Food & Wine

China Regional Cuisine and Dining

Updated: 15 Nov 2007
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One of our readers sent us a letter saying that a magazine survey showed that 90% of the people being asked think that Chinese dishes are the most delicious in the world. Indeed, Chinese food culture has a long history and tradition. Eating is not just a way of filling the stomach, but also an art and a culture.

China is a vast country. Due to the different geography, climate and products in different areas, food culture and customs are also different; thus forming different schools of food and dishes in various areas. Before the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911), there were only two schools of dishes--northern and southern dishes. However, during the Qing Dynasty, there were the Lu, Yue, Huaiyang, Sichuan, Min, Zhejiang, Xiang and Hui schools of food and dishes. They are also called the 8 main schools of Chinese dishes.

Lu dishes
Lu dishes came from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period (770-221B.C.), and formed a school during the Qin and Han dynasties (221B.C.). After the Song Dynasty, Lu dishes became typical northern dishes in Beijing, Tianjin, and three provinces in northeast China. Lu dishes are also divided into Jiaodong dishes, Jinan dishes and Confucius home dishes.
Restaurant: Chunjiang Restaurant on No.56 Youth League Road, Central district, Jinan city, Shandong Province
Dishes: Jiuzhuan dachang--Nine turns of large intestines
Tangcu Liyu---Sweet and sour carp
Congshao Haisen--Cooked sea cucumber with Chinese onion and sugar
Average price is 50 yuan (7 USD) per person

Yue dishes
Yue dishes are Canton dishes, developed from three types of dishes coming from Guangzhou, Chaozhou and Dongjiang. Although they came later, they have had a greater influence. Many restaurants in Hong Kong and Macao, as well as in many other countries in the world, cook Canton dishes. The taste of Canton dishes is light, fresh and a little sweet. It also changes slightly with different seasons.
Restaurant: Bingsheng Restaurant on No. 33 Dongxiao Road, Guangzhou, Guangdong province
Dishes: Cuipi Chashao--Crackling barbecued pork
Chiyou Huang'e chang--Stir-fried goose's intestines with lobster sauce
Jinsha Tangyuan--Golden boiled balls
Tanshao Zhujingrou--Charcoal-baked pig-neck meat
Average price is 70 yuan (10 USD) per person

Huaiyang dishes
Huaiyang dishes are a combination of Huaiyin and Yangzhou dishes. They came from the Spring and Autumn period, and became popular between the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and Ming and Qing Dynasties. These dishes enjoy a reputation of being "the first taste in southeast China and the most delicious dishes in the world." There are three characteristics of Huaiyang dishes---first are the fine ingredients, mostly locally produced; second is the method of fine cutting; and the third is a focus on the taste of the ingredients themselves.
Restaurant: Shiweitian Restaurant--Meiling East Restaurant on No.20 Shikefa Road, Weiyang District, Yangzhou city, Jiangsu province
Dishes: Maxiang Yazhang--Delicious duck palm with hot and numb taste
Xiefen Shizitou--Lion-head with crab powder
Furong Yulanpian--Stir-fried lotus and yulan petals
Qingchao Xiaren--Stir-fried prawns

Sichuan Dishes
Sichuan dishes are a combination of Chengdu, Chongqing, Leshan, Zigong, and Luzhou dishes; and are divided into two schools--Chengdu and Chongqing.
Sichuan dishes are very spicy and hot because they use many ingredients including onion, ginger, garlic, chili, white pepper, brown pepper, vinegar, soya beans, catsup and fermented rice so that the taste is a combination of sour, sweet, bitter, hot, fragrant and salty; while the fragrances can be of fish, numb hot, sour hot, fried with hot red pepper or chili oil and other odd fragrances.
Restaurant: Hongxiang Restaurant in No. 289 Shuhan Road, Jinniu District, Chengdu city, Sichuan province
Dishes: Tiaoshuitu--Diving rabbit,
Shanyufensi--Stir-fried eel with bean noodles,
Huiguorou--Spicy stir-fried pork.
Gongbaojiding--Stir-fried sliced chicken
with peanuts and chili,
Fuqi Feipian--lungs from the cow.
Suanni Bairou--Boiled chicken with garlic.
Average price is 60 yuan per person


