Chinese Language Blog

3 Meals in China Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Culture, Vocabulary

One question people always have about China is “What is Chinese food really like?” Many are well aware that the kind of Chinese food that is available in their country isn’t quite like the real thing. There’s also that old saying that “Chinese people eat everything with four legs except the table.” So, what do people in China actually eat? We take a closer look at the 3 meals in China in this post. Follow the links for more detailed descriptions of each meal along with some common dishes.


早餐 – zǎo cān

Probably my favorite Chinese breakfast – 煎饼.

How does China like to start their morning? Breakfast in China is generally a small and simple meal, especially in the big cities where people are busy rushing to work. Common breakfast foods include steamed stuffed buns (包子 – bāo zi) and porridge ( – zhōu). My personal favorite is a jian bing (煎饼 – jiān bǐng), which I suppose you could call a “Chinese crepe.” Check it out along with other breakfast favorites in this short video:


午餐 – wǔ cān

A yummy bowl of noodles.

Lunch in China can either be quick and easy or an epic feast. If you’ve only got a short break, typically lunch means leftovers from home or a trip to a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The trifecta of an easy Chinese lunch is definitely noodles ( – miàn), rice (米饭 – mǐ fàn), and dumplings (饺子 – jiǎo zi). Those who have the means and the time like to enjoy a big, leisurely lunch in a nice restaurant. Take a tour of real Chinese lunch food in this short video:


晚餐 – wǎn cān

Xinjiang food – oh so delicious.

Finally, it’s time for a big meal. A Chinese dinner tends to be a marathon eating session with multiple dishes, whether it’s taken in a restaurant or at home. Dinner is usually family style, with everyone gathered around the table sharing multiple dishes. Often you’ll start out with some cold dishes (凉菜 – liáng cài), and your soup (汤 – tāng) usually comes last. Common dishes differ from region to region. Check some of them out and learn more about Chinese dinner in this video:

What Chinese food do you like to eat?
nǐ xǐ huān chī shén me zhōng guó cài

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Peter Simon:

    The question itself is not really right. You don’t ask anyone what kind of food do Europeans really eat, do you. And China is just as large as Europe but has a lot more inhabitants. Earlier posts detailing food by regions was a lot more useful to consider. Besides, the masses eat none of anything of these or those either – the masses just eat some kind of soup and/or mush/porridge and/or jiaodzi/baozi and go on working. But this is also gross generalization …

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