Cuisines of Guilin

Guilin cuisine is known for its snacks and the use of spices, especially chili. Many foods have a sour or spicy taste. Stir-frying and steaming are the most common cooking methods of Guilin Cuisine. The below are some famous Guilin snacks, food and cuisine.

◎Steamed Mung Bean and Meat Wrapped in Lotus Leaf

This renowned traditional home-style dish is made with streaky pork with skin, mung bean flour, lotus leaf, "Guilin Fermented Tofu", and all sorts of spices. The pork is stewed with soy sauce, fried with oil, and then coated with the mung bean flour. After this, it is wrapped up in the lotus leaf and put on a plate, which is steamed in a bamboo steamer over a hot fire. The end result is soft, tasty, and yellow and green in color, with the alluring scent of the lotus leaf. Fatty but not greasy, this dish is capable of clearing away heat and toxic matter and lowering cholesterol.

◎Roasted Suckling Pig  

A specialty dish of Guilin, the suckling pig is fed with glutinous rice or some other kinds of rice, which makes its meat and skin delicate. It is roasted using unique methods and skillful control of the fire. After it is cooked its skin appears to be yellow, lustrous and transparent. It is then cut it in slices after which shallot, soy sauce and white sugar are added. This succulent pork dish is incredibly tasty and crisp. In addition it can nourish the heart and beautify the face.

◎Old Duck Stewed with Gingko  

This traditional tonic dish adopts Guilin's local specialty gingko, sliced old duck, ham slices and some other various ingredients. They are put together into a ceramic pot and stewed in a bamboo steamer. The end result is a strong-tasting but clear soup, with the fresh and savory duck meat and slender gingko. This dish has natural nourishing capabilities, promotes the secretion of body fluids, and can aid in moistening the lungs among other benefits.

◎Minced Pork Fried with Osmanthus Flower

This renowned traditional tonic dish is created by frying up some fresh osmanthus flower, lean meat, eggs and various spices. The scent of the osmanthus with the minced meat is sensually overwhelming, and the yellow color of the egg aesthetically compliments the rest of the dish. Going well with wine, this dish is capable of invigorating the stomach, protecting the liver and dispelling coldness, while it benefits the kidney.

◎Steamed Bake meat with Water Chestnut

This traditional dish of Guilin is prepared by steaming peeled water chestnut, fresh lean meat, and all kinds of various condiments. This crisp and delicious dish is suitable in the winter and summer. Internally it can clear away heat, quench one's thirst, wet one's appetite, aid in food digestion.

◎Guilin Duck Wrapped in Lotus Leaf  

This renowned traditional tonic dish adopts a bare duck, dry lotus leaf, diced lean meat, ripe winter bamboo shoots, diced preserved ham, fried diced  Lipu taro, diced shiitake mushrooms, tender string beans, shrimp and spices. First the bare duck is fried until it becomes yellow in color. The diced meats and vegetables are then stir fried with the spices for while, and then stuffed into the stomach of the duck. Then the food is wrapped in the lotus leaf and steamed in a bamboo steamer over a fire. The lotus leaf smells wonderful, while the duck meat is tasty and tender, and the stuffing delicious as well. This dish is capable of nourishing the stomach, promoting the secretion of body fluids, consolidating one’s essence.

◎Fried Beef with Winter Bamboo Shoots  

This traditional home-style dish is delicately fried and consists of winter bamboo shoots (a local product of northern Guangxi), high-quality beef, agarics, shiitake mushrooms and an assortment of spices. The end result is a bright and savory concoction decorated with tender beef and fresh crispy bamboo shoots. It has yin-nourishing, blood-enriching, spleen-invigorating and stomach-nourishing capabilities.

◎Mangosteen Chicken in Steam Pot  

This renowned traditional tonic dish is made using either Sanhuang chicken meat or black chicken meat, mangosteen and some spices. Traditional Chinese medicines like the root of membranous milk vetch (Codonopsis piously) are also added, and this dish is then steamed in a pot. After the cooking is finished, the meat is aromatic and tender, and the soup is fresh and sweet.

◎Whole Chicken Stewed with Gecko

This new renowned dish was first created by Qin Yongyan, who is a chef in a class of his own, working at the Guilin Ronghu Hotel. In May of 1988, it won the gold medal in China's Second National Cooking Competition. It mixes the flavors of a young Sanhuang chicken, a pair of Geckos, longan pulp, a few slices of ham and some additional condiments. The ingredients are put into a ceramic pot with its top covered by sandpaper. They are then stewed in a bamboo steamer for two hours over a hot fire until finished. This aromatic dish has lung-moistening, cough-relieving, yang-invigorating and kidney-nourishing capabilities.

◎Griddle Cooked Beef Steak

Girdle Cooked Beef Steak (Niupai ganguo) is one of Guilin's most well known local dishes. This kind of beef steak is cooked with different seasonings, such as chili, cassia bark, and fennel. It is similar to eating hot pot, except no broth is used in the wok. Diners can control the heat to cook the meat to their specifications.

The griddle cooked beef steak tastes spicy, and its flavor is unique. It is very different from that of a Western steak. If desired, diners can add some beer to the wok to make the steak even tastier. After the steak is finished, vegetables, bean curd, pickled cabbage, noodles and a bowl of broth can be added to the wok and cooked in the steak's juices.

This delicious dish can be found at most hot pot restaurants in Guilin and Yangshuo.

◎Lipu Taro Looped Meat  

Lipu Taro Looped Meat is a famous traditional dish served in the traditional Guilin banquets. It is always found during festivals or important events. This dish is made of taro from Lipu County (104 km south of Guilin) combined with streaky pork, red pepper, garlic spread, Guilin fermented bean curd, wine, honey and many other seasonings.