Min dishes

Min dishes refer to those in Fuzhou, and southern and western Fujian. Fuzhou dishes are fresh and less salty – a bit sweet and sour. The soup is very unique. Southern Fujian dishes are represented by Xiamen dishes which use a lot of chili catsup, tea catsup, and mustard. Western Fujian dishes are represented by Hakka dishes which use many special, locally produced ingredients.
Restaurant: Jianlaifa Restaurant in No.110 Baiyuan Road, Licheng District, Quanzhou city, Fujian province.
Dishes: Fotiaoqiang--Even a Bhudda will jump out of the wall to taste this dish which is made of chicken, duck and pork and many other kinds of ingredients.
Zuipaigu--Stir-fried chops with wine
Shanai Menyakuai--Stewed ducks
Qixingyuwan--Seven star fish balls
Zaozuiji--Chicken with fermented rice
Jianzaomanyu--Fried eel with fermented rice
Haozijian--Fried oyster
Average price is 50 yuan per person

Zhejiang dishes
Zhejiang dishes have a long history. They include the dishes in Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing. Hangzhou dishes are fresh, lively, and delicate. The ingredients usually include fish, shrimp, and fresh vegetables. Ningbo dishes are a bit salty, but very fresh. Ingredients usually include sea food. Shaoxing dishes use river food and local poultry as ingredients.
Zhejiang dishes focus on original tastes by mainly using stewing, deep frying and steaming methods.
Restaurant: Shaoxing Restaurant Chinese food sector on No.9 Huanshan Road, Shaoxing city, Zhejiang province.
Dishes: Longjing xiaren--Longjing shrimp
Xihucuncaitang--West lake water shield soup,
Xihucuyu--West lake sour fish,
Zhaxiangling--Deep fry bells,
Xiancai dating huangyu--Pickled vegetables soup with yellow-fin tuna,
Bingtang jiayu--Turtle soup with sugar candy.
Average price: 40 yuan per person

Xiang dishes or Hunan dishes
Xiang dishes refer to dishes from the reaches of the Xiang River, Dongting Lake area, and mountainous areas in western Hunan. The Xiang River reaches refer to Changsha, Hengyang and Xiangtan. Dishes from these areas are the main types of Xiang dishes. Dongting Lake dishes are mainly cooked river crabs, chicken and pork. In western Hunan, Xiangxi dishes include game products, and smoked and preserved ham. Xiang dishes are famous for their heat and preserved ham ingredients.
Restaurant: Fuxinglou Restaurant on No. 56 Jiefangnan Road, Xiangtan city, Hunan province
Dishes: Dong'anji--Dong'an chicken
Lawei Hezheng--Steamed preserved ham and other things
Furu Dongsun--Preserved beancurd and bamboo sprout
Bingtang Xianglian--Candy lotus
Hongjiao Laniurou--Stir fried preserved beef with hot pepper
Fasi Niubaiye--Thinly-sliced stomach of cow
Average price: 60 yuan per person

Hui dishes or Anhui dishes
Hui dishes refer to dishes from the southern Anhui, Yanjiang and Yanhuai areas. Dishes in southern Anhui are well-cooked with game products for ingredients. Southern Anhui is famous for its "Smelly Mandarin fish." Yanjiang dishes are mainly made from river fish or pork; its smoked dishes are also very unique. Yanhuai dishes are both salty and hot with a very heavy taste.
Restaurant: Sanhe Restaurant on Susong Road in Baohe district in Hefei, Anhui province
Dishes: Wuwei Xunya--Smoked duck
Fuliji Shaoji--Fuliji baked chicken
Fangla yu--Fangla fish
Bagongshan Doufu--Bagongshan Toufu
Shi''er Dunji--Shi'er stewed chicken
Yunwu rou--Cloud and mist meat
Average price: 40 yuan per person



