Chinese Food

Written by Sally Guo Updated May. 7, 2022

As one of the so-called three luxuries in a man’s life (the other two are an American house and a Japanese wife), Chinese food is widely known for its variety and abundance with about 8,000 renowned ancient and modern dishes, 600 types of ingredients, and over 48 basic ways of cooking.

Want to feel on top of the world? Go and taste some mouth-watering Chinese food!

Features of Chinese Food and Cuisine

Colored Dumplings

Colored Dumplings

Chinese people attach particular importance to a triple-principle of their food, namely, color, aroma, and taste:

To achieve this standard, every exquisite culinary dish involves a long and complicated process from selecting the ingredients to finally serving it to diners. The superb skills of Chinese chefs make a great contribution to the development of the Chinese food industry. Sometimes, watching their work is like enjoying a splendid acrobatic show.

China's Regional Cooking Styles

China is vast with complex geographical features. Thus it has various regional cuisine. The most famous cooking styles in China are the Eight Great Cuisines, but there is more than that. 

China’s Eight Great Cuisines

From the Ming (1368-1644) to the Qing (1616-1911) dynasties, there emerged eight great cuisines respectively, from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangdong, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Zhejiang Provinces.

Every cuisine is distinct from the other and the differences in their formation have much to do with the geography, climate, natural resources, and eating habits of the specific area.

China’s Eight Great Cuisines
Eight Distinct Regional Cuisine in China

1. Sichuan Cuisine 川菜 - Spicy and Numbing

Water-Cooked Beef

Water-Cooked Beef

Apart from favoring a spicy-sour, pungent flavor, Sichuan Cuisine distinguishes it from the similar Hunan or Guizhou Cuisine by applying Chinese prickly ash seeds (Huajiao in Chinese), leaving a special feeling of numbness in one’s mouth.

And thanks to various ways of cooking, such as stir-frying and steaming, the cuisine has numerous dishes with different flavors but utilizing the same ingredients.

Recommended Sichuan Food Corresponding Chinese Name Sichuan Cuisine Characteristics
Sichuan Hotpot 四川火锅 prickly ash (the numbing spice), spicy
Water Boiled Beef 水煮牛
Husband and Wife Lung Slices 夫妻肺片

2. Hunan Cuisine - Spicy and Sour

Double-Flavored Steamed Fish Head

Double-Flavored Steamed Fish Head

Hunan Province provides a menu rich with a potent punch of chili, so the uninitiated may easily mix up the cooking styles of Hunan and Sichuan.

Yet the special characteristics of Hunan Cuisine focus on pickled chilies and vegetables, sour relish, and heavier use of a kind of fatty preserved meat called larou in Chinese, tasting a bit like smoky bacon.

Recommended Hunan Food Corresponding Chinese Name Hunan Cuisine Characteristics
Tasty Crawfish 口味虾 pickled chilies and vegetables, sour relish, larou
Steamed Fish Head with Diced Red Peppers 剁椒鱼头
Steamed Ham 腊味合蒸

3. Cantonese Cuisine (粤菜) - Light and Refreshing

Cantonese Poached Chicken

White Cut Chicken

The Cantonese are widely recognized as gourmets as their food catalogue is very extensive and varied. Because of the location of Guangdong Province and its climate features, the Cantonese are fascinated by light, refreshing and aquatic food, in which the tender and original taste of the ingredients is kept intact.

Besides, this cuisine abounds in vegetables, and its congee and dim sum receive a warm welcome from both the public and gastronomists. See more from Cantonese Cuisine.

Recommended Cantonese Food Corresponding Chinese Name Cantonese Cuisine Characteristics
White Cut Chicken 白切鸡

seafood, light and refreshing taste, dim sums

Char Siu 叉烧
Boiled Prawns 白灼虾

4. Anhui Cuisine - Fresh Local Produce

Stewed Loach with Ham

Stewed Loach with Ham

The excellent geographical advantage of the Huangshan Mountains endows local people with a great deal of fresh flora and tasty fauna, composing the major ingredients of the dishes.

Anhui Cuisine chefs focus a lot of attention to preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of the materials, but they sometimes add ham or sugar candy to improve their dishes’ taste.

Recommended Anhui Food Corresponding Chinese Name Anhui Cuisine Characteristics
Ham and “Whippy” Bamboo Stew 火腿炖鞭笋

abundant flora and fauna, like to add ham or sugar candy

Stewed Loach with Ham 火腿炖泥鳅

5. Fujian Cuisine - Often with Soup

Stewed Chicken with Three Cups Sauce

Stewed Chicken with Three Cups Sauce

Fujian Cuisine is sourced from the native cooking style of Fujian Province and shares a few common characteristics with nearby Taiwan and Guangdong. There’s a wealth of seafood and woodland-based ingredients forming dazzling choices for diners.

