“Best-in-my-life culinary experiences”

A touching testimonial describing the unforgettable experiences of my 2018 Culinary Tour of China, along with many mouth-watering photos taken on the tour.

A few months have past since my 2018 Culinary Tour of China, a fourteen-day trip with some of my blog readers, exploring six of China’s most culinary diverse cities. It was an unforgettable journey packed with mouth-watering food, hands-on cooking, inspiring conversation and eye-opening discoveries. I really enjoyed the company of my very enthusiastic tour members as we immersed ourselves in the culinary delights of China’s regional cuisine. 

Recently, Jason, one of my tour members, wrote a touching testimonial about his experiences. I’m sharing his thoughts in this post as a summary of the  tour, and as a reminder to myself of all the lovely moments we spent together.

Jason, 36-year-old, electrical engineer from Tennessee, USA. 

My mom and I attended Wei’s 2018 Culinary Tour of China and loved it! I’m writing this testimonial to encourage Wei to keep up the good work and to encourage any prospective guests to take advantage of this great experience! I would absolutely go again if the opportunity came up.

Best-in-my-life culinary experiences

I am so glad we found Wei’s culinary tour. It was excellent, a great experience for both my mom and I. From unique fine-dining experiences, to delicious street food, to fun home-cooking, to popular restaurants, to grocery-store snacks, we ate and drank our way across China! I had a double-handful of best-in-my-life culinary experiences on this trip, including the best beef noodle soup I’ve ever had, best fresh fish, best báijiǔ (白酒, Chinese liquor made from grain), and several other great experiences.

New & unfamiliar food in the best way possible

On the trip, we were introduced to foods and recipes that I’m going to incorporate into my own family’s diet: such as the delicious cucumber salad from the Beijing cookery  class, or the use of Sichuan peppercorn powder. I have had a reasonably wide exposure to Chinese cuisine and can even speak a few hundred words in Chinese, but probably half of what we ate on the tour was new and unfamiliar to me in the best way possible.

Very special behind-the-scenes visits

Besides hitting all the standard tourist attractions you wouldn’t want to miss, I enjoyed our cookery classes, where we got practical guided experience making dumplings and stir-fry dishes. I am especially pleased that I got to learn more about the preparation and history of Kung Pao Chicken, a dish I’ve enjoyed since childhood. I loved our visit to the Sichuan Cuisine Museum. 

There were many once-in-a-lifetime experiences on this trip. Even if I end up visiting China again every 5-10 years for the rest of my life, this trip is going to stand out with experiences that I could never reproduce. We enjoyed some very special behind-the-scenes looks at several restaurants, even talking and drinking with the chefs. I would be much too shy to do this on my own, even if I had the connections. Wei is a great facilitator!

A smooth and comfortable journey

Wei is very good at dealing with all the administrative matters. She is very organized and great with communication both before and during the trip. Wei took us on a whirlwind tour covering 6 major cities, on two domestic flights, three high speed rail trips, many assorted taxis, and some subway, bus trips. Our experiences on the road were smooth, comfortable and without incident.

Wei made a great itinerary and handled all the details. Arrangements for culinary activities and tourist sites were no problem and what would have been intimidating or impossible for us on our own was relaxed with Wei. I am sure Wei put in a lot of behind-the-scenes effort to create a great experience for us. I am confident that even someone completely new to China will have a great time. Wei will take care of you!

Apart from Jason’s testimonial, I have selected the following pictures that I took during the tour. To view more photos and videos of the journey, check my Instagram account red.house.spice (or search #culinarytourofchina ). There are also many instagram stories highlighted on my page.

