Although in the rest of the countries we see the Chinese food as a pack, the truth is that they divide it in different culinary traditions, being more concrete there are 8 different types of Chinese cuisine.
This means that depending on the area, there is a different cooking style and the dishes you can try are nothing alike. Plus, in China, the 8 cuisines are seen as an inspiration, and everyone tries to follow their steps.
Let´s discover which kind is your favorite. Some are spicy, others are salty, others are light… each of them has its own characteristics:
1) Cantonese/ Guangdong Cuisine
Let´s start with the one that is considered the most famous one the “Cantonese cuisine” or how it´s expressed in Chinese “粤菜 Yuècài”. This type of cuisine is recognized for being very sweet, for having soft sauces, a very fresh and natural taste and not using many spices.
The Cantonese cuisine is not only known all over China, but also internationally and its origins are in the Guangdong province, in Hong Kong and in Macau.
Here you will find many seafood and rice dishes, these are some of the most popular foods from the Guangdong Cuisine: Roasted Suckling Pig, Youtiao and the Shahe noodles.
2) Sichuan Cuisine
Cantonese cuisine is the most popular internationally, but inside Chine the most common one is the Sichuan or also known in Chinese as “川菜 Chuān cài”. You will find this type of Chinese cuisine in the Sichuan province and being more concrete in the cities of Chengdu and Chongqing.
The Sichuan cuisine is recognized for having rich flavors and for being very spicy. They use ingredients like chili, ginger, garlic all the time, but specially the Sichuan pepper which is not common at all in other regions.
If we had to choose one dish to name it as the most popular, it would be the hot pot, but other foods like the Kung Pao Chicken or the Dandan noodles are also very famous.
3) Fujian Cuisine
On third place we are going to tell you about a food that it´s not so known and it can be a little bit mysterious, it´s the Fujian or Min cuisine, which is also known as “闽菜 Mǐncài” in Chinese. To find it you will need to visit of course the Fujian province, Xiamen or Quanzhou… Areas of the Southeast of China.
The food of this region is well known for being very light, sweet and the most important, non-greasy at all. Oh, it´s also recognized for using many ingredients from the mountains and from the ocean.
Some of the foods you can find are the sweet and sour lichis, the Oyster Omelette and the Buddha Jumps over the Wall.
4) Jiangsu Cuisine
You won´t forget this cuisine of China because is very artistic and photogenic. There are many characteristics of the cuisine from Jiangsu, but one of them is that it´s very colorful. The Jiangsu cuisine is known as 苏菜 Sūcài in Chinese and is a mix of different styles of cooking (From Yangzhou, Nanjing, Huaiyang, Suzhou and Zhenjiang).
This kind of food is very gourmet and of course you will be able to eat in the Jiangsu province, in Nanjing and in areas like Suzhou. About its taste, we could say that this type of Chinese cuisine is known for having umami flavors, it´s very natural and delicate.
The Nanjing Salted Duck, the Yangzhou fried rice and the sweet and sour mandarin fish are some of their most popular dishes.
5) Hunan Cuisine
The typical food from the Southern-central China is the Hunan Cuisine, also known as Xiang Cuisine, or like they say in Chinese “湘菜 Xiāngcài /sshyang-tseye”. Being more concrete, you will find it a lot in the cities of Changsha and Zhangjiajie, which are part of the Hunan province.
You may have realized that the majority of the styles are very sweet, natural and non-aggressive, well the Hunan Cusinie is very different. Here the food is especially hot, probably is the area where they serve the hottest food, and of course is the one that tourists pay more attention to. They use a lot of dry and fresh chili!
The most popular dish is the Steamed Fish Head with Chopped Chili, but you may also want to try the Changsha Stinky Tofu or the Hunan Rice Noodles.
6) Zheijang Cuisine
We like the Zheijang Cuisine because is very different to any other, they are specialized in fresh foods and in controlling the fire heat. Another thing we have to highlight is that they have a huge variety of cooking methods, and the one they use the most is frying.
The Zheijang Cuisine is also known as Zhe Cuisine or in Chinese as “浙菜 Zhècài”. Of course, the area where it´s popular is the Zheijang province. This type of food is not very elaborated, and their main goal is to serve fresh foods.
We could even consider it similar to Japanese food. Their most popular dishes are the Dongpo Pork and the West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy.
7) Anhui Cuisine
On seventh place, we are talking about probably the lesser known of the 8 types of Chinese Cuisines. The Anhui Cuisine, also known as Hui Cuisine or how they say in Chinese “徽菜 Huīcài /hway-tseye”, is popular in the Anhui province and especially in Huangshan.
This type of food is recognized for being very natural, fresh and light, it uses many wild plants and animals, and it is said that it´s a good diet to keep your body healthy and be more active.
Some popular dishes of this cuisine are the Fried Hairy Tofu, the Ham and “Whippy” Bamboo Stew and the Snowy Winter Roast Chicken.
8) Shandong Cuisine
To finish the 8 types of cuisines in China we have the Shandong or Lu cuisine, also known in Chinese as “鲁菜 lǔ cài”. Other than the Shandong Province, this food is also very common in the southern area of Liaoning Province.
The typical flavors of this cuisine are salty, sweet and sour and umami, and some things they use a lot are the soup, the garlic, the ginger and the scallion. Oh, yes, they are also experts on cooking with seafood.
This style of cooking is one of the oldest in China. Some of their most popular meals are: Caramel Sweet Potato, Omelet Chicken Slices and Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion.
Which is your favorite type of cuisine in China?
That´s all you need to know about the different types of Chinese food, as you have seen some of them have elements in common and others are very unique, but what we can say is that all of them are very elaborated.
Before leaving, let us know in the comments which one would you like to try…and if you have any other question or suggestion, please let us know!