Food in China is drastically different from the Chinese food you’re likely to find in most Westernized Chinese restaurants. Traditional Chinese food is incredibly diverse, incorporating heady spices as well as clean flavors, wheat?breads?as well as rice-based dishes, dainty foods served to the aristocracy as well as simple but satisfying street fare. Many of the larger hotels catering to Western tourists will have restaurants serving Western foods, including traditional?American and English breakfasts, steaks, and even burgers. In large cities like?Beijing, you will also find restaurants specializing in other cuisines, including, Japanese, French, Italian, and other internationally popular ethnic food. Every region in the country serves its own traditional Chinese food with distinctive characteristics. In the northwest, Xinjiang cuisine has a large Muslim?influence,?and features wheat noodles, flatbreads, and cumin-flavored halal meats. In?Tibetan regions, you will undoubtedly come across yak butter tea, and Himalayan food flavored with cumin and curry.
Since China's local dishes have their own typical characteristics, generally, Chinese food can be roughly divided into eight regional cuisines.
Eight Regional Cuisines
Consisting of Jinan cuisine and Jiaodong cuisine, Shandong cuisine, clear, pure and not greasy, is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness. Shallot and garlic are usually used as seasonings so Shangdong dishes tastes pungent usually. Soups are given much emphasis in Shangdong dishes. Thin soup features clear and fresh while creamy soup looks thick and tastes strong. Jinan cuisine is adept at deep-frying, grilling, frying and stir-frying while Jiaodong division is famous for cooking seafood with fresh and light taste.
Sichuan Cuisine, known often in the West as Szechuan Cuisine, is one of the most famous Chinese cuisines in the world. Characterized by its spicy and pungent flavor, Sichuan cuisine, prolific of tastes, emphasizes on the use of chili. Pepper and prickly ash also never fail to accompany, producing typical exciting tastes. Besides, garlic, ginger and fermented soybean are also used in the cooking process. Wild vegetables and animals are usually chosen as ingredients, while frying, frying without oil, pickling and braising are applied as basic cooking techniques. It cannot be said that one who does not experience Sichuan food ever reaches China.
Tasting clear, light, crisp and fresh, Guangdong cuisine, familiar to Westerners, usually chooses raptors and beasts to produce originative dishes. Its basic cooking techniques include roasting, stir-frying, sauteing, deep-frying, braising, stewing and steaming. Among them steaming and stir-frying are more commonly applied to preserve the natural flavor. Guangdong chefs also pay much attention to the artistic presentation of dishes.
Consisting of Fuzhou Cuisine, Quanzhou Cuisine and Xiamen Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine is distinguished for its choice seafood, beautiful color and magic taste of sweet, sour, salty and savory. The most distinct features are their "pickled taste".
Jiangsu Cuisine, also called Huaiyang Cuisine, is popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River. Aquatics as the main ingredients, it stresses the freshness of materials. Its carving techniques are delicate, of which the melon carving technique is especially well known. Cooking techniques consist of stewing, braising, roasting（焙bèi）, simmering（煨wēi）, etc. The flavor of Huaiyang Cuisine is light, fresh and sweet and with delicate elegance. Jiangsu cuisine is well known for its careful selection of ingredients, its meticulous preparation methodology, and its not-too-spicy, not-too-bland taste. Since the seasons vary in climate considerably in Jiangsu, the cuisine also varies throughout the year. If the flavor is strong, it isn't too heavy; if light, not too bland.
Comprising local cuisines of Hangzhou, Ningbo and Shaoxing, Zhejiang Cuisine, not greasy, wins its reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. Hangzhou Cuisine is the most famous one among the three.
Hunancuisine consists of local Cuisines of Xiangjiang Region, Dongting Lake and Xiangxi coteau. It characterizes itself by thick and pungent flavor. Chili, pepper and shallot are usually necessaries in this division.
Anhui Cuisine chefs focus much more attention on the temperature in cooking and are good at braising and stewing. Often hams（火腿huótuǐ）will be added to improve taste and sugar candy added to gain.