This question might be relevant to others who are traveling and want to stay as close to the paleo way as possible.
I'm going to China for a couple of weeks next month and I reckon my paleo diet will pretty much go out the window.
I just read an article saying that rice is the least bad of all the grains so I guess I can occasionally have some in my meals.
Other Asian countries often have various kinds of soup which involve just meat and veggies, I assume China has the same.
Other than that what can I do? Avoid certain types of noodles? (Egg Noodles Vs Rice Noodles?)
The macronutrients are not a problem: most dishes keep rice on the one side, and meat and veggies on the other.
The major problem is to avoid vegetable oils (corn, peanuts, canola, etc.) that are used everywhere on everything; unfortunately, lard is now considered an old-fashiohed food used by grannies who didn't know better...
Other problems are:
MSG is everywhere, used like salt.
Dishes are loaded with sugar.
Soy sauce (made with wheat) is everywhere (tough life for gluten-intolerant people!)
All sauces used both by restaurant and in home cooking (XO sauce, oyster sauce, black bean sauce, hoisin sauce, chilly sauce etc.) are made with vegetable oils and loaded with thickeners and flavorings.
That said, if you are going for only two weeks, I wouldn't worry about it. But if you are really concerned, my suggestion is to eat the simplest dishes you can find, like roast meats and stir fried veggies. No complicated stuff with heavy sauces. BBQ meat is a good choice, but watch sugar and soy sauce. Steamed fish is excellent, if you can find it. In northern China, you will see people selling roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes in the streets, go for it! I wouldn't worry about some rice from time to time.
If you are neither celiac not diabetic (and don't have strong intolerance to MSG), your food experience in China should be ok. I have been living in China for several years. I mostly eat at home, but I would do the same everywhere else in the world. The problem is not China, but restaurant and processed food.
It's pretty easy to focus on meat and veg dishes in China. Soups are good and don't usually have noodles in them. Plenty of beef, pork, and lamb in the north (Beijing, Xian), and more seafood in the south (Shanghai, Hong Kong).
When I was in China I ate some rice if there weren't enough options at meals, but I focused on meat and veg. If you're very sensitive to gluten then stay away from noodles, dumplings and heavily sauced dishes.
I wrote a bunch of blog posts about my last visit, with some pictures of food if you're interested: http://www.scdkat.com/category/china2010/
If you're going to Beijing, you have to have the lamb hot pot and the Peking duck. So good!
In my opinion China offers plenty of paleo options. Like others have said the sauces are best avoided. If you're around Shanghai there are a lot of dishes that are basically veggies with meat or seafood. Like I mentioned in a comment, the use of questionable vegetable oil is an issue, but in moderation it's probably fine.
Hot Pot is always good choice. You just dunk meat and veggies into boiling broth.
So while you may not be 100% paleo while eating here, I think you'll be close enough.
One great thing about China: everything is fried in lard or other animal fat. Only the fancy hotels catering to international business and tourism will have switched to vegetable oils.
At the famous Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing, Quan Ju De, I had Peking Duck but also duck hearts, duck tongues, etc. You can get feet too if you ask!
I travel to China often - Its not that hard. Most restaurants can serve you a complete Paleo meal if you let them know what exactly you want. Your best bet is to have a local (who can speak English) go with you and you let him know that you want just veggies sauteed in butter, not oil; roast meat, there's just too much choice and avoid all kind of sauces and rice. I have traveled to various cities and stayed up to 2 weeks at a stretch without worrying - but I always had a local person by my side.
way easier to eat semi-paleoin China than in the US. They do use canola oil to fry everything, unless you seek out places that use 牛油 (niuyou/tallow). Cordain or someone makes the case that canola is not bad for you like soybean oil. I have no idea.
And yes, MSG is in everything. Only some regions add sugar to things, most do not.
Rice is not a big part of restaurant food in most places. Just meat and vegetables.
You aren't going to maintain dietary purity in China, but you will do way better than you would trying to stay paleo in american restaurants.
oooof good luck. I was on a world tour with a show, and found china the hardest place to find food. Which is saying a lot, because we were all over the map, and I am a very adventurous eater. There was zero white meat chicken, zero. Dark meat was fine for a week, and then I just got sick of the taste.The duck was really good, but i couldn't keep eating just that. Also, a lot of the food tasted dirty to me, If that makes sense? After a while of eating some questionable meats... I swear I ate dog, I did NOT order it , but it was on the menu, and I think there was a mix up :( . I found that the Korean barbeque places were the best. They bring you the raw meats and seafood and you cook it your self. I wasn't paleo at the time , but what can be more paleo than that? You don't have any added sauces if you don't want them, and you can eat an entire meal of just meat and fish (veggies if you want or need them). I don't recommend this as it is totally not paleo, but I got so sick of the Chinese food, that I started to go to TGI Friday's for salads. Crazy, you can find the sh*##iest american food in any country. Hope this didn't sound too negative, yikes. But this was my experience.
p.s I totally agree with Resurgent, If you can have a local person to translate, you will have a much easier time than I did. Trying to ask for changes to the menu did not happen for me, as i spoke no Chinese. Having a translator would have also saved me from eating dog :(. So, If it is at all available to you definitely take advantage!