Harbin is so very near to Russia, its food gives visitors a wide selection of Western cuisine along with plenty of unique Chinese dishes. You can find several restaurants that serve filling Russian-style soups and meals. Try the Russian dishes at the highly recommended Huamei Restaurant or Café Russia known for its delicious piroshkis (stuffed Russian buns) and cabbage rolls.
If you prefer to stick with Chinese food, there are many different cuisines available. Lanterns hanging outside the Chinese restaurants indicate the food offered within, a practice unique to Harbin. Red lanterns denote typical Chinese food, while blue lanterns mean Muslim food (no pork). It is also said that the more lanterns a restaurant has, the higher the standard of cooking it has to offer.
The fare is tasty as it is varied. Enjoy cheap BBQ at the loud Mingjie Kaoroudian or the steamed dumplings at Oriental Dumplings King. Some local Harbin dishes you may wish to try: Harbin Red Sausage Harbin red sausage has a pleasant smoky taste. It is usually eaten with "big bread" (da lieba) and beer. Buy the red-colored sausage at the sales stands of the Harbin Meat-packing Store (Harbin Roulianchang). These chains can be found along any street in Harbin. Chicken Stewed with Mushrooms This is a famous Dongbei dish. Fresh chicken and mushrooms are stewed with ginger and shallots, creating a delicious meal that warms city dwellers during the cold winters.
Another winter treat: Pickled Chinese Cabbage Stew. Pickled Chinese cabbage is a common condiment for families of northeast China. Families preserve vegetables when it gets too cold for the open-air markets. As winter approaches, local people fill big clay pots with cabbages, adding water and salt. They then place a large stone on the top of the jar. After about a month, the cabbages ferment and grow sour, and can be eaten throughout the winter. These pickled cabbages make delicious meals when cooked with meat.