China's top 10 foodie cities

A man checks his change after buying roasted duck in Shanghai

1: Chengdu

Chengdu is no doubt the most popular place for gourmet aficionados. It is the birthplace of Sichuan cuisine, one of China's four major styles of cooking. In 2010, Chengdu was designated the "Capital of the World's Gourmet Food" by UNESCO, the first city in Asia to receive the honour. It is best represented by its hot pot cooking, spicy bean curd and Kung Pao chicken.

2: Guangzhou

Guangzhou has numerous time-honoured restaurants, noted dishes, and flavor food. Drinking tea and soup are daily habits of Guangzhou people.

3: Beijing

Beijing is not only a gathering place for food and delights in China, but also all over the world. You can taste almost anything you want without going abroad. Traditional food and exotic food provides you many choices.

4: Xiamen

As an important branch of Southern Fujian cuisine, Xiamen cuisine is mainly served steamed, fried and stewed. Dishes are usually fresh and light in flavor, and are sometimes slightly spicy. Famous offerings include seafood and vegetarian treats.

There are more than 200 varieties of Xiamen snacks, with rice dumplings, fishball soup, oysters and barbeque sauce noodles proving most popular.

Fresh seafood is available in almost every restaurant in the city. The most recommended eatery is Xiaoyanjing food stall, located in Hubin Middle Road. The restaurant serves up fresh seafood at reasonable prices. Reservations should be made in advance.

5: Shanghai

Salted fish and meat feature important food at the Spring Festival in Shanghai. The modern city is also famous for its tangbao, or soup dumplings, which are classic steamed buns delicately harbouring pools of delicious meat juices.

6: Hangzhou

Hangzhou cuisine places emphasis on fresh sea or river produce, and the seasonings are all lighter than strong northern preferences. You will never see a dish covered in sticky brown sauce, or heavily spiked with star anise or cumin.

The natural flavors of the ingredients are carefully nurtured on the plate, and that is why it is such an attractive culinary choice in these days of health and safety concerns.

7: Nanjing

Fresh flavors and artful kitchen skills combine to make the food of the Yangtze region a universal favourite even among Chinese gourmets stubbornly faithful to their home cuisine.

8: Xi'an

With thousands of years of history growing wheat, Xi'an is home to many kinds of flour-based food. Even the simple noodle has different shapes and tastes.

Paomo is a specialty of Shaanxi cuisine. It is a hot stew of chopped-up steamed leavened bread cooked in lamb broth and meat, or with lamb substituted with beef.

9: Chongqing

Hotpot is popular in Chongqing. While the soup is simmering over a flame, meat and vegetables are placed into the pot to cook, and diners can pick out the items when they are ready to eat. Chongqing hotpot is famous for its spicy flavors.

10: Changsha

Changsha is known for its connection to all things red; one important connection is the endless array of dishes prepared with raw, stir-fried, pickled and dried red chili peppers.