Dining in Nanjing

Purple Mountain, Nanjing
Traditional Nanjing dishes are based on the Huai-Yang style, one of four major schools of Chinese cuisine and are notable for the emphasis placed on original flavor and carefully selected raw ingredients. Nanjing dishes are traditionally bright in color and use only a moderate amount of seasoning but a significant amount of oil.

By weeding through the old to bring forth the new, Nanjing chefs have come up with a myriad of dishes that guarantee to beguile the palate. To name a few: Full-duck banquet of Nanjing; Red Chamber' Banquet, Triple-headed Banquet, and Jasper Flower Banquet of Yangzhou; banquets formerly reserved for Emperor Qianlong in Zhenjiang; Across-the Yangtze Banquet of Wuxi; refreshments and tea-serving banquet of Suzhou; and Banquet of Eight Immortals of Nantong. There are also many local delicacies in Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Zhenjiang and Yangzhou.

The specialties that should be sampled include: Jinling roast duck, steamed duck cutlets, salted duck, Longchi carp and "Eight delicacies soup". The "Eight delicacies" are: fish, water chestnut, lotus root, vine, parsley, arrowroot and lotus seeds. This is a popular dish especially around "Moon Festival" time (roughly around the middle of August). There are numerous classical restaurants serving up these delicacies and the area around the Confucius Temple has some great places to taste good Nanjing food.

Western and Japanese food is also becoming increasingly popular and there is a good selection of Western and Chinese food available around the universities of Shanghai Lu. Of course, the big hotels such as The Hilton and The Jinling also have good restaurants. McDonalds and KFC are hugely popular here.

Nanjing Steamed Duck
As early as 1910, the Nanjing steamed Duck cutlet was awarded a national award by the Qing government and is now popular in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. This dish is characterized by its appetizing appearance and tender and delicate taste.

The cooking process involves steeping, boiling, braising and baking the duck. The best places to taste this are the snack bars around the Confucius Temple area of the city.

Salted Duck

Delicious and tender salted duck is a Nanjing specialty, rich in flavor but not too greasy. Salted duck hangs from many city shop windows and the best time to purchase and eat the duck is said to be August when the duck is seasoned with Osmanthus flowers and has a delicate flavor. 

The best place to sample this dish is in the Wan Qing Lou Restaurant in the south of the city.

Jinling Snacks
Jinling is the former name given to Nanjing and today it is not only the name of the tasty beer brewed in the city but also the name associated with the local traditional snacks which are named after the area. These snacks originate in the Confucius Temple area of the city. 

This district has long been the center of Nanjing cuisine and today there are many great restaurants and snack bars around here where you can sample traditional Jinling snacks. Local specialties include: deep fried dough cake with scallion and salted duck gizzard.

Duck Blood Soup
The name of this dish may sound odd to foreigners who might wonder how the blood and soup is combined. Actually Chinese people do eat the blood of duck, goose and chicken but in a unique way. They collect the blood of a freshly killed duck or goose and stir, then seal and refrigerate until ready to use. The result is blood cakes. The soup is seasoned with salt, pepper, and subtly spicy undertones. Simmer gently for several minutes and serve with eggs, noodles and caraway. This food is the top of all travelers' recommendations. The cheap stalls at Confucius Temple dining street sell the best at 3.5 Yuan

Dou Fu Nao (Tofu pudding)
This is a great breakfast-time soup dish made from tofu (bean curd), mushrooms, coriander and chilli. The best place to taste it is Liu Feng Ju.