given that they’re a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine.
For bat dishes, Guam, Palau, and Indonesia are the most common destinations. Before serving, the bat is usually grilled as part of the preparation process. Even if this dish is cooked, it will remain unappetizing to us.
Duck Blood Soup
Blood and soup have been mentioned previously, but this meal incorporates the two. Duck blood soup is what you’re looking at, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. In order to create a more satisfying meal, the red blood is served with vegetables and meat.
However, since we’re dealing with real, raw animal blood, we’re not sure how filling this will be. Blood pie and even blood blocks are common ingredients in Chinese cooking, so don’t be surprised if you see them.
One more odious bug that’s considered a delicacy in China. This area is known for its love of cicadas, and we’re not quite sure why. Everyone else views these insects as disgusting pests that should be exterminated as soon as possible.
However, fried cicadas are a popular dish in China, especially if they’re crunchy enough to make you hear the squeak of their tiny legs. If this doesn’t make your hair stand on end, you could be brave enough to try authentic Chinese food.
In Asia, octopus is prepared in a way that takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness. Smaller octopuses are commonly served in restaurants with trained chefs who know how to handle live creatures on a plate in most regions of the world.
But in Asia, they prefer to go for the largest octopus they can get their hands on. In fact, the meal will be even better if the octopus is large. It appears that the chewy dishes of giant octopuses are popular in Chinese restaurants.
There is no such thing as a sea serpent in mythology. A real animal is served in most Chinese food markets, so you know what to expect. Despite their small size, sea serpents have a terrifying appearance!
When it comes to handling these animals, Chinese workers are fearless. They treat it like a piece of cake! Sea serpents are reputed to be a delectable Chinese delicacy, according to some.
Specific parts of an animal’s anatomy are considered taboo for human consumption in some countries and cultures. Visitors to food markets in China, on the other hand, are used to seeing a variety of parts served as dishes. The male sheep’s genitals can be found among these unusual dishes.
The genital of a sheep is said to increase a man’s libido and is frequently requested by a large percentage of the Chinese population. The dish is typically steamed and seasoned with curry powder.
Guilinggao, the dish’s formal name, is also widely recognized as Turtle Jelly and is served as a dessert in China. It is common in China, and the cost will vary depending on where the turtle or tortoise was sourced. Street vendors sell the less expensive versions, while fine dining establishments can afford the more expensive versions.
In addition to enhancing circulation and kidney function, this delicacy is said to have numerous health benefits as well. Some women swear by Turtle Jelly as a way to keep their skin looking young and healthy.
People in China initially discounted reports that a tourist had seen monkey brains being marketed in a street market. However, the fact that monkey brains are served as a delicacy in China cannot be denied.
It was typically served as the centerpiece of the meal at high-ranking banquets. Although it has only recently appeared on the streets. Raw or lightly fried monkey brains are the best options for consumption.
Popular in the United Kingdom, blood is a key ingredient in the dish black pudding. There are a variety of dishes made with it in China, including the street food Devilish Sausage. Devilish Sausages are made with pork blood in a variety of ways, depending on the region.
Some recipes call for a mixture of seasonings and meaty bits seasoned with peppercorns, salt, as well as white pepper, while others call for blood. Adding Chinese cabbage and pork belly to this dish makes it a hearty stew during the winter.
Patrick and Spongebob’s favorite pastime of catching jellyfish is depicted numerous times in cartoons, but the next street dish that is popular in several Asian countries takes the cartoon characters’ favorite pastime to a darker level. Dehydration and pickling are the most common methods for preserving it.
It can be found in a wide variety of dishes, but salads are the most popular. Several Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Thailand, are big consumers of it. Some airlines even serve pickled jellyfish as a main dish.
Eating duck tongue in most Western countries would be seen as a joke in most places. Due to its small size and lack of meat, it not only sounds like an inedible part of a bird. Is it possible that… It is a common street food dish in China.
The webbed feet of the duck, for example, are frequently included in dishes that also contain this strange component of the duck’s anatomy. It is regarded as a delicacy.