If we say the eight main schools of dishes are court dishes, the snacks in various regions represent common people''s food culture.
Tianjin shibajie damahua or Tianjin 18th Street fried dough twists
Through much experimentation and innovation, fried dough twists in Tianjin are unique for their various fillings such as ginger, dried peach pieces, and melon. They are crispy, taste sweet, and smell good. Their quality is very good; and can last for many months without changing form, taste and quality.
Address: Guifaxiang 18th Street fried dough twist general shop on No.566, Dagunan Road, Hexi district, Tianjin.

Minfen or rice noodles in Guilin
Rice noodles in Guilin are famous for their spices and accompanying dishes. Stir fry the boiled pork or beef with oil; put dozens of herbs and spices into the soup of pork or beef. Then put the fried pork or beef, the spiced soup, and boiled rice noodle together with some fried soy beans or peanuts, sliced onion, caraway and sesame oil. It smells good and tastes even better.
Address: Youyixuan which is located at the intersection of Lequn Road and Zhongshan Road in Guilin city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Niu Yangrou Paomo or Bun''s pieces soaked in beef or lamb soup
Break apart the buns into small pieces as big as a soybean; and put them into a big bowl. Combine lamb or beef pieces with soup, and sliced onion and cabbage, cooking wine, bean noodles, salt and MSG. The taste is heavy and the smell is very good. It will warm your stomach.
Address: Laosunjia or Family Sun - duanxiamen Restaurant on Dong dajie, Xi''an city, Shaanxi province.

Paigu Niangao or chopped glutinous rice cakes in Shanghai
Use pork from Changzhou and Wuxi in Jiangsu province. Combine wheat flour, water chestnut flour, five tastes spices, and eggs together; and stir. Then put the flour on the surface of the chops, then deep fry the chops. And then stir fry the chops, the sliced glutinous cakes, soy sauce and sweet flour catsup with hot pepper catsup.
Address: Xiandelai dim sum shop on No.660 Handan Road, Yangpu District, Shanghai

Daoxiaomian or sliced noodles in Shanxi
Daoxiaomian is a kind of noodle which is sharpened by a knife. It is the most typical snack in Shanxi province. The noodle can be broad but very thin;so it not only tastes good, but also looks very good.
Address: Mianshi Daquan on No.151 Bingzhou Road, Yingze District, Taiyuan city, Shanxi province

Reganmian or hot dry noodles in Wuhan
Reganmian or hot dry noodles are one of the five most famous noodles in China. First, you boil it. When it is ready, take it out and let it cool down. Before you eat it, you must put it in hot water, and turn it over once or twice again, and then drain it. Then add sesame catsup, shrimp, sliced onion, pickled carrot pieces, sesame oil and vinegar; stir them together. Then you can eat.
Address: Cailinji on No. 854 Zhongshan Road, Hankou, Hubei province.

Suanladouhua or sour and hot delicate beancurd from Sichuan
Suanladouhua is popular in Chengdu and Leshan in Sichuan province and has a long history. Suanla douhua is just one type of beancurd preparation made with soy sauce, vinegar, hot pepper and MSG, fried soy beans, cabbage pieces and sliced onion.
Address: Tandouhua Restaurant on Xidajie, Qingyang District, Chengdu city Sichuan province

Lvdaguan or glutinous cake in Beijing
Lvdaguan is made of glutinous millet flour and soybean flour. Steam the glutinous dough, fry the soybeans, and then grind it into flour. Then make the glutinous dough covered by soybean flour into flat sheet and roll it in cooked red beans. Then cut it into pieces which are about four or five centimeters in diameter and weigh about 100 grams each.
Address: Huguosi snacks restaurant on No.93 Huguosi Street, Xicheng District, Beijing.

SOURCE: By People's Daily Online

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