Food in Luoyang is anything but unsatisfactory thanks to its past history of serving as the capital of a number of dynasties. The most popular dish in Luoyang today is the Carp, which is not only delicious in taste but also is appealing in appearance.
The cheaper choices are Zhangji Roast Chicken and the Sour and Spicy Soup. For those with a bit of time on their hands, and traveling in group, the Water Banquet is not to be missed. Another interesting side to Luoyang dining is due to the explosive mix of of "integrated" Han and Muslim (Xinjiang) people here, much of the food here has that Muslim tinge. Kebabs and Muslim noodles can be found in almost every small restaurant bearing the Muslim scrawl.
Like most cities in China, the railway station in Luoyang is the place to stuff your stomach with cheap food. Of the many places around town, the restaurants on the left side of the Tianxiang Hotel (Tianxiang binguan), just down the road from the railway station, serve some of the best dishes with both an English menu and cheap prices.
There is also a good restaurant at 4 Anhui Lu, Ya Xiang Lou, that has some good chicken with fruit, stir fried
bean curd and fried rice, all for under RMB20. The nicest of the Luoyang restaurants is also near here, HM on Zhongzhou Zhonglu, oozes exotic charm and has some tasty dishes, for which you will have to pay more, for the cost of an ordinary one person meal here you can expect to spend around RMB50.
Carp is arguably the most beloved dish in Luoyang. It is said that in the golden olden days of Luoyang, when the capital was swathed in mystery and paved with gold, the fish itself could cost as much as a whole live ox! The dish itself is considered as a great delicacy in these parts, beloved for its tender flesh, nutritional benefits and the stylish design of each dish.
The ideal carp dish is designed with subtle skill. The carp, with its head held high above the plate, is masterfully placed, seeming to be leaping over the cabbage "gorge" at the side of the plate, a symbol of competitive spirit. The dish also is known in these parts as "Carp Leaping over the Gorge" (Liyu tiaolongmen).
The Luoyang Water Banquet (Luoyang shuixi) is not simply a drinking test, but a local cusom that has been running for over a thousand years.
There are two reasons why the banquet has its name. The main reason is that, unlike most meal customs in China, the dishes served in this banquet are brought one after another, like flowing water. The second reason is that around one third of the dishes served are soup or semi-soup ones.
Although the dishes in these banquets vary from one restaurant to another in both amount and consistency, you may be assured that Carp is included nine times out of ten.
Zhangji Roast Chicken
Zhangji Roast Chicken (Zhangji kaoji) has long been a household course in the Luoyang area, never quite as famous as its duck rivals, but a tasty dish nonetheless.
This version of the traditional roast chicken was allegedly first created through a secret recipe by a man with the surname Zhang. Nowadays this dish has become a popular dish and snack food for locals and travelers alike.
Sour and Spicy Soup
Although it may seem strange for us to place such a simple soup here, let it not be said in front of the locals that the Luoyang Sweet and Sour Soup (Luoyang bufangtang) is for simple
taste buds. Great fervor is taken by the Luoyangese in draining large bowls of this eye-watering soup, a great way to clear the tubes.
The best of these soups are made with xianggu mushroom, laver, vermicelli, and dried shrimps placed in boiling water with starch, pepper and liberal quantities of vinegar.