Fish Lip Soup
There is a popular street food dish in China called Fish Lip Soup. However, despite its name, this dish does not involve cooking fish lips… Or at the very least, it’s not just fish lips. Most of the time, the entire fish head is used, but Garoupa fish lips can also be used in some recipes.
The fish head is generally served as a soup with tofu and brown fried in oil. It is then added to boiling water.
Pork Lungs in Chili Sauce
Street vendors in China are selling pork lungs in chili sauce, a traditional Chinese dish. This is largely due to the fact that it is prepared in advance and can be served at room temperature or chilled.
Pork lungs are not always present in the dish’s name. Tradition calls for strips of tender pork, heart, tripe, as well as tongue to be included. It is drenched in chili oil and garnished with sesame seeds before being served.
Pork, Goose, or Duck Fried Intestines
It might not sound delicious to most westerners, but in China, the intestines of certain animals are a favored delicacy. Intestines of animals such as geese, pigs, and ducks are widely enjoyed by the greater part of the Chinese population. It has also grown popular at street markets and is usually served deep fried with spicy and hot sauces.
Sometimes it is also used as hot pot ingredients for several appreciated soups that are also sold at street markets. In some places, it is stewed or stir-fried to improve the juicy textures.
Frogs and Toads
Some things that most people outside of Asia find disgusting are widely enjoyed delicacies in Asian countries. Frogs and toads can be found on the menus of street vendors in China and other Asian countries, including Vietnam.
Taiwan Bullfrogs are most popularly used, and in China, many people eat the Huang Shuang Black Stone Frog. In fact, the common Chinese name for the Taiwan Bullfrog is ‘Field Chicken’, and is a main ingredient in many soups and stir-fries.
Snow Fungus, also called White Fungus, is an ingredient used for numerous dishes in China. It is revered for its impressive medicinal qualities and high nutritional value. White Fungus is not a mushroom but is a fungus that commonly grows in China and is harvested for cooking.
It is usually soaked in water to soften it and then boiled in spicy water with other ingredients. It can also be used to make a variety of desserts and is a popular ingredient in many street vendor dishes.
Everyone loves the taste of chicken, unless, of course, you are a vegan or vegetarian, but in certain places of China, they serve the testicles of chickens as a delicacy. It is said to improve the libido of men and give women the smoothest skin they could dream of.
This dish is usually served with noodles and rice and is only lightly cooked to maintain its tenderness. It is best enjoyed with all its juices and is available in two variants, either white or black.
In China, the turtle is a respected animal associated with longevity and health. But that does not keep them from being eaten – in fact, it is quite the opposite. Turtles are often consumed in a soup made from three different turtle species found on the coasts of China.
It is said to be as delicious as it is healthy. Plus, it is a superfood that is often given to sick patients in hospitals. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but at street markets, you would usually only find it in soup form.
Dried Lily Buds
Used in a variety of soups and stir-fries, the following ingredient may not sound as strange as most of the others on this list. It is actually a delicious, sweet ingredient. In many cultures, certain flowers are used in cooking.
In China, the dried buds of yellow lilies are used as a food source. It is also called the golden lily, or tiger lily, and has been used as medicine and food in China for more than two thousand years. It can mostly be found in the stir-fries available at street markets.
Stewed Moose Nose
Although this is a dish most familiar to Alaskans, Stewed Moose Nose has become a popular delicacy for the Chinese people of the Northernmost province of Harbin in China, and it is sold on the streets of the local area.
It is slowly stewed and served for the better part as a soup with soybeans or noodles. Both the lips and nose of the moose are used for these soup recipes, and it requires a period of tenderizing before it is cooked.
Sea Urchin With Boiled Eggs
Last but not least, here’s another sea animal that you might not want to eat any time soon. We’re talking about sea urchins which, unsurprisingly, are served with boiled eggs. Not the normal eggs but the actual eggs of those sea urchins on the plate!
