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Dalian's specialty is seafood and is cosmopolitan in its international restaurant choices. For excellent dim sum head to the Shangri-La Hotel's Shang Palace (Renmin Lu 66; tel. 0411/8252-5000). A cluster of Japanese restaurants are around Yan'an Lu, south of Zhongshan Guangchang. A number of fast-food outlets such as McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks can also be found at Shengli Guangchang and on Qingniwa Jie. The underground market has a large food court with several point-to-choose Chinese stalls. Youhao Guangchang boasts a couple of burger and pizza restaurants.

Dumplings & Dog Meat

Generally speaking, food is not one of Dongbei's finer attractions, but there is at least one aspect of Dongbei cuisine that will appeal to epicures: the delectable meat- and vegetable-filled ravioli-like dumplings known as jiaozi. Cheap and satisfying, jiaozi are popular all over China but are nowhere as divine as in the Northeast. Cooked in one of three ways -- boiled (shuijiao), steamed (zhengjiao), or pan-fried (jianjiao) -- they are most commonly filled with a mix of pork and cabbage (zhurou baicai) and served with a soy-and-vinegar dipping sauce, to which you add your own chopped garlic, chili oil, and mustard. Alternatives are endless. Absolutely not to be missed.

Probably more well known but significantly less appetizing is dog (gourou), Dongbei's other signature food. A Korean import shunned by Manchurians but valued among Chinese for its warming properties, it is a winter item most commonly eaten in hot pot. Dog meat turns greenish when boiled; trying it, according to one traveling companion of mine, is "like eating a piece of beef then licking a filing cabinet."

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.