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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A great place to sample many of Nanjing’s specialty foods all at once is Wanqinglou in Confucius Temple.