Before the streaky pork and taro are steamed in bamboo steamers, they must be deep-fried in vegetable oil. The finished dish is golden in color and aromatic. The taro's flavor and the pork's freshness blend perfectly to create a wonderful dish.

In addition, this dish has certain health benefits, such as eliminating heat and purging fire, as well as softening the complexion. This famous dish is available at almost every restaurant in Guilin.

◎Chicken Ball Fried with Water Chestnuts  

With its renowned traditional flavor, this dish is delicately prepared using local chestnuts, top-grade chicken meat, fresh shiitake mushrooms and all kinds of mouth-watering spices. This fried dish is white in color, round in shape, tender in quality and very tasty. Its medicinal effects include the capabilities to nourish one's yin and replenish the kidneys.

◎Guilin Escargot

Guilin Escargot is made from a type of snails living in countryside fields. This sort of snail is large and rich in meat. They are boiled with a special Chili Sauce, Sanhua alcohol, shallot and ginger. After that, they are stir-fried with all sorts of condiments and ingredients. With a slightly spicy and vinegar tang, they are zesty and appetizing. It takes a special skill to get the meat out of the shell, but is not very difficult to learn if you want a fun, memorable experience to share with your friends back home.

◎Oil Tea (You Cha)

Oil tea is prepared by frying tealeaves with garlic, salt, ginger, chili, possibly other ingredients and of course oil (usually peanut oil) in a wok. Water is then added and the mixture boiled. The tea, which is more like a broth, is poured through a wickerwork sieve (or tea strainer). The leaves in the strainer may be pounded with a hammer-like wooden pestle to release the flavor. Oil tea has a greeny-gray color and a strong taste. 

It is good for waking one up in the morning due to the caffeine content. It is drunk or spooned from bowls, and what in the West might be regarded as breakfast cereals – puffed rice and cereal balls, along with crispy fried dough sticks and peanuts - are added to the broth.

◎Water Chestnut Cake  

The main ingredient in this local snack is rice flour, which is first put into a wooden mold shaped like a horse hoof. Various fillings including brown sugar, water chestnut powder and sesame powder are then added. The cake is then steamed over a hot fire and, when taken out, is ready to eat. Easy to make, Water Chestnut Cakes can also be quite soft and tasty to munch on. They are generally made and sold on the spot by individual stall-keepers scattered on the streets throughout the city. Passersby can buy and eat them on the spot, making it a very convenient snack.

◎Glutinous Rice with Mung Bean Paste  

Steamed top-grade glutinous rice made into lumps is the main ingredient in this snack. Sweet mung bean paste is used as a main filling, accompanied by some fried sesame and shallots, oil and rice. This scrumptiously filling snack is full of flavor. Occasionally sausage and boiled beef are used as special fillings. In Guilin, this snack is often eaten for breakfast.

◎Guilin Water Glutinous Rice Cake  

This snack is made by steaming some top-grade glutinous rice and grinding it until the rice melts like lumps of cotton. The glutinous paste is then taken out and made into balls, which are steamed in a bamboo steamer. Most of the rice cakes have fillings such as mung bean paste, lotus seed paste, sesame and osmanthus sugar. The quality can vary. It is best eaten hot and accompanied by white sugar or cooked bean flour. This is one of Guilin's most renowned snacks.


A dumpling made from glutinous rice and mung bean paste wrapped in a bamboo or banana leaf, is another popular delicacy in Guilin. Zongzi has a history of over 2,000 years. It is most famous for its connection to China's Dragon Boat Festival. This festival honors the great poet Qu Yuan who lived in the Warring States Period (403-221 BC), who being unhappy with the political situation committed suicide by drowning himself. The local people fearing that Qu Yuan's body would be consumed by fish threw Zongzi into the river to feed the fish.

Zongzi, can be filled with a variety of fillings. There are bean Zongzi, chestnut Zongzi, pork Zongzi, and lotus seed paste Zongzi, just to name a few. In China different areas have different styled fillings. Guilin, for example, has traditionally made Zongzi stuffed with taro, pork, preserved pork, and chestnuts. The best part about this traditional Chinese food is that it can be refrigerated and when wanted, just heated in a microwave.

◎Guilin Rice Noodles  

Guilin rice noodles have been the local breakfast staple since the Qin dynasty and are renowned for their delicate taste. Legend has it that when Qin troops suffering from diarrhoea entered this region, a cook created the Guilin rice noodles for the army because they had trouble eating the local food.

Guilin rice noodles are made from oil and rice flour. The noodles are cooked in broth and served in a bowl of soup made from pork, beef, garlic, peanuts, peppers, and radishes. The peppers are added by the diner, so visitors who do not like spicy food can simply not add it.

◎Nun Vegetarian Noodles

The essence of Guilin Nun Noodles is in its soup. The soup is boiled for a long time with soybean sprouts, fresh straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and winter bamboo shoots. The soup is golden in color, sweet in taste, and has a mouth-watering smell. The noodles are first boiled and then put into bowls where the soup is added. It is served with Guilin Fermented Tofu, scrambled eggs, vegetarian ham, gluten flour and some spices. The fresh-cooked dish is very tasty, and the smell and color are pleasant as well. The Crescent Moon Building in Seven Star Park enjoys a great reputation for its Nun Noodles.

◎Fengli (Rice lump)  

Finely grind of top-grade rice into paste, scrub it into small cylinders, steam it until its 80% done, take it out and dry it, and you have Fengli. In Guilin, Fengli is often on the market in winter after Spring Festival. Before being eaten, it is usually cut into strips, and fried with preserved ham, celery, cauliflower or green garlic. The end result is bright in color and delicious in taste.

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