When people think of food in Hainan, the first thing that comes to mind is delicious Hainanese Chicken Rice. Hainan Island is the birthplace of one of the most popular and famous dishes in Southeast Asia, the succulent steamed chicken served on richly flavored rice cooked in savory chicken broth and eaten with a pungent garlic chili sauce. This dish migrated to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand along with Chinese immigrants and is so popular in Singapore that it’s also known as Singapore Chicken Rice.


If you love Chinese cuisine, you’ll be intrigued to hear that there’s a lot more to Hainan cuisine than the famous chicken rice. Hainan cuisine is lighter, less oily, and more mildly seasoned than that of the Chinese mainland.  And you can expect a great variety of seafood dishes with shrimp, crab, shellfish, and fish from the abundant waters surrounding the island, including exotic ingredients like conch and sea cucumber.


What local delights can you look forward to feasting on when you’re on your holiday in Sanya? Hainan is known for four famous local dishes – Wenchang Chicken, Hele Crab, Jiaji Duck and Dongshan Lamb, which are well worth ordering when visiting local restaurants in Sanya.


Wenchang Chicken



Originating from Wenchang City in the north of Hainan, The chickens used in the dish are raised free-range that is boiled and served in bite-size pieces with a spicy sauce of chopped ginger and salt. This dish is the origin of Hainanese Chicken Rice that migrated to Southeast Asia with Chinese immigrants. 


Hele Crab



A dish originating from the town of Hele, near Wanning in the south of Hainan, where the locally-reared crabs have a rich, oily meat, they are usually steamed and served with ginger and a garlic and vinegar sauce.


Jiaji Duck



The ducks used in this dish are traditionally raised in Qionghai near the Wanguan River. Jiaji duck is made from duck that was force-fed a blend of cereal and bean curd to produce a plump, juicy bird that is steamed or boiled


Dongshan Lamb



The meat in this dish is actually not lamb but goat, sourced from livestock reared at Dongshan Ridge near Wanning. Some Asian people don’t like the strong taste of mutton and this dish uses meat that is served tender and soft, after being stewed, roasted, or braised in coconut milk. 


Popular restaurants among the locals to enjoy Hainan’s four famous dishes in Sanya:


1.  Haiya Restaurant 海亚餐厅

Tel: +86 898 88259099

Add:       138, Xinfeng Road, Sanya /三亚市新风路138


2.       Liguo Restaurant 利国餐厅

Tel: +86 898 88259099

Add: 13, Wenming Road, Sanya /三亚市文明路113


3.  Yaohua Hainan Flavor 耀华海南风味酒楼

Tel: +86 898 88880268

Add: 245, Chunyuan Road, Sanya (opposite Chunyuan Seafood Square) /三亚市春园路245(春园海鲜广场对面)


4.       Hainan Cuisine Restaurant 琼菜坊

Tel: +86 898 88298088

Add: 1/F, Yue Hai Hotel, Sanya Bay Road, Sanya /三亚市三亚湾路粤海酒店一楼


5. Dongjiao Coconut Seafood City 东郊椰林海鲜城

Address: Opposite to the City Link Hotel, Yuya Road, Dadonghai, Sanya

Tel: 0898-88210999

Open hours: 11:00 pm – 14:00 pm, 17:00 pm – 21:00 pm