Chinese Food: Exotic Food Items to Try in China!

There is a reason why Chinese food is so popular. Chinese people LOVE to eat! Until I visited China, I had never witnessed a country commit itself to the art of eating! No other country would even come close to competing if eating became an Olympic sport. Before continuing reading, I suggest my previous post on other exotic Chinese food items. Also, I have also written about why Chinese dumplings are so significant.

Anything that moves, crawls, flies, swims, slithers, or grows? Unusual food items? Yes, please! The weirder, the better!

Chinese food is the most popular cuisine in the world!
Chinese food is the most popular cuisine in the world!

I love eating. I have spent almost a decade in China as a med student. Likewise, I spent most of my trip trying to peruse food markets in search of popular foods. It was either this or indulging in cuisine that the locals like. Thus, I curate this list of the most exotic and weird Chinese food items you must try!

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Either way, here are some of the most exotic Chinese food items in no particular order! 

Exotic Chinese Food: Some of the Best

China is a great place to experiment with your taste buds. The whole country is brimming with unconventional foods that present a challenge. 

Chinese food is a treat! The number of restaurants available is impressive, and Chinese people love eating. Everything tastes fantastic. From tiny shacks to upscale restaurants. From the cheap but delicious noodles to amazing and unique dishes.

This list allows me to revisit some of my favorite memories of trying weird foods in China. I don’t guarantee that you will like all of these foods. There are several that I would never dare eat again. However, exploring new things is a big part of every experience.

My mindset when it comes to cuisine is to give anything a try once. Of course, unless I have a strong ethical reason not to do so.  

Camel Hoof

The camel hoof, or camel toe, is unique depending on what you like to call it. The hoof is thinly sliced and stir-fried with onions, peppers, and spicy oil. A local specialty of Zhongwei, the camel hoof is very popular.

Chinese food: Camel hoof/Camel toe
Chinese food: Camel hoof/Camel toe

The best way to describe it would be a little tricky. You can compare it to biting your nail and nibbling on an old, smelly piece of steak. It was much better than it sounds and wasn’t as chewy since they had cut it thinly enough. To me, that was the one that got me thinking, “wow, Chinese food is diverse.”

Duck Tongues 

Beijing duck is, in my opinion, a Chinese experience that must be had. Due to how people feed the ducks, the duck served in these restaurants is particularly rich and fatty. It is, thus, a good idea to balance a duck dinner with some lighter vegetable dishes.

The duck head is frequently offered to you while you dine with Chinese friends. This is true, especially if you are a senior member of the group. This may be a fiddle, but it sure tastes good.

Duck tongue
Chinese food: Duck tongue

Chinese food is nothing if not worth working hard for! Duck tongues, which are frequently stir-fried, are also often ordered there. Duck tongues were meticulously taken out of the duck’s mouth before cooking. This is made up of the tongue’s actual structure and its accompanying muscles.

Fish Lips

This may sound funny, but the fish lips is a delicious dish popular with the locals. It is one of the more popular Chinese food. People prefer some fish species because their lips are very delicious. In fact, some Chinese customers would frequently order a complete fish, eat the lips and possibly the cheeks, and then leave the remaining portions of the fish unharmed.

Fish lips soup
Chinese food: Fish lips soup

After deodorization, marinate the sea fish lips in Shaoxing wine. Add chunks of a ham before serving. The fish lips are added and baked after the prepared ground chicken soup order.

Yak Butter Tea 

It resembles milk tea, but frequently has an oily butter layer on top. Yak butter tea is a staple of Tibetan culture. Therefore, I always make sure to have some on my tours. It’s fair to say that this is an acquired taste.

In so many countries, drinking tea is a highly popular favorite pastime. China, in particular, has possibly the best selection of teas accessible, with many regional specialties. 

Chinese food: Yak butter tea
Chinese food: Yak butter tea

The tea is frequently made over stoves in smoky restaurants using yak dung. Yak butter commonly complements tea in Tibet. This is because so much of the yak milk produced is turned into butter and kept in storage. Additionally, monasteries use yak butter for ceremonial purposes, such as lighting candles.

More Exotic Chinese Food Items

Sheep Penis 

Yes, you heard that correctly. … Yes. Threaded on a stick, grilled, and served hot.

Guo Li Zhuang is a restaurant brand specializing in dishes prepared from male animals’ genitals (penises and testicles). They have a wide variety of species, such as horses, oxen, donkeys, dogs, deer, goats, sheep, and snakes. All of these are popular. However, the sheep penis remains the crowd favorite.

Chinese food: Sheep penis
Chinese food: Sheep penis

Travelers travel far and wide to have a taste of this delicacy. The first fans of Chinese food are the Chinese people themselves. 

Barbecued Scorpion Sticks 

You can picture it, clear as day. Three scorpions per stick were grilled before being served whole. Although, when I first had it, I was expecting crab. There was surprisingly not much flesh—it was mostly just crispy.

It is a fact that the poison in the stinger degrades while cooking, making it perfectly safe to eat. Remove the stinger and poison glands if you want to eat raw scorpions!

BBQ scorpion sticks
Chinese food: BBQ scorpion sticks

As a crunchy snack, scorpions are a well-known Chinese delicacy that is worth trying. Not awful as people say it is.

Conclusion: Exotic Chinese Food

China is a wonder as one of the earliest civilizations ever to exist today. Everything about it is so fascinating, especially regarding the food. To know a nation and its people, you must look at their food. How they eat, what they eat, tells you a lot about them as people. What this list tells me, at least, is that Chinese people wholeheartedly love to feast!

Did you like this list of weird Chinese foods? Would you be willing to give any of these a try? Let me know! Meanwhile, if you’d like, you can keep reading. You can also check out Cloud Computing in China- Ahead of The Curve and Chinese Street Food Gems.

Happy reading!

Edited by: Syed Umar Bukhari.

By Hina Butt

Hina has spent a huge chunk of her life in China and considers it as her second home. She's a mommy of two perfect kids and now lives in Oman after moving in with her husband.
Before she started writing blog posts for SesameDisk, she got a graduate degree in Medicine(M.B.B.S) from Southeast University, Nanjing, China. During that time, just to shake things up, she went to Language school at the Shandong University in Jinan and ended up passing HSK Level 6 with flying colors.
She then worked as a GP and did a handful of practices, taught English in Chinese schools and later got into beauty blogging with some really important people who are way too dignified to be named here!
She now writes full-time.

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