Having to travel frequently between China and the U.S. growing up, I've been trained to be the best food tour guide for my American friends when they visit China. Here are a few gems to try when visiting the most popular tourist cities. 

1. Beijing 

Yes, we all know that most tourists will flock towards the famous Beijing duck, but have you heard of candied hawthorn? This was my favorite street food as a little girl because the intense, sweet and tangy flavors sent my tastebuds on a rollercoaster. As a bonus, you won't feel guilty about eating too much sugar because hawthorn is good for your heart.

2. Shanghai

If you love soup dumplings, it's time for you to up your game and try the pan-fried version, sheng jian bao. It is just as juicy as XLB but the contrast of the juicy core and crispy skin is incomparable, especially if you love fried food. 

3. Chengdu 

When I traveled to Chengdu, my favorite meal was not the Instagram-worthy boiling red hotpot, but a dish that natives often have for breakfast: chaoshou. They are wontons marinated in chili oil, peppercorn oil, and vinegar. It seems that the unique combination of spicy, numb, and tangy flavors makes the natives crave this dish as soon as they wake up in the morning. 

4. Xi'an

While visiting the terracotta warriors, don't miss out on the street food in Xi'an. Kebabs are an all-time favorite during the summer and kebab stands are a typical "hangout spot" in Chinese streets. Follow the smoke and you will be sure to find one of these stations. 

5. Qingdao

I'm sure you'll probably visit Qingdao for the beer, but if you go during the summer, don't miss out on the freshest clams that you can find at any street market. The natives say it's the perfect companion to Qingdao beer! Try clam soup noodles as well, you won't be disappointed. 

A huge component of culture is the native cuisine and one of the best things about traveling is getting to try new foods. Many of the "famous" and touristy Chinese food items can easily be found in the U.S., so when visiting China don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try things you haven't heard of.