To prepare this meal, Chinese chefs remove the shells from the urchins and boil the insides, including the eggs and all the mushy, pudding-like stuff you can find inside. It definitely does not sound or look appealing at all, although some people say it is worth trying. If you were a tourist in China, would you have the courage to try any of these strange dishes?
A starfish definitely sounds less unappealing than a silkworm or a rotten egg. Tourists and locals in China seem to love starfish specialties, especially the simple starfish-on-a-stick treat. Even though you might not feel like trying starfish anytime soon, keep in mind that people say it doesn’t taste bad at all!
Besides using it for meals, starfish are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as allergies, asthma, and heart disease. The inside of a starfish has a meaty texture but despite its potentially pleasing flavor, it must be difficult to snack on this meal without thinking that you are eating Patrick from Spongebob.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of scorpions? It’s certainly not to eat them! Believe it or not, scorpions are actually one of the most popular treats at the Chinese food markets. Just like starfish and silkworms, scorpions are also served on sticks.
Many food reviewers describe scorpions as crunchy snacks on the outside but very chewy on the inside. Apparently, black forest scorpions are some of the best options on the market because of their barbecue-like flavor. Others are milder and saltier in flavor, very similar to shrimp.
While some people could never even imagine eating a rat, others enjoy this treat as if it’s some sort of luxury. Rat meat is very popular in China and it also helps families in challenging economic situations get out of poverty through rat breeding.
Many claims that rat meat is not unusual at all since it has a very normal, meaty flavor. However, if you think about it, these animals don’t seem like the best choice for your next dinner. At least they can provide a good source of income for rural families in China.
Shark Fin Soup
If you ever go to China, you will find a ton of shark dishes and products sold at food markets and even in stores. One of the most popular specialties made of these terrifying sea animals is the shark fin soup that is often served for the Chinese New Year.
The soup contains all sorts of shark fins with different flavors. This meal signifies good fortune and it is served at New Year celebrations to ensure a brighter future. This dish has become so popular that an entire market for shark fin hunters formed around it.
While rat meat might not sound so bad, pig brains are where we draw the line! The brain has a mushy and soft texture similar to pudding and people use it as a side dish for many traditional Chinese meals.
Some have described pigs’ brains as savory and just unpleasant. However, this dish wouldn’t have survived for centuries in Chinese cuisine if it wasn’t a popular one. What people like about pig’s brains is the versatility, as you can do a lot of things with this side dish including frying, sauteing, and boiling.
This has to be the weirdest food you will see on this list. Yes, we are talking about actual blood products that usually come in the form of tofu-like blocks. Chinese chefs often use these products as ingredients for various soups and stews.
Something like this tastes exactly the way you would expect it to. The jelly-like structure might look like some candy but as soon as you take a bite, you will be overwhelmed by a blood-like flavor. Would you try something like this?
Believe it or not, you can go to China and ask for drunken shrimp and you will be served Pad Kee Mao, a traditional Chinese noodle dish. This is a staple dish present in nearly every Thai restaurant. You can be surprised if you don’t find it on the menu!
The name is actually quite fitting for this dish since the shrimp in the bowl are actually swimming in an alcoholic substance. Keep in mind that those are live shrimps that will actually consume the alcohol before you consume them – alive.
Many people have never even seen a seahorse in real life but locals and tourists in China regularly enjoy eating these unique animals. What’s interesting about these animals is that the male seahorse is actually the one carrying babies, not the female.
Either way, a seahorse is not something you would expect to eat for dinner or even as a quick snack. This dish is quite similar to a squid and it’s often served on a stick, like many snacks at Chinese food markets.
Unlike tofu and pig’s brains, grasshoppers are more of a crunchy snack alternative. As you probably already know, insects are a very popular snack in Asia. The practice of eating bugs has been present in Chinese cultures since 2500 BCE.
Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone offers you a fried bug during your vacation in China. Some grasshoppers even get boiled or roasted to achieve a special type of flavor. Regardless, we will have to pass on this one.