Kaifeng was the capital of several dynasties, so the cooking culture is very rich and colorful. Kaifeng was also the birthplace of Henan Cuisine, based on the royal cuisine of the Northern Song Dynasty
The most characteristic Kaifeng dishes include Sweet and Sour Carp with Baked Noodles, the Four Treasures Wrap and Steamed Rib with Bamboo Shoot.
For snack foods, the best area is around the train station and for Fast Food, check out the area south of Gulou Jie. There is a good variety of snack and street food here, although the best dumplings or jiaozi are found in the Diyilou Dumpling Restaurant . The Night Market on Shudianjie is also popular not only for shopping but also for good snack food.
Sweet and Sour Carp with Baked Noodles
Baked Noodle with Sweet and Sour Carp is the Kaifeng's brand dish. The dish is actually made up of two individual dishes, the baked noodle which is fried before being dried by baking, and the Sweet and Sour Carp which uses carp from the Yellow River, delicately cooked with sour and sweet sauce. When covering the baked noodle on the hot carp, the rich juice is completely absorbed by the dry noodle. This dish has been popular among the local people for over 200 years.
Four Treasures Wrap
Four treasures wrap uses deboned duck, chicken , pigeon and quail, one of each. As the name suggests, the smallest fowl is wrapped by a bigger one until it is finally wrapped by the duck. After the delicate process of preparation, the whole thing is deeply stewed. When served, the dish looks just like a ordinary duck stew, but when guests finish the outmost duck, the chicken is there, after the chicken is the pigeon until there is the quail stuffed with sliced mushroom and ham. This dish was used by Kaifeng cooking masters as a tribute to Empress Cixi at the end of the Qing Dynasty in the late 19th century.
Steamed Rib with Bamboo Shoot
Steamed Ribs with Bamboo Shoot uses fresh pork rib as its basic material. The meat is boiled to almost 80 percent cooked and then steamed over a strong fire and mixed with sliced bamboo shoots. The scent of bamboo and the richness of the meat are sufficiently infused. After the materials are cooked, the meat is mixed with pure meat soup to complete the dish. Unlike the normal ways of cooking pork in China, this dish is light and refreshing, the meat tastes soft and fragrant.
Famous dishes also include Tongzi Ji (a kind of Chicken), Huangmen Yu (Braised fish), and mashed yam. You could sample the typical Kaifeng dishes at Youyixin Restaurant (in English it means ‘another new style restaurant’). Small Steamed Buns (Guan Tang Bao Zi) is a must taste dish whilst traveling in Kaifeng, and the most famous place to taste it is the No. 1 Building Restaurant of Kaifeng (Kaifeng Di Yi Lou). Besides the small steamed buns, there are also many snacks to be had in Kaifeng, such as savory pancake, Steamed Pea Flour Cake, or Peanut Cake. You could taste these snacks at Drum Tower street and the Song Dynasty Imperial Street.