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Eating Out In China

Updated on October 9, 2011

As a tourist in China, you will find a diverse selection of food that varies greatly from region to region. The local dishes can be broken into as many as ten different categories. Eating out in China may seem intimidating at first, but once you know the basics, you'll be able to enjoy a healthy mood that suits your tastes.The four main specialties that visitors should expect to encounter while traveling are: Cantonese, Sichuan, Huaiyang and Shandong.

Throughout China you will also find an incredible selection of vegetable dishes that have been part of the Chinese diet for centuries. Many were developed to take advantage of the known health benefits in the Ming and Qing dynasties dating back as early as 1368. The main goal of these unique dishes are to provide a delicious meal that is easy to digest and rich in nutrients.

Dinner in China
Dinner in China
You will find a wide variety of authentic Chinese food.
You will find a wide variety of authentic Chinese food.


This cuisine utilizes river and seafood extensively, but may also include birds, rats, snakes and insects. There is a saying in China, if it moves, the Cantonese will eat it. They use fresh materials and unique cooking methods. One of the more daring cuisines for Westerners to explore, popular dishes include snake soup, turtle casserole and a stew containing three kinds of meat: snake, ant and cat.


Huaiyang integrates the best dishes form various regions south of the Yangtze River. This cuisine emphasizes freshness and careful preparation. It offers a light flavor and beautiful, colorful arrangement. Famous dishes include: fried mandarin fish with a sweet and sour sauce, salted duck and steamed crab meat.


This cuisine is overwhelmingly seafood, because the Shandong region is a peninsula surrounded by the sea. Here you will find such specialties as stewed sea cucumber, snakehead eggs, and sea slugs.


Sichuan cuisine is known for its hot pepper flavor. If you are not very accustomed to eating food highly flavored with spice, proceed with caution! The spicy flavors vary widely offering a diverse selection for anyone who enjoys the taste. You may even find your lips numb after consuming a certain special black pepper! This can be frightening at first, but not painful. Dishes include sautéed diced pork, a bean curd stew with minced pork in a pepper sauce and dry roast rock carp.


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