Guide to Nanjing Specialty Food  

Last updated: Feb 05, 2013  Posted: Jun 05, 2006
Jiangsu ProvinceNanjingChina
Restaurants in Nanjing
Author: Tai-Te
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Nanjing has many famous specialty foods.  Some of these are unique to Nanjing and others are found all over China but get a special twist in Nanjing.


The quality and quantity of duck eaten in Nanjing has earned it one of it’s many nicknames - "Yadu" (鸭都) or "Duck Capital".
Nanjing Salty Duck (Nanjing Yanshui Ya, 南京盐水鸭)
Nanjing Salty Duck has been produced in Nanjing for over 1000 years and is widely thought of as the number one Nanjing specialty.  The skin is lightly coloured and the meat is tender.
Bagged Salty Ducks can be found in all the tourist markets.  Fresh ducks can be bought at butchers shops and grocery stores.
Baked Duck (Shao Ya, 烧鸭)
This is less famous than the Salty Duck but more likely to be popular with foreigners.  It is soaked in dark sweet and salty sauce to add flavour.
Fresh Shao Ya can be bought in butcher shops and some grocery stores.
Nanjing Shaoya (Baked Duck with Sauce)
Duck Blood and Sweet Potato Starch Noodle Soup (Yaxue Fensi Tang, 鸭血粉丝汤)
This soup contains congealed blocks of ducks blood and thin noodles made from sweet potato starch.  It is a dish that is loved by some and avoided by others.
Duck Blood Soup can be found at many specialty restaurants such as Yingshi on Lion’s Bridge.
Duck Blood Soup


Fried Beef Dumplings (Niurou Goutie, 牛肉锅贴)
They are what they sound like – Oily but delicious fried beef dumplings.  Perhaps this dish is not native to Nanjing but some will swear that the fried beef dumplings in Nanjing are the best.
These can be found at small hole-in-the-wall vendors across the city.  Maxiangxing, near Hunan Road serves Fried Beef Dumplings in a seemingly cleaner environment.
Fried Beef Dumplings
Steamed Dumplings (Zhenjiao, 蒸饺)
Steamed dumplings are found all over China but Nanjing’s steamed dumplings are made to be less oily.  Try the pork (猪肉) and fragrant mushroom (香菇) steamed dumplings.
Steamed dumplings can be found in the same places that the fried dumplings are found.
Steamed Dumplings
Soup Dumplings (Tangbao, 汤包)
Dumplings with chicken broth inside them are a favourite of both locals and visitors.
Soup dumplings can be found in many restaurants.  One of the more popular restaurants can be found on Lion’s Bridge.  They do not sell any dishes besides soup dumplings and duck blood soup.
A basket of soup dumplings

Other Meaty Dishes

Sour Vegetable Fish Soup (Suancai Yu, 酸菜鱼)
The spicy “Sour Vegetable Fish” soup actually comes from Sichuan province, but it has gained such popularity in Nanjing that it is considered a Nanjing specialty by many.  A big bowl of Sour Vegetable Fish makes a good centerpiece for a meal.
It can be found in most restaurants.
Suan Cai Yu - Sour Vegetable Fish Soup
Crawfish (Xiao Longxia, 小龙虾)
A big bowl of spicy crawfish is a meal on its own.  It is often complimented with some small snacks or thin bread.
Crawfish can be found year long, but the large fresh ones can usually only be found between May and October.  It can be bought in grocery stores and restaurants.  Indeed, some restaurants only sell crawfish.  There is one restaurant on Lion’s Bridge that specializes in crawfish.
Longxia - Crawfish
Return to Sauce Tofu (Hui Lu Gan, 回卤干)
This tofu is first stif-fried in excessive oil and then placed back in a broth to be boiled. The result is something similar to fried tofu except with a soft inside inebriated with the flavours of the broth.
The tofu on the right is served in chicken soup broth with bean sprouts.  It can be found in many places, including Maxiangxing.

 A small bowl of return to sauce tofu


Luhao (芦蒿)
Luhao is a green vegetable that is grown in freshwater lakes nearby.   It is usually stir-fried and served on it’s own as a side dish or with toufu.  Although some will say that it can only be found in Nanjing, the truth is that it can be found in other cities in China as well.  However, it is quite popular in Nanjing.
 Luhao - A special green vegetable
Stinky Tofu (Chou Doufu, 臭豆腐)
Stinky Tofu is Tofu that is marinated in brine and allowed to ferment for several days.  How long it ferments for, what the brine is made out of and the type and texture of tofu are all factors that affect the end product.  It is possible to have different tasting toufu just as there are different varieties and strengths of cheeses.  Because of this variety, many cities in China each count stinky tofu as one of their unique specialties.  It is usually served with hot sauce but can also be served with other toppings.  Note: in the picture on the right, it is served with pork.
Stinky Tofu can be found at street vendors, restaurants, grocery stores.
 Nanjing Style Stinky Tofu
Five Fragrance Egg (Wuxiang Jidan, 五香鸡蛋)
A nutritious snack, five fragrance egg is an egg boiled in a broth composed of anise, cinnamon, ginger, other herbs and sometimes tea leaves.  It is left to simmer in the broth for hours.
Five Fragrance Eggs can be found in convenience stores and grocery stores.  However, eggs as flavourful as the home-made ones in the picture can be harder to find.
 A bowl of Five Fragrance Eggs
Zhuangyuan Beans (Zhuangyuan Dou, 状元豆)
Zhuangyuan Beans are not only a Nanjing specialty but are even specifically called a Confucius Temple (夫子庙) specialty.  These are large beans that are baked with various types of seasoning.  There are many flavours, some of which are a bit over the top so ask for a sample before buying so as to assure you get a flavour that you like.
Zhuangyuan Beans can be bought at specialty hole-in-the-wall vendors as well as grocery stores.
Zhangyuan Beans
A great place to sample many of Nanjing’s specialty foods all at once is Wanqinglou in Confucius Temple.



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