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Hainan Cuisine

Introduction & Highlights

Foodies will not be disappointed in Haikou. This is a destination famous for its tasty and varied cuisine, the result of a unique fusion of Hainanese traditions and cultures. You will discover a real feast for the senses.

Thanks to its proximity to the coast, Haikou enjoys a rich source of fresh seafood, including fish, prawn and crab – which can come grilled, boiled or fried. You can pick up your favourite at a market stall and then take it to a restaurant to be prepared and cooked. That’s the way here.

You will find the dishes in Haikou are typically lighter than foods found elsewhere in China and tend to be lightly seasoned too. Ingredients include coconut and various fruits, such as pineapple, mango and papaya – reflecting the tropical nature of this paradise destination.

Hainanese cuisine is natural and healthy, with so much to taste that is both delicious and nutritious.

Some of the most iconic dishes, popular with locals and visitors alike, include Wenchang Chicken. The chicken used is a breed particular to Hainan and dates back more than 400 years. It’s a boiled meat dish which offers a truly traditional taste of the island.

Salty Chicken will also tantalise your taste buds. The meat is seasoned with sea salt and left to stand overnight, before being wrapped in lotus leaves and slow baked for several hours.

Another must-dry in Haikou is the famous Hainan Noodles. The dish is usually made with dried fish, meat, noodles and vegetables. The taste is sweet and sour. This typical meal is widely available throughout Hainan. 

If you’re looking for snacks to keep you satisfied, there is no shortage of options. A popular snack in the summer is Qing Bu Liang. It’s ice-cream and cold coconut milk, with mung beans, watermelon and quail eggs among other things. It’s a real taste sensation.

You should also look out for shrimp pancakes, mango rolls and coconuts. There are so many different nibbles to try.

Also make time to experience Hainan’s Laoba Tea (Daddy Tea) culture. Sit back and relax in a traditional shop, typically found in the charming old town areas, where you can enjoy green tea, coffee and small snacks like dim sum. It’s a firm favourite with older locals, who gather to socialise over a warm drink.

Where to Experience

Have a stroll around Haikou and you will find no shortage of places to eat or to pick up snacks and drinks, bringing together all the traditional flavours of Hainan.

Typical dishes like Wenchang Chicken, Hele Crab, Jiaji Duck, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Vegetable Pot can be found in restaurants such as Happy Coast(欢乐海岸), Qiongcai Fang (琼菜坊).

Don’t forget to check out the local seafood markets too, offering a unique ‘hustle and bustle’ experience where you come face-to-face with all sorts of wonderful fresh delicacies. If you fancy something, then remember you can take it to a local restaurant to be cooked up into a tasty Hainan treat.