Egg shaomai – Made with fresh shrimp paste enveloped in a thin wrapper made from egg, Ma Xiang Xing's egg shaomai is like a bite-size seafood omelet.
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Hairy crab – From mid-September to mid-October, restaurants around town celebrate hairy crab season. But the best place to crack those shellfish for their sweet meat and buttery paste is in their breeding ground -- Gaochun County.
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Tangbao – Tangbao are dumplings packed with pork meat and chicken broth in a paper-thin wrapper.
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Salted duck – Salted duck is a cold dish usually served as an appetizer or as a snack with alcohol. The best salted duck has pale skin and pink meat, like this.
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Jinling roast duck – Nanjing's roast duck may be lesser-known than its northern counterpart Peking duck, but it's no less satisfying.
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Sweet and sour Mandarin fish – Mandarin fish is the perfect example of Jinling cuisine (what Nanjing food is called locally). Preparation requires delicate skill and there's an emphasis on appearance.
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Pan-fried beef dumplings – The halal beef dumpling is one of Nanjing's eight traditional Qinhuai treasures -- famous street food that represents the city. For the complete experience, pan-fried beef should be paired with beef soup.
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Duck blood vermicelli soup – The ingredients of the duck blood vermicelli soup -- duck-blood curd and offal -- may be thrown away elsewhere, but not in Nanjing. The waste-turned-treasure soup has become a favorite Nanjinger cheap eat.
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Nanjing, China (CNN)The emperors may have left town, but the food in China's ancient dynastic capital of Nanjing is still fit for royalty.
In a nation obsessed with food, the dishes served up here are among the most delicious and delectable.
Jiangsu Province -- Nanjing is the capital -- is home to one of the most influential cuisines in China.
Known for their exquisite presentation, Nanjing's homegrown dishes provide some of the tastiest examples of Jiangsu cuisine.
Here are eight essential orders.
Nanjing is a city with duck fever -- from marinated to roasted, from duck meat to duck blood.
As the local saying goes, "Without duck, it's not a proper meal."
Salted duck is a cold dish usually served as an appetizer or as a snack to accompany alcohol.
Plum Garden's salted duck is marinated in a special brine that keeps the meat tender and imbues it with a slightly salty flavor.
There's a never-ending debate about where roast duck was invented -- it's called Peking duck in Beijing and Jinling duck in Nanjing.
According to one legend, Ming Dynasty emperor Zhu Di brought his favorite roasted-duck chefs with him from his Nanjing palace when he moved the capital to Beijing.
Though less celebrated internationally, Jinling duck is hardly inferior to its northern counterpart. Crisp and greasy duck skin with juicy and tender flesh is the standard formula of this satisfying dish.