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There are many styles of cooking in China, but Chinese chefs have identified eight culinary traditions as the best. These have set the course of how Chinese cook food, and are looked to as models. Each of these schools has a distinct style and different strengths.
Summary of the Eight Cuisines
Cantonese food is the most popular style internationally. Guangdong Province and Hong Kong are noted for fine seafood dishes and rice dishes. They eat a very wide variety of foods. The dishes they serve don't have strong flavors since it is lightly seasoned, and they often tend to be a little sweet. More on Yue cuisine...
Sichuan Province produced the most widely served cuisine in China. Their dishes are famous for their hot-spicy taste and the numbing flavor of Sichuan peppercorn that is rare in other regional cuisines. It is the food of Chengdu and Chongqing (which used to be part of Sichuan). More on Chuan cuisine...
Jiangsu Province and China's biggest city, Shanghai, have a very refined gourmet cuisine that is often served at government banquets. What makes it special is the exquisite cooking techniques that produce richly aromatic and visually artistic dishes. Their chefs also focus on serving meals that promote health. More on Su cuisine...
Zhejiang Province is the province south of Jiangsu, and it borders on Shanghai too, so their style is similar to theirs, but it is less elaborately prepared. They focus more on serving fresh food. The food is often served raw or almost raw and is fresh and crispy and seasonal. It is more like Japanese food. Ningbo cuisine is very salty. More on Zhe cuisine...
Fujian Province is known for great seafood and soups and the precise use of scintillating but not tongue numbing spices. Adding much wild exotic delicacies from the sea and mountains makes their dishes have unusual flavors. It is like a culinary wild adventure. More on Min cuisine...
If you like Sichuan food, you'll probably like Hunan food too since it is even hotter. It is tastier and more delicious because they don't use peppercorn that numbs the mouth. It is a rich agricultural area that produces a broad range of vegetables and herbs, and these are served up. More on Xiang cuisine...
Anhui cuisine is even wilder than Fujian cuisine. It is inland, and big mountains such as the Yellow Mountains are the source of lots of different wild foods and herbs. It is basically a hearty mountain peasant food. Some of the best dishes incorporate wild food for an unusual taste. Some dishes are sweet from added sugar. More on Hui cuisine...
Shandong was one of the first civilized areas, and it set the pattern for northern styles of cooking. With a long coast, seafood is its forte. They preserve the original taste of the seafood by using simple ingredients and braising, and they like vinegar and salt. Unlike southern cuisines, they serve much more wheat food, including their noodles. More on Lu cuisine...
If you want to try china's authentic food, our tours can take you to authentic local restaurants as you tour around China. See our most popular food tour as follow: