One of the things Dalian is famous for is the freshness of its seafood selection – fish, shrimp, crabs, shellfish, sea cucumber, sea conch, echinus, abalone, sea bream and so on. Therefore seafood is undoubtedly king of the local dining scene.
Moreover, the cooking is influenced by the city’s history. Many of Dalian’s residents have roots in Shandong province, and that’s why the dishes are featured in the style of Shandong (Lu), one of the famous eight cuisines in China. Due to the geographic location and the influence Japan had on the city, Dalian also offers a great variety of delicious Korean and Japanese dining options.
What to eat:
There are a few dishes and snacks that are a ‘must-try’ in Dalian, such as:
Stir-fried Prawns – with ginger, spring onion and spices. When cooked the prawn should have a bright look, like a red flower. Taste: fresh and tender.
Steamed Sea Bream – with ginger, spring onion, mushroom, ham pieces and bamboo shoots. A very famous Shandong dish and often served with wine.
Steamed Scallops – steamed with lima beans, shallots, wine and sauces. Served on tender, white egg pieces with vegetables and diced carrot. Taste: light and fresh.
Lantern-shaped Steamed Abalone – with seasoning of shallot, gingers and salt. Usually served with a simmering shellfish soup. Taste: fresh flavour of abalone
Men Zi 焖子 – traditional and most popular local snack with seasoning of smashed garlic, sesame, and sauces. Protein-rich and coagulated from an extract of pachyrhizus (something like potatoes)
Salted Fish and Corn Pancake (Xian Yu Bing’Zi) 咸鱼饼子 – traditional Dalian snack. Best place to taste it seems to be the Shuangshengyuan seafood restaurant.
Ban Hai Liangfen 拌海凉粉 – is seaweed that has been picked from the ocean floor. After it has dried, it has to be boiled for 8 full hours, shredded and mixed with parsley and other seasonings.
Kebab-style grills – of either beef, mutton or local sleeve-fish are also very popular among street diners.
Other delicacies include: dumplings, thin pancakes rolled with smoked meat, tea eggs and bean-milk
Where to go?
Night Market on Tianjin Jie – this location offers mouth-watering local specialities and barbeque seafood to be enjoyed while sitting outside with a cold beer or two.
New-Mart Shopping Mall – on the 5th floor of the mall is a huge food court.
Zhongshan Square & Friendship Square – here one can find plenty of small restaurants, such as the Wanbao Seafood City (No. 125, Tianjin Jie, Zhongshan District),
Tian Tian Yu Gang at Yan’an Road – a great place to find modestly priced but good seafood. Tian Tian Yu Gang has in total eleven locations in the city and is a locally well-kown restaurant brand (No. 41, Yan’an Lu, Zhongshan District).
Two famous dining streets for local Snacks – the Tianjin Walking Street and the other one can be found in Hei Shi Jiao
Dalian has numerous restaurants providing a variety of mouth-watering cuisine from the best seafood to authentic Brazilian grills. If you want to have a look at our special selection of places to enjoy delicious Dalian food, click here
Last tips: The dishes are usually salty. Make sure to tell the cook if less salt is desired. In addition to that, it is recommended for seafood lovers to avoid the period from July to August when fishing is prohibited (to protect the ocean) and the choices are limited.
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Leaving all the economic figures and business aspects aside, what makes me particularly attracted to Dalian on a personal level are the following 3 points:
While I’ve been living in Chengdu and undoubtedly grown fond of the spicy Sichuan cuisine over the past one and a half years, it always somehow felt that something’s missing to my complete culinary satisfaction – fresh seafood!
Luckily, and considering its geographic location not very surprisingly, Dalian has plenty of that.
oyster omelet for breakfast, steamed clams and spicy prawns for lunch and barbecued squid skewers for dinner – I could easily survive a year on that!
During my previous 3 visits to Dalian in 2014 and 2015, I do not remember having a meal that didn’t contain any sort of fish or other seafood.
Due to historic reasons, with the city being under Japanese rule for 40 years, and the proximity to Japan and Korea, there’s a visible influence of these 2 cultures present in the city. Not only are there a vast number of Japanese and Korean companies having their branch offices and factories in Dalian, but thousands of tourists from both countries come to visit the city every year, as well.
This results in a multitude of delicious dining options for Korean and Japanese food, which in combination with the mouthwatering Northeastern Chinese cuisine creates a true heaven of food awesomeness.
Considering that I’m a big travel enthusiast (with currently 40 countries under my belt) who’ll never give up exploring new countries, regions and cultures, Dalian’s location in Northeast China, at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, just makes it predestined for spontaneous trips to Russia, Mongolia, South (or North, if you dare so!) Korea and Japan. Seoul or Osaka, for example, can be reached by plane in one, respectively two hours.
Hopping over to the nearby islands, even farther to Korea on a ferry or a weekend visit to the nearby capital Beijing are other interesting options for short trips.
3) Flair of the city:
Situated on and spread out fairly wide across the Liaoning Peninsula, Dalian is surrounded by the Yellow Sea and has a very comfortable climate, treating its inhabitants with clear blue summer skies and a refreshing sea breeze. The vast green spaces, large city squares and the very distinctive historic architecture – which dates back to the times of Russian and then Japanese occupation – give the city of Dalian a very distinctive, lively and charming flair.