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Hainan Food 

enfaohn.hainan.gov.cn | Updated: 2017-12-21

Hello! I am happy to tell you about my second home: beautiful, tropical Hainan Island. But first let me introduce myself. 

My name is Elizabeth and I have been living here 9 years. I am an American and I first arrived on Hainan in 2006. I lived in Boao in Qionghai County on the east coast where I ran a small hotel known as Boao Inn B&B. I welcomed visitors from around the world and became the #1 accommodation for Hainan in the Lonely Planet Guide to China. I will be sharing articles on exploring Hainan and discovering the things that make Hainan so special.

One of the biggest challenges to travelers is knowing what the best local dishes are and where to try them. Hainan Food is said to be lighter with a mild seasoning. Seafood dominates the Hainan menu with year-round sea fish, crab, shrimp, oyster, clam, and mussel but as you move deeper into the island many local specialties emerge such as the four most famous dishes: Wenchang Chicken, JiaJi Duck, Hele Crab and Dongshan Mutton. In general, Chinese cuisine consists of three basic styles: Banquets, simple and quick dishes served by small restaurants and food stalls, and home cooking. Hainan is no exception and much has been written about the four famous dishes but there is so much more.

The cooking style of Haikou is not considered sophisticated. However, Hainan local food is very creative with dishes and snacks that make full use of the unique local ingredients such coconuts, seafood, snails, herbs and indigenous plants. 

Here's a list of Hainan food that are favorites with foreigners for their unique ingredients and delicious taste. 

Hainan Chicken Rice


Hainan Chicken Rice [Photo/www.nipic.com]

Hainan Chicken Rice is one of the most popular dishes originated from Hainan. It is now an international dish that is very popular in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore. The secret of cooking Hainan Chicken Rice lies in Wenchang chicken, fed on banyan seeds that are only found in Wenchang city of Hainan. 

Hainan Noodles


Hainan Noodles [Photo/www.nipic.com]

Hainan Rice Noodles is one of the most characteristic snacks in Hainan. It has a long history, which can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty. It's particularly popular with the residents in the regions of Haikou, Qiongshan, Chengmai and Ding'an. The noodle is also a necessity during traditional festivals for the folks take it as the symbol of auspiciousness and longevity. 

For the local people in Hainan, the rice noodles are both snack and staple food. They eat them for breakfast; they eat them during festivals, and even entertain guests with the rice noodles. Like the Cantonese invite their guests with the saying of "Come to have some soup with us." The Hainan local people invite their guests with the saying of "Come to have some rice noodles."

Hainan Rice Noodles, also called 'pickled rice noodles' by the locals, is said to originate from Minnan area (southern Fujian). The legend has it that a family surnamed Chen immigrated to Chengmai and lived by making rice noodles. As their business was booming, more and more admirers came to learn how to make the rice noodles. That's how the Hainan rice noodle got popular across the island. 

Hainan Rice Noodles are made of rice noodles and dozens of special condiments. They are white in color and thin in shape and can be served as cold-dish. People always put some fried peanuts, roasted sesame, bean sprouts, chopped green onions, shredded meat, sesame oil, Chinese sauerkraut or coriander in with the noodles and add some clear conch soup. 

Hainan Snacks

Use of rice and coconut highlights many of Hainan's snacks. Haikou people are used to eating rice noodles for breakfast. In Haikou, you will find sticky rice pair well with coconut in many delightful chewy snacks, for example, yezifan (sticky rice in coconut) and yibua (glutinous coconut rice cake wrapped with banana leaf), and dried coconut pieces.


yezifan [Photo/www.19lou.com]


yibua [Photo/www.douban.com]


Dried Coconut Pieces [Photo/www.carzy.com.cn]

Haikou style dessert 

In addition to an abundance of fresh tropical fruit, you can find various desserts in Haikou from ice creams, creamy puddings to fruity smoothies. Despite it seemingly random list of ingredients you must try qingbuliang, a cool local sweet and cold dessert soup served in a glass bowl. This tropical snack which varies slightly from town to town contains chilled coconut milk with ice, watermelon, pineapple, raisins, sweet potatoes, peas, macaroni and jujube. Chaobing, literally means "fried ice" and is a freshly made sorbet-like dessert. You choose the fresh tropical fruit which is then blended, strained, and then poured into a special device that freezes the mixture on contact. Due to extreme low temps the chilling process produces a very fine ice crystal that results in a super smooth sorbet.


qingbuliang [Photo/www.hinews.cn]

While the tropical weather may be the main reason to visit Hainan, you will be pleasantly surprised with the quality and variety of Hainan local food. I'll be sharing more local dishes and travel tips so keep checking back! Enjoy!