Hǎinán has you covered at all price points, from cheap and delicious yēzi fàn (椰子饭; coconut rice) to fresh seafood extravaganzas and, of course, lots of tropical fruit. Many restaurants close in the early afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm.

Hainan Local Food

Hǎinán residents are proud of the natural flavours of the meat and produce raised here under blue skies and in red soil mostly free from industrial contamination, and as a result, they tend to cook with a light hand. Rather than vinegar, you’ll be given calamansi (a type of citrus) to mix with soy sauce.

The best places to sample local specialties are Hǎikǒu Qílóu Snack Street and Sānyà Market #1. Some dishes to look out for include:

  • Bàoluófěn (抱罗粉) Rice noodles in beef or pork stock and often topped with peanuts; usually found at street stalls.
  • Dōngshān mutton (东山羊; dōngshān yáng) A black-wool mountain goat fed camellias and orchids, and stewed, roasted or cooked in coconut milk, or used in soups.
  • Fried ice (炒冰; chǎobīng) Blended tropical fruit that is then 'fried’ on a cold plate until it turns thick like sorbet.
  • Hélè crab (和乐蟹; hélè xiè) Steamed crab, from Hélè near Wànníng, served with ginger and vinegar; it’s best eaten in autumn.
  • Jiājī duck (加积鸭; jiājī yā) Steamed duck from Jiājī (the alternative name for Qiónghǎi).
  • Língāo suckling pig (临高乳猪; Língāo rǔzhū) Whole-roasted pig served with its crisp skin intact.
  • Qīngbǔliáng (清补凉) A sweet coconut soup loaded with any number of fillings, such as fruit, quail eggs, red beans and macaroni; a market staple.
  • Wénchāng chicken (文昌鸡; Wénchāng jī) Poached chicken raised on a diet of rice and peanuts.