The unique practice of adding red rice wine and shrimp oil to seafood, chicken, and bamboo dishes, aims at improving their flavors. Almost every dish is served with soup just as the local saying goes: “no meal is truly complete without soup (不汤不行)”.

Recommended Fujian Food Corresponding Chinese Name Fujian Cuisine Characteristics
Stewed Chicken with Three Cups Sauce 三杯鸡 seafood, woodland-based ingredients, soup
Buddha Jumping Over the Wall 佛跳墙
Tai Chi Prawns 太极明虾

6. Jiangsu Cuisine  - Freshwater Seafood

Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish

Jiangsu Cuisine is a combination of both the Southern and the Northern relishes in China and the local chefs are dexterous in cooking both different styles of dishes.

The Yangtze River, winding throughout the region, offers plenty of produce in every season. Another characteristic of Jiangsu Cuisine is its exquisite refreshments and snacks which cater to the taste buds of lovers of food.

Recommended Jiangsu Food Corresponding Chinese Name Jiangsu Cuisine Characteristics
WaterMelon Chicken 西瓜鸡 freshwater seafood, plenty of river produce
Brine-Boiled Duck 盐水鸭
Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish 松鼠桂鱼

In addition, Nanjing, Suzhou, and Yangzhou have been famous since ancient times. Ancient private gardens and water towns such as Zhouzhuang and Tongli are also the charms of Jiangsu Province.

7. Shandong Cuisine  - High-calorie and High-protein

Stewed Pork Hock

Stewed Pork Hock

Shandong Cuisine with a long history has a great impact on other cuisines. With historical roots originating in sophisticated cuisine, the ingredients selected are more costly than those of others, usually seafood due to the favorable location.

Besides, its long duration of cold weather makes local chefs skilled in producing high-calorie and high-protein dishes. Major cooking techniques are quick-fry and deep-fry, which create the distinctive crispy texture of the dishes.

Recommended Shandong Food Corresponding Chinese Name Shandong Cuisine Characteristics
Stewed Pork Hock 水晶肘子

seafood, high-calorie, and high-protein

Four Joys Meatballs 四喜丸子

8. Zhejiang Cuisine - Mellow and Non-greasy

Shrimp Meat with Longjing

Shrimp Meat with Longjing Tea

Characterized by the mellow and non-greasy flavor, Zhejiang Cuisine serves as a representative of the food from along the lower Yangtze River.

Situated in the so-called “land of fish and rice”, Zhejiang has a substantial scope of local produce, nutrients, and tastes for its diners. The main methods of cooking are quick frying, stir-frying, braising, and deep-frying.

Recommended Zhejiang Food Corresponding Chinese Name Zhejiang Cuisine Characteristics
Dongpo Pork 东坡肉

mellow and non-greasy flavor, plenty of lake produce

Shrimp Meat with Longjing Tea 龙井虾仁
Fish Cooked in Vinegar Gravy 西湖醋鱼
“Beggars” Chicken 叫花鸡

If you want to fully enjoy Zhejiang Cuisine with the view of beauty, Hangzhou would be a good choice, which provides both a West Lake boat trip and a water town experience.

Chinese Food Culture

Food is one of the few things that stick to culture. See what we can learn from Chinese food.

Use Chopsticks to Eat



Chopsticks are said to be a great invention by the Chinese and nearly 30% of the world population make use of chopsticks. They are the flexible extension of your hands, keeping your fingers clean with no grease and safe without touching extreme heat and coldness.

It is documented that properly handling chopsticks requires the coordination of over 80 joints and 50 muscles, which makes people more dexterous and intelligent.

Chinese Culinary Customs

Chengdu Hotpot

Chengdu Hotpot

In the West, people take what they like on a separate plate since ancient times. Different from Westerners, Chinese people prefer to share food. The elders select food for the young; the hosts apportion the best part of the dishes to their distinguished guests to show their respect and warm welcome.

Such Chinese culinary customs add to the hospitable character of the Chinese people. Through sharing food with guests, friends, and families, Chinese people tend to be more sensitive about the need of others at the table and often firstly take the group needs into consideration.

Taste Chinese Food Your Way!

Our Customers Tasting Chinese Food

Our Customers Tasting Chinese Food

No one who loves food will say “no” to the delicacies of China, especially after admiring natural and cultural beauties – how would a perfect journey be without delicious food? Below are three sample tours we hand-pick for your inspiration:

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