Teaching English Overseas

Food | Teaching Jobs in China

Teaching Jobs in China |  Lifes in China

Eating Out

Much has been written about the Chinese food and overall you won't be disappointed. Most people LOVE Chinese food! Indeed, your main problem may be exercising a little self-control. It's easy to research Chinese food and learn about typical dishes in various Provinces so I won't go into this here.

However, there are times when you can have too much of a good thing and may want to experience what a western diet has to offer – namely, blandness. Never fear. There are plenty of chain restaurants e.g. MacDonald’s, KFC, Mexican fast food places and so on, as well as a la carte western restaurants, though at these you will pay prices comparable to those at home. You will also find Chinese restaurants with a 'western food' section on the menu. I was never too keen on these myself. Unless a westerner is doing the cooking it's a bit like when your auntie cooks 'Chinese food'......not the real thing. When in China, I often eat street food. Many westerners think this a dangerous exercise but when I can see food cooked in front of me, I'd choose this every time over food that might have been cooked hours before and been sitting around for who knows how long- and besides street food is almost always delicious.


There are 711s and Chinese and Western supermarkets. You will find most things you want other than perhaps vegemite and Nescafe (as you know it). In China I have rarely been able to find instant coffee that does not already contain sugar – nor on any Chinese airline for that matter. Take your own instant coffee. I always take huge jars of Nescafe and as many packets of Robert Timms coffee bags as I can squeeze into my luggage. On flights you can try to convince airline staff to give you a cup of boiling (or near boiling) water to plunge your coffee bag into. I believe legislation prevents staff from being able to walk around with boiling water. It always seems just warm to me but it beats 12 plus hours on a plane without any decent coffee! Chinese bread is full of sugar and more like cake as far as I'm concerned. It's not impossible to find bread that doesn't contain sugar but it takes a lot of hunting down, even in a place as sophisticated as Beijing or Shanghai. There's no solution to this one, other than to search for high end bakeries that might cater to expats-often located near 5 star hotels or in large shopping malls.

School or University Food

Perhaps your teaching contract carries a clause saying lunch will be provided free of charge or for a very small cost. What should you expect? This will be very basic fare. There will probably be rice, some kind of meat/egg dish and vegetables that you may or may not recognise. As with any institutionally produced canteen style food, it is likely to be pretty ordinary. If you really don't want to eat it, step outside the school/university grounds and there are likely to be a host of other (very cheap) options.


You will need to buy bottled water to drink. This is very cheap and often provided free of charge by your school. If not bottled, it will be provided in a water cooler. Water coolers are sometimes provided in apartments too but this is not guaranteed. Soft drinks are of course readily available.

Wine and beer can be had for as little or as much as you are willing to pay. Chinese or other Asian beers are very cheap and are sold in almost every local 'mixed business' shop (like a milk bar or very small supermarket). The availability of Australian, New Zealand, French or South American wines has increased over recent years. Prices are more expensive than you would pay at home but especially in the larger cities these wines can be found in wine shops and some supermarkets. Chinese wines are available but not always cheaper than the imported wines in my experience. If you're adventurous, try them all!