Top 9 Chinese Food Movies

“To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven” – Ancient Chinese Proverb. There is a lot to love about Chinese food movies.

Chinese cuisine, renowned for its rich flavours, diverse ingredients, and intricate cooking techniques, has long captivated the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.

The cultural significance and artistry of Chinese food have also made it a popular subject in cinema, offering viewers a delectable glimpse into the traditions, stories, and emotions woven into each dish.

From heartwarming tales of family and tradition to mouthwatering culinary journeys, the following list of movies celebrates the vibrant and flavorful world of Chinese food, inviting you to savour the experience from the comfort of your screen!

The Search for General Tso

The Search for General Tso, directed by Ian Cheney and released by IFC Films, is a 2014 documentary that explores the origins and cultural significance of the iconic Chinese-American dish, General Tso’s Chicken.

The film takes viewers on a culinary and historical journey, tracing the dish’s roots from the Hunan province in China to Chinese restaurants across the United States.

Through interviews with historians, chefs, and food enthusiasts, the documentary uncovers the fascinating story behind how General Tso’s Chicken became a beloved staple of Chinese-American cuisine. It also delves into broader themes of cultural adaptation, immigration, and the evolution of food in the diaspora.

Eat Drink Man Woman

Eat Drink Man Woman is a 1994 Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee that masterfully blends family drama with culinary artistry. The film centres on Mr. Chu, a widowed master chef in Taipei, and his three daughters, each grappling with personal and romantic challenges.

Every Sunday, Mr. Chu prepares an elaborate family dinner, using food as a medium to communicate and connect with his daughters amid their evolving lives. The film exquisitely portrays the complexities of family dynamics, generational conflict, and the search for personal fulfilment, all while celebrating the rich traditions of Chinese cuisine.

Food is Heaven

Meet the men and women who celebrate the glory of authentic Chinese cuisine – while working to preserve a healthy food supply for future generations. “China Rises: Food Is Heaven,” a 2006 TV episode produced by The New York Times Television, delves into the diverse culinary landscape of China.

“From the steamy kitchens of Canton to the arid moonscape of the north, food is the very heart and soul of China. However, increasing development and dwindling water supplies threaten the nation’s ability to feed itself”.

The documentary explores how deeply food is interwoven into the fabric of Chinese culture, highlighting the country’s gastronomic traditions and the social significance of food in everyday life.

“Food Is Heaven” offers viewers an insightful and appetising journey into the heart of Chinese cuisine, illustrating how food is a cornerstone of Chinese identity and heritage.

The Chinese Feast

The Chinese Feast is a 1995 Hong Kong film directed by Tsui Hark, blending comedy and drama in a delightful culinary adventure. The story follows a young chef, Kit, who teams up with a former master chef, Lung, and a quirky cook, Au, to prepare an extravagant banquet for a prestigious competition.

The Chinese Feast Movie poster in the blogpost: Chinese Food Movies

As they face numerous challenges and personal conflicts, the film showcases their dedication to the art of Chinese cuisine and the bonds formed through their shared passion for cooking.

(Image via ChineseMov.com)

My Life as McDull

Winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 26th Hong Kong International Film Festival (2002), this lovely animated feature is about a piglet in a world populated by animals and humans.

Though strictly not food-based, it’s still quite special. The narrative is written in several set pieces involving McDull’s birth, and education, with trips to his mother’s TV cooking show and indulging in local food.

In 2004 the sequel, McDull, Prince de la Bun, was released.

The God of Cookery

The God of Cookery is a 1996 Hong Kong comedy film directed by and starring Stephen Chow.

The film follows the story of Chow, a highly arrogant and successful celebrity chef dethroned by a scheming rival and hits rock bottom.

Through humorous and heartwarming events, he teams up with a quirky street vendor named Turkey to reclaim his title and rediscover the true essence of cooking.

Blending slapstick comedy with culinary artistry, The God of Cookery delivers a satirical yet touching narrative about humility, redemption, and the passion for food.

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World is a captivating documentary that takes viewers inside the West Lake Restaurant in Changsha, China, the largest Chinese restaurant globally.

With a sprawling 5,000-seat capacity (that’s a lot of food!) and a staff of over 1,000, the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily operations and challenges of running such a colossal dining establishment.

Through intimate interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, the documentary explores the intricate dynamics between the restaurant’s employees, the demanding expectations of its patrons, and the cultural significance of food in Chinese society.

Rice Rhapsody

Rice Rhapsody is a 2004 Singaporean film directed by Kenneth Bi, centering on the life of Jen, a single mother who runs a struggling Hainanese chicken rice restaurant in Singapore’s Chinatown.

Living in Singapore, Jen is concerned about her three sons’ lack of interest in women, fearing they might all be gay. To change their environment, she takes in Sabine, a French exchange student, hoping she will spark romantic interest in her sons.

As Sabine becomes part of their lives, the family navigates cultural clashes, generational gaps, and the complexities of love and identity. Rice Rhapsody is a poignant and humorous exploration of family dynamics, acceptance, and the culinary traditions that bind them together.

This Is Not What I Expected

This Is Not What I Expected is a 2017 Chinese romantic comedy directed by Derek Hui. The film tells the story of Lu Jin, a meticulous and demanding hotel executive, and Gu Shengnan, a quirky and talented sous chef.

Their paths cross when Lu Jin stays at the hotel where Shengnan works, and she inadvertently impresses him with her culinary skills. Despite their clashing personalities, a unique bond forms over their shared love for exquisite food.

As they navigate misunderstandings and personal growth, the film offers a delightful blend of humour and heartfelt moments, celebrating the unexpected ways love and food can bring people together.

(Lead image via mubi.com)

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