10 Must-Try Tianjin Street Food

10 Must-Try Tianjin Street Food

As a city with a rich history and unique culinary culture in Northern China, Tianjin boasts a myriad of delectable dishes that leave you craving for more. In this guide, I’ll introduce you to ten classic Tianjin foods that are definitely worth a try.

1. Jianbing Guozi (煎饼馃子) – Crispy Pancake Rolls

Features:

  • Thin and Crispy: Jianbing Guozi is a thin and crispy snack, usually filled with cucumber, scallions, sweet bean sauce, and chili sauce.
  • Multilayered Texture: The contrast between the crispy outer layer and the layers of vegetables inside creates an unforgettable texture.
  • Breakfast Classic: Often served as breakfast or a snack, it’s a daily delight for Tianjin locals.

Taste: The unique taste of Jianbing Guozi combines the freshness of vegetables with the richness of sauces, representing a quintessential part of Tianjin’s breakfast culture.

2. Goubuli Baozi (狗不理包子) – Goubuli Steamed Buns

Features:

  • Petite and Cute: Goubuli Baozi is renowned for its small and wrinkled appearance.
  • Fresh Meat Filling: The buns are typically filled with carefully selected pork and special seasonings, ensuring a juicy and tender experience.
  • Traditional Handcraft: The art of quickly wrapping the filling is a key skill in crafting these delicious buns.

Taste: Goubuli Baozi delights the palate with its savory flavor, thin yet chewy skin, and succulent meat filling, making it a classic Tianjin snack.

3. Tianjin Mahua (天津麻花) – Tianjin Twist Dough Sticks

Features:

  • Twisted Shape: Tianjin Mahua is a twisted snack with a crispy outer layer.
  • Sweet and Crispy: Often sprinkled with powdered sugar, sesame seeds, or crushed peanuts, it has a hint of sweetness and crispiness.
  • Perfect Snack: Ideal for snacking, it’s a common companion during afternoon tea or travels.

Taste: Tianjin Mahua’s flavor is both crispy and sweet, with the added touch of powdered sugar and sesame, creating an addictive treat.

4. Zhagao (炸糕) – Fried Rice Cake

Features:

  • Crispy Outside, Soft Inside: Zhagao is a fried snack with a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
  • Sweet and Fragrant: Often drizzled with syrup, it boasts a sweet and fragrant taste.
  • Popular Street Food: Street vendors frequently prepare and sell Zhagao in Tianjin’s alleys and streets.

Taste: Zhagao’s sweet and crispy profile makes it a popular street snack, especially for those with a sweet tooth.

5. Yangcun Gaogan (杨村糕干) – Yangcun Rice Cake

Features:

  • Crispy Outside, Soft Inside: Yangcun Gaogan is a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside snack, often sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  • Glutinous Rice Flavor: Made primarily from glutinous rice, it carries a unique glutinous rice flavor.
  • Variety of Flavors: Besides the original, it comes in various flavors like chocolate, strawberry, and more.

Taste: Yangcun Gaogan’s sweet and fragrant taste, coupled with the aroma of glutinous rice, makes it a popular choice among snack enthusiasts.

6. Bingtanghulu (冰糖葫芦) – Candied Fruits on a Stick

Features:

  • Fruit and Sugar Coating: Bingtanghulu is a snack where fruits (usually grapes, hawthorn, or strawberries) are coated with a sugar shell.
  • Sweet and Crispy: The outer sugar coating is sweet and crispy, while the inner fruit is juicy, creating a delightful sweet treat.
  • Street Snack: Often found as a street food, attracting both young and old customers.

Taste: Bingtanghulu’s sweet and juicy combination, with the contrast of sugar coating and fresh fruit, makes it an addictive snack.

7. Guoba Cai (锅巴菜) – Crispy Fried Rice with Toppings

Features:

  • Guoba Flavor: Guoba Cai features crispy rice (guoba) as the main ingredient.
  • Unique Texture: The guoba is often fried until it achieves a crispy exterior with a soft inside, providing a unique texture.
  • Variety of Ingredients: Guoba Cai comes with diverse toppings, including vegetables, meats, and seafood.

Taste: Guoba Cai offers a variety of flavors, combining the aroma of fried rice with the crunchiness of guoba, creating a dynamic culinary experience.

8. Shu Li Gao (熟梨糕) – Cooked Pear Cake

Features:

  • Originally Three Fillings: Initially featuring only bean paste, white sugar, and red fruits, it has expanded to include various fillings such as oranges, apples, pineapples, strawberries, chocolate, black sesame, and taro.
  • Creative Presentation: Some vendors place the prepared Shu Li Gao on paper, while others, for a unique touch, use a thin crispy pancake as a base.

Taste: Sweet as first love.

9. Miancha (面茶) – Cold Noodle Platter

Features:

  • Cold Noodle Medley: Miancha is a cold noodle platter typically consisting of cold noodles, chili sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and various toppings.
  • Refreshing Sensation: Its cool and refreshing taste makes it a popular choice during the summer.
  • Personalized Preparation: Diners can mix and match various ingredients according to their preferences.

Taste: Miancha offers a diverse flavor profile, with the combination of chili sauce and soy sauce providing a rich and refreshing taste, making it a perfect cool snack.

10. Juanquan (卷圈) – Rolled Rings

Features:

  • Juanquan is made by wrapping bean sprouts, cilantro, dried tofu, and tofu sauce in tofu skin, sealing the ends with batter, and deep-frying them.

Taste: Crispy outside, fragrant inside – it’s a snack that leaves you wanting more.

In conclusion, Tianjin’s culinary landscape is a treasure trove of flavors, textures, and aromas waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a street food enthusiast or someone with a sweet tooth, Tianjin has something extraordinary to offer. So, embark on a culinary journey through Tianjin’s bustling streets and savor these must-try local delights.

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