Hand-pulled noodles in a richly spiced beef broth, topped with shaved beef, daikon slices, herbs and chilli oil, the legendary Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup (兰州牛肉面) is the reason why we went to visit Lanzhou. It’s one of the most loved dishes during the tour.
We had a precious opportunity to walk into the kitchen of a popular Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup restaurant (named 1915牛肉面). This young chef showed us how to stretch a piece of dough into noodles of up to 9 different sizes (Click HERE to watch the action).
We were warmly welcomed by a local family in Xi’an and my tour members learned dumpling preparation from scratch (including mincing meat with a heavy cleaver). The friendly host also cooked us many other scrumptious dishes. What a feast!
We had a wonderful country-style lunch at the foot of the Great Wall, suburb of Beijing city. This grilled trout (烤虹鳟鱼) with chilli powder and cumin, one of the local specialities, was certainly the star of the meal.
The cooking class in Beijing was action packed. We learnt three stir-fry dishes, dumplings folded in three ways, hand cut noodles and a delicious cucumber salad. Tour member Jason got “hands on” to cook his childhood favourite “Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁)”.
A very special meal delivered by a master chef Yu Shifu (于师傅) of Shandong Cuisine (鲁菜), one of the Four Major Cuisines of China (四大菜系) famous for its wide selection of materials and use of different cooking methods.
Yu Shifu (于师傅) is such an interesting yet discrete character. Running a very humble restaurant with his wife, he occasionally hosts a supper club to feed his gourmet friends across the city. We were so honoured to be there and enjoyed wonderful dishes from his private menu.
An outstanding meal prepared by a Sichuan cuisine master chef who runs a discrete restaurant providing unique fine dining experiences. These are our nine savoury appetizers and two sweet snacks served before a series of warm dishes. We were really impressed by the artistic look and the sophisticated flavour of this feast.
For two mornings in Hangzhou, we had breakfast in a small neighbourhood cafe which serves the most typical Chinese breakfast dishes: Doughnut stick (油条,), Hot soy milk (豆浆), Steamed buns (包子), Wonton soup (馄饨) and Soybean pudding (豆腐脑).
We visited a residential area in Xi’an where locals buy their breakfast from street stalls. We were so impressed by this man’s Spiced Beef Flatbread (香酥牛肉饼) that we had to head back a second time to get more (Click HERE to watch how they were make).
Flaky, crispy and incredibly flavoursome, this Spiced Beef Flatbread (香酥牛肉饼) made a great start of our food adventure in Xi’an.
The cooking class at Sichuan Cuisine Museum was great fun. Even if I’ve been cooking Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) for years, I still learnt something new from this experience. Afterwards, we all received a Rookie Master Chef Certificate to bring home.
Tasty lunch in Longjing village (龙井村), Hangzhou. We particularly liked two dishes: ① Fried Tangyuan (炸汤圆, bottom right). The sweetness from the black sesame seed filling and the saltiness from the preserved potherb mustard make a very interesting combination. ② Steamed lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice ( (糯米莲藕, bottom left), a pretty dish with wonderful texture & flavour.
Lanzhou’s busiest night food market attracts foodies from all over China. There are so many different kinds of street food to taste and we wish we had a bigger belly!
We had some Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包, pan-fried pork buns) in a time-honoured restaurant. Love the golden, crispy wrapper and the juicy, flavoursome filling. A must try in Shanghai!
Wandering around a popular street market in Xi’an which sells fresh produce on a daily basis, my tour members learnt about many unfamiliar ingredients: Fresh bamboo shoots, lotus roots, century eggs, winter melon, etc.
We walked deep into a field of tea trees at Longjing village (龙井村) which grows the most prestigious green tea in China. Although it had passed the harvest season, the lovely tea fragrance is still in the air. Afterwards, we bought some Longjing Tea (龙井茶) from local tea farmers.
We also had wonderful tea experience in Lanzhou. The local speciality San Pao Tai (三泡台, aka Eight Treasure Tea) pleased my tour members. It’s a sweet, fragrant drink consists of loose tea leaves, Chinese dates, longan, rosebuds, rock sugar, etc.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone who have supported and helped me to make my first Culinary Tour of China come true. All the positive experience and feedback has encouraged me to set off on another journey in 2019 (Please click the link below to view the full 2019 Itinerary).

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

4 thoughts

  1. Wei, Congratulations on your first tour! This looks absolutely amazing. What an incredible experience, and such an insider’s perspective on all these different places. I’m hoping to join you some day!

  2. Wei, you did an outstanding job touring us through China. Thank you so much!

    The highlights of the trip for me were the Great Wall of China and the two days at Lanzhou. Coming into Lanzhou was SO surprising! It’s a HUGE modern city sticking up in the midst of a dry, barren desert, a place of firsts for me. My favorite foods were, of course, Lanzhou beef noodle soup and san pao tai, a delicious, sweet fruit and flower “tea”. I LOVED rafting the Yellow River on a branch framework over air-filled sheepskins. After the raft ride, we sat in a park pavilion drinking more san pao tai — very Lanzhou!

    The Great Wall was spectacular as was the “country-style lunch”: grilled trout wood-fired with cumin, ma la tofu, delicious scallion pancakes and deep-fried, tender sichuan peppercorn leaves with numbing peppercorn powder, my favorite!

    Wei, you did an excellent job arranging delicious meals in each city. Apart from that, two things I came away with are how high tech China is and how skilled and calm the drivers are despite the HEAVY traffic.

    1. Thank you so much Michele for your kind words and interesting thoughts. It was my great pleasure to showing you the culinary culture that I grew up with. I really enjoyed our conversations about food, culture and life along the journey. Thank you again for your trust and your great company on my first ever Culinary Tour of China.

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