Four Great Traditions
Jiangsu / Zhejiang / Shanghai (淮扬菜 "Huáiyáng cài", 苏菜,"Sū Cài", Huaiyang cuisine): Huaiyang cuisine tends to have a sweet side to it and is almost never spicy. Pork, freshwater fish, and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light compared to the more "brash" eating styles of northern China. Huaiyang cuisine also includes several breakfast choices such as crab soup dumplings (蟹黄汤包 "xìehúang tāngbāo"), thousand-layered cake (千层糕 "qiāncéng gāo"), steamed dumplings (蒸饺 "zhēngjiǎo"), tofu noodles (大煮干丝 "dàzhǔ gānsī"), and wild vegetable steamed buns (菜包子 "cài bāozi").
Cantonese / Guangzhou / Hong Kong (广东菜 Guǎngdōng Cài, 粤菜 Yuè Cài): the style most Western visitors are already familiar with to some extent. Not too spicy, the emphasis is on freshly cooked ingredients and seafood. Dim Sum (点心 Diǎnxīn), small snacks usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, are a highlight. That being said, authentic Cantonese cuisine is also among the most adventurous in China in terms of variety of ingredients as the Cantonese are famous, even among the Chinese, for their extremely wide definition of what is considered edible.
Shandong (山东菜 Shāndōng cài, 鲁菜 Lǔ Cài, Shandong cuisine): Although modern transport has greatly increased the availability of ingredients throughout China, Shandong cuisine remains rooted in its ancient traditions. Most notable is the staggering array of seafood, including scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers, and squid.
Sichuan (川菜 Chuān Cài): Famously hot and spicy. A popular saying is that it is so spicy your mouth will go numb. However, not all dishes are made with live chilies. The numbing sensation actually comes from the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). Sichuanese food is widely available outside Sichuan and also native to Chongqing. If you want really authentic Sichuanese food outside Sichuan or Chongqing, look for small eateries sporting the characters for Sichuan cuisine in neighborhoods with lots of migrant workers. These tend to be much cheaper and often better than the ubiquitous up-market Sichuan restaurants.
Various types of Chinese food provide quick, cheap, tasty, light meals. Street food and snacks sold from portable vendors can be found throughout China's cities. Wangfujing district's Snack Street in Beijing is a notable, if touristy, area for street food. In Cantonese-speaking areas, street food vendors are called gai bin dong; such ventures can grow into a substantial business with the stalls only barely 'mobile' in the traditional street food sense. Various quick eats available nationwide include:
Various, usually sweet, items from the ubiquitous bakeries (面包房, 面包店). A great variety of sweets and sweet food found in China are often sold as snacks, rather then as a post-meal dessert course in restaurants as in the West.
Barbecued sticks of meat from street vendors. Yang rou chuan (羊肉串), or fiery Xinjiang-style lamb kebabs, are particularly renowned.
Jiaozi (饺子), which Chinese translate as "dumplings", boiled, steamed or fried ravioli-like items with a variety of fillings. These are found throughout Asia; momos, mandu, gyoza, and jiaozi are all basically variations of the same thing.
Baozi (包子), steamed buns stuffed with savoury, sweet or vegetable fillings.
Mantou (馒头), steamed bread available on the roadside - great for a very cheap and filling snack.
Lanzhou-style lamian (拉面), fresh hand-pulled noodles. This industry is heavily dominated by members of the Hui (回族) ethnic group - look for a tiny restaurant with staff in Muslim dress, white fez-like hats on the men and head scarves on the women.
In Guangdong and sometimes elsewhere, dim sum (点心). At any major tourist destination in China, you may well find someone serving dim sum for Hong Kong customers.
Sichuan cuisine is famous all over the world, there are many Sichuan cuisine restaurants in many countries in the world, all of whose business are flourishing and widely welcome. The traditional Sichuan cuisine is famous for spicy, however the modern one is not only spicy but also pursues color, aroma, smell and taste and presents new varieties. As the first one of four major schools of Chinese cooking, the Sichuan cuisine plays a very important role in the Chinese cuisine for its wide selection of materials, changeable seasonings, varied cuisine patterns, taste both in light and rich. Famous for liberal use of chilis and "numb" or "tingling" flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn,,characterized for its unique cooking means and bold regional flavors mixed with other parts’ cooking characteristics, absorbing the merits of all and used in innovating ,famous all over the world. At the moment, Sichuan cuisine is penetrating to every corner of the country, almost all the cities have Sichuan cuisine restaurants.
