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China Food and Drink

"The Chinese are very lucky people because wherever they go, they can always find hometown food"

Experience Peking Duck in Beijing or eat the food of the Ming emperors, explore the world of Chinese cuisine with China Highlights to get the real tastes of China.Join us to experience the real Chinese cuisine!

As a Chinese saying goes, "When going to an eating house, go to one that is filled with customers." A good rules of thumb for choosing the right Chinese restaurants to dine is if the restaurant isn't packed with customers during dinner time, chances are it's not worth a try.

Chinese food can be roughly divided into the Northern and Southern styles of cooking. In general, Northern dishes are oily without being cloying and the flavors of vinegar and garlic tend to be more pronounced. Pasta also plays an important role in Northern cooking; noodles, ravioli-like dumplings, steamed stuffed buns, fried meat dumplings, and steamed bread are the favored flour-based treats. The cooking styles of Peking, Tientsin, and Shantung are probably the best known styles of Northern Chinese cuisine. An elaborate, stuffed chicken symbolizes the Chinese wish for plenitude and satisfaction. Representative of the Southern cooking styles are: Szechwan and Hunan cuisine which are famous for their liberal use of chili peppers; the Kiangsu and Chekiang styles which emphasize freshness and tenderness; and Cantonese food which tends to be somewhat sweet and full of variety. Rice and rice products such as rice noodles, rice cakes, and rice congee are the usual accompaniments to Southern style cooking.

In Chinese cooking, color, aroma, and flavor share equal importance in the preparation of each dish, thereby, satisfying the gustatory, olfactory, and visual senses. Any one entree will combine three to five colors, selected from ingredients that are light green, dark green, red, yellow, white, black, or caramel-colored. Usually, a meat and vegetable dish is prepared from one main ingredient and two to three secondary ingredients of contrasting colors. It is then cooked with the appropriate method, seasonings, and sauces to result in an aesthetically attractive dish. The primary methods of preparation include stir-frying, stewing, steaming, deep-frying, flash-frying, and pan-frying. A dish with a fragrant aroma will whet the appetite. Among many others, some ingredients that contribute to a mouth-watering aroma are scallions, fresh ginger root, garlic, chili peppers, wine, star anise, stick cinnamon, pepper, sesame oil, and dried black Chinese mushrooms. Of utmost importance in cooking any dish is preserving the fresh, natural flavor of the ingredients and removing any undesirable fish or game odors. In Western cooking, lemon is often used to remove smells of fish; in Chinese cooking, scallions and ginger serve a similar function. Soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and other seasonings add richness to a dish without covering up the natural flavor of the ingredients. A well-prepared dish will be rich to those who like strong flavors, not over-spiced to those who like a blander taste, sweet to those who like a sweet flavor, and hot to those who like a piquancy. A dish that is all of these things to all of these people is a truly successful one.   Read more china Food

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Food in remote areas or cities, like Lhasa, is not as fine as that in large cities. Besides, there are not so many choices and you may not be used to the local taste, especially in the regions of many minority features and special eating habits.

Chinese Dining

Most restaurants provide tea free of charge.  This is normally green tea, or similar.
Cutlery can be ordered if wished.
Tipping is not expected, although service charges may be included in the more expensive restaurants.
Street food can be excellent – and cooked as you wait.  However, you should be aware that sometimes that noodle broth may include horse meat or other creatures that are not usually eaten where you come from.

Ideally, eating Chinese food is a communal affair involving two or more people, principally because the greater the number of diners, the greater the numbers of dishes ordered. Generally speaking, two diners order three dishes in addition to their own individual bowl of steamed rice, three diners 4 dishes and so on. Diners choose whatever they require from shared dishes and generally add it to their own rice.

When you enter a proper Chinese restaurant you'll be quickly escorted to a table. More often than not, tea, nuts and pickles will be served immediately, to take away your hunger pangs whilst you browse the menu. Tea is served in glasses or in small porcelain cups. Whenever you're filling your cup, it is good table manners to check out and top others' cups first even if they're still half full. When someone's cup becomes empty, it is polite for the person nearest to the tea pot to top it up for him or her. Tap lightly by your cup when someone does this to you as a gesture of saying thank you. Take the lid of the pot off or flip it over if you want the pot refilled by the waiter.

