These four bustling roads are proof of Nanjingers’constant craze for a hearty bite.
Eateries of all cuisines, budgets and sizes are crammed into the 300-meter neon-lit strip: from grand multi-story establishments cooking Nanjingese, Sichuanese or Cantonese feasts to hole-in-the-wall stalls grilling lamb kebabs.
Foreign fare is also on the table, such as Punjabi food from India and Japanese teppanyaki.
A popular place among the locals on the pedestrian street is Nanjing Impressions.
The two-story restaurant, with a grand façade of hanging lanterns, mixes local food, culture and drama in one sizzling pot. Diners select some of Nanjing’s most iconic dishes from open kitchens, such as duck blood soup and duck soaked in brine.
All staff don traditional Chinese dress and a live performance of Chinese opera is staged every night.
Another must-try is the time-honored Yinnianjin Dumpling Store which sells juicy and savory steamed pork dumplings.
Shiziqiao Pedestrian Street, between Hunan Road and Hubei Road, Gulou District 鼓楼区湖南路与湖北路之间狮子桥美食步行街
An offshoot from Nanjing’s busiest crossroads, Xinjiekou, the noisy, pungent and lively alleyway forks over a wide array of cook-before-your-eyes delicacies to leave even a seasoned gourmet spoilt for choice.
The roughly 200-meter road starts near Shigu Road with booths selling everything from grilled octopus skewers to fried chicken wings to egg pancakes.
Sauntering further down, there are a number of sit-down restaurants, each enjoying a legendary reputation in Nanjing.
YijiPidu Noodles serves massive bowls of noodles topped with sliced, deep-fried pig skin. Next to it, Bianrou Wonton boils Fujian-style purse-shaped dumplings with crunchy fillings. LaotouGai Jiao Fan is the stop for rice devotees.
South to Mingwalang is Daxianglu, a laid-back street-market with vendors pitching marinated duck necks or frying tofu skins from home stores.
Mingwalang Food Street, between Shigu Road and Sanyuan Xiang, Baixia District 白下区石鼓路和三元巷之间, 明瓦廊美食街
Confucius Temple (夫子庙)
In this tourist magnet also known as Fuzi Miao, eating is just as important as worshipping the great philosopher.
Squeeze into these ever-humming lanes to spot small but reputable shops, specializing in the snacks that express the city’s history.
Highlights include the dumplings in sweet red-bean soup from Lianhu Rice Cake Shop (莲湖糕团店), sesame pancakes from Qifangge (奇芳阁) and tofu jelly from Liufengju (六凤居).
Numerous self-serving open-kitchen canteens along the main road, GongyuanJie (贡院街), put most of the city’s signature dishes under one roof.
Two time-honored restaurants Wan Qing Lou (晚晴楼) and QinhuaiRenjia (秦淮人家)are dedicated to serving the Qinhuai Eight Treasures (秦淮八绝), a snack banquet featuring eight pairs of iconic nibbles that originated along Qinhuai River.
Fuzi Miao, Metro Line 1 SanshanJie Station, Qinhuai District 秦淮区父子庙, 地铁1号线三山街站
Away from shopping malls and throngs of tourists, the night-time kebab market accommodates a typical local’s night out in a down-to-earth neighborhood.
Around a dozen vendors line up on one side of the semi-transparent glass house, cooking iconic Chinese street foods: kebabs, fried rice and mini hot-pots. Diners choose their dishes from open kitchens then pig out in the seating section on the other side.
Most sticks cost RMB 1-2 (US$0.16-0.32).
There are more kebab restaurants on Hehui Road for hardcore skewer fans who like not only eating but also grilling their own sticks.
The best time to hit Sanpailou is in summer when crowd after crowd of Nanjingers stream in for a late-night bite in the market, on the streets or in restaurants.
Sanpailou Da Jie near HehuiJie, Gulou District 鼓楼区三牌楼大街, 近和会街