The representatives of the traditional Sichuan cuisine are: Mapo dofu, Baked meat, Shredded Pork With Spicy Garlic Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and sour tendons, Twice cooked pork, Shui zhu beef, Dongpo elbows, Steam beef, Chinese sauerkraut fish and so on. The other kind of Sichuan cuisine is hot pot, there are many kinds of pot, to say the basic seasoning in the bottom of the pot there are dozens, it is beyond counting in terms of raw seasoning. It is said that all that you can eat can be put into the pot rinsed, cooked and heat up. The Chengdu snacks are with more distinguishing features attract most visiotrs: Long dumplings, Lai Dumplings Fuqi Feipian( Pork Lungs in Chili Sauce) Zhong dumplings, Dan dan noodles, North Sichuan jelly, Han stuff-steam bun.
As a famous snack of Chengdu, pork lung pieces is another saying of” cooking mutso without boiling”, now we haven’t used cow lungs but because of its fame and the long name we stiil use its old name. Fuqi Feipian originated 60 years ago, Gu Chaohua and his wife sold their self-made pork lungs, people called their lungs as “husband and wife pork lungs” for their lungs were very cheap and they walked one after the other on the street when selling the lungs. Fuqi Feipian is characterized for its bright red color, soft and waxy suitable for eating, spicy and fresh, so delicate to become small pieces in mouth. Now it is not only a snack but also usually as cold plate in high grade feast. It is well appreciated and appraised by guests from home and abroad.
Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken is a famous traditional cuisine of Sichuan which is cooked by chicken blocks, dry peppers,peanuts. The characteristics are refresh and delicate, spicy but not dry, somewhat sweet and sour. it is said it got its name from a cook Ding Baozhen who cooked this dish in the palace of Qing dynasty. Ding Baozhen was canonized as Prince young security worker,(known as palace security),then this dish was named as Kung Pao Chicken, Ding Baozhen once worked as governor in Sichuan, he combined the dish with spicy of Sichuan cuisine and improved it as to feast guests, it was well welcomed .Later the cooking method was leaked out ,which was accept by many restaurants.
Twice cooked meat
Twice cooked meat is a traditional cuisine in Sichuan, also named as boiled meat. It is famous Sichuan cuisine with unique flavor for its long history and mass eaters. Every family can cook twice cooked meat, you have to eat twice cooked meat in Sichuan ,there is an old saying goes “If you don’t eat twice meat it equals that you haven’t visited Chengdu ”. As a representative of Sichuan cuisine, its characteristics lies in its local flavor –Pi Xian bean chili paste.
Mapo Tofu is one of most local-characterized famous cuisine in Chinese Tofu cuisines, which have been a world famous Sichuan cuisine. This cuisine has a history of 150 years which is the hand-down excellent cuisine. It is said that this restaurant was opened in 1842, there were some pockmarks on the face of the manager’s wife, so people all called her as “Cheng Mapo” secretly. Chengs cooked tofu elaborately, spicy, hot, and very delicious, their business flourished very soon, then they take “Cheng Mapo Tofu ”as their restaurant name.
Bangbang chicken was traditional local flavored snack,80 years ago was brought into Chengdu as a necessity of cold dish. As Leshan was “Jia Ding” in old days, so this dish was famous as “Jia Ding Bangbang Chicken”. Why “Bangbang chicken ” is so delicious has much to do with its cooking way and various seasonings.
“Chao shou” is a special way Sichuan people call wonton. Why named it as Chaoshou is possiblely that when making the wonton the two sides have to be folded up. ” Long dumpling” in Chengdu has 60 years’ history since it was founded . “Long dumpling” is excellent in Chengdu snacks for its thin skin and soft stuff, fresh and slippery, rich soup with white color.