Unlike Western cuisine where food is served in courses, Chinese food is served simultaneously, with the exception of during Chinese banquets. When ordering, unless eating a one-dish meal like a hotpot, try to select items with a range of tastes and textures, for example, sweet and sour pork, spicy kung pao chicken and steamed fish. Order a soup too. In Chinese cuisine, soup is consumed concurrently with the rest of the food. Many Chinese restaurants in the West practise two-menu system - a Chinese menu and an adapted Western menu. From experience, if you do not want your meal to be a disappointment, ask for a Chinese menu.

 Shortly after placing your order, the selected dishes will make their appearance display. When all the food arrive, it's impolite to start lifting the chopsticks or eating utensils before the host does. And as a gracious host, he or she can get things going by picking the best piece of food ie. part of a drumstick and offer it to one of the guests (ladies first) and utter "sik, sik" (Cantonese) or "chi, chi" (Chinese) meaning "let's eat!". 

If the table settings include public serving spoons or chopsticks, use them instead of your own set to get yourself food. If public serving spoon or chopsticks are not provided, you may ask for them to be brought to the table.

Reaching across to the opposite side of the plate or "rummaging" the dish with your chopsticks or spoon to get that lean piece of meat is considered selfish and bad manners. Always pick up the piece of food near to you.

In some dishes, chicken and pork are usually cut clear through the bones. You should be careful of the sharp shards of bones in it which can be removed with your chopsticks or spat onto your plate.   Read more Table Manners

The Chinese like picking their teeth at the end of a meal. It is polite to cover the mouth with one hand while the other does the digging.

The presence of multiple Chinese dishes allows a myriad of tastes and textures, mild or overpowering, to assault your senses all at the same time. Happy dining!

Moreover, there are gourmet streets in some cities. For instance, in Beijing, you can go to Wangfujing; in Xian, the Residential Street of Minority Hui (Huimin Jie) is highly recommended. In the gourmet street, you can see many Chinese snacks shops. The snacks they provide are inexpensive and very tasty

Western-style food, which you may crave now and again, can also be found easily in China. Most of the star-rated hotels have a restaurant providing western food. In addition, some fast-food outlets, like McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut, are not only popular among Chinese people but also offer much convenience for overseas tourists.

For those seeking them, western style restaurants as well as Japanese, Korean, and Indian restaurants abound, especially in the big cities. The internationally known fast food outlets like KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut exist in China but if you want a buffet supper, you can find a buffet restaurant very easily, providing not only Chinese dishes but western food as well.

Chinese Drink
Bottled water: Bottled water for drinking is available for purchase everywhere.  It is not advisable to drink tap water, as you will not be used to the local flora. 

Soft drinks and beer: Soft drinks and beer along with tea and rice wine, are the most common drinks in local restaurants.  There are many local and imported beers available. 

wine: The Chinese have been making wine for 4000 years, and the grape wine industry is currently expanding, with "Great Wall" and "‘Dynasty" being two of the more successful local brands.  Imported spirits, wine or beer will cost more than local products.  Some of the local spirits are extremely alcoholic, and bottles of wine which contain snakes, scorpions or other animals may startle you.Chinese Wine, Chinese liquor, Chinese alcohol and Chinese Culture

Tea: Wherever Chinese go, the custom of drinking tea follows. Tea was first discovered by the Chinese. Tea is an indispensable part of the life of a Chinese. A Chinese saying identifies the seven basic daily necessities as fuel, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea. The custom of drinking tea has been ingrained in the Chinese for over a thousand years. During the mid-T'ang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), a man named Lu Yu created the first compendium in the world on tea, the Tea Classic. This work helped to popularize the art of tea drinking all across China.

Chinese Tea is usually green tea, often scented with jasmine.  Black teas may also have a stronger flavor than you are used to.  Some China hotels may provide tea bags, but be prepared for tea to taste different to you. 

 Tea is China's national drink. It contains vitamins, tea derivatives, essential oils, and fluoride. It is a diuretic attributed with the properties of improving the eyesight and increasing alertness, so Chinese believe that frequent tea drinkers enjoy an increased life span. Its medical properties and benefits to the human body have actually been scientifically proven, and tea has come to be generally recognized as a natural health food    Chinese Tea

Coffee: Coffee is becoming more popular, and chains such as Starbucks are opening up in major cities (along with Kentucky Fried Chicken and MacDonalds). 

Milk: Milk is more often soymilk than cow's milk, but the latter is served in hotels which cater to westerners, and fresh, dry or long-life milk is available from convenience stores, as is yoghurt, and delicious yoghurt drinks.