The preparation and eating food is a primary preoccupation of the Chinese. The typical Chinese considers the quality and quantity of daily meals as a measure of the overall quality and success of life. Preparing ordering and eating authentic Chinese cuisine is an art requiring practice. And Taipei, with its reputation as one of the worlds great Chinese culinary centers, is a perfect place in which to develop expertise. In Taiwan., whether you opt for Chinese, Western , Japanese or Korean cuisine, the restaurants of Taiwan have something tasty for every palate. However, its highly recommended you try the Chinese cuisine as many of the so-called Western restaurants serve food that looks and taste like a careless melange of East and West.
Types of Chinese cuisines :
Northern Cuisine generally appeals to Western pallates as it is heartier and more filling that other forms of Chinese food. The Mongol and Muslim influence in northern China has made lamb a favourite meat. The Northerners shy away from too much spice, like chillies and other pungent ingredients but they love garlic, onions, and the smoky saltiness of soy sauce. Recommended northern selections include Peking Duck, mountain celery in mustard sauce, shredded lamb sauteed with scallions, baked-bean curd, steamed vegetarian dumplings and braised beef.
Southern Cuisine is based on the culinary traditions of Guangzhou (Canton), which uses rice as the main staple. Cantonese cuisine is very rich in variety and quite colorful. Cantonese chefs demand fresh ingredients and strive to retain unigue flavor and texture of each one. Most of the food is only lightly cooked. The most ubiquitous and original of Guangzhous specialities are dim sum (the word means snack), which are tasty dumplings stuffed with prawns, beef, pork and other surprises. Dim sum is often eaten as a meal in itself, usually as breakfast or lunch. Dim sum isnt order from menu, rather trolleys laden with steaming dim sum of every shape and flavor are wheeled through the dining rooms. Point and eat. Other renowed Cantonese dishes include roast duck, barbecued pork, poached chicken with scallion oil, roast suckling pig, roasted pigeon, and steamed fish and greens with oyster sauce. Among the finest and most expensive Cantonese dishes are sharks fin soup and boiled abalone. Hong Kong takes honors for Cantonese cuisine but Taipei has its share of fine Southern cuisine.
Eastern Cuisine usually refer to the cuisines of Zhejang , Fujian and Jiangsu are seafood, fresh waterfish and mollusks cooked in rich spices and sauces and slightly sweet. Favorite dishes include the incomparable West Lake vinegar fish, river eel sauteed with tender leeks, fried jumbo prawns, braised port haunch and sauteed sweet-pea shoots.
Western Cuisine includes the meals of Sichuan and Hunan, with their red chillies, fresh ginger root, garlic, scallions and pungently -fremented sauces. The flavors are strong and spicy but not necessarily red-hot like many of the Southeast Asias cuisines. Favorite dishes include beggars chicken, honey ham, steamed minced pigeon in bamboo cup, steamed whole pomfret and frog leg in hot chilli sauce.
The recommended local Taiwanese food include steamed crab, poached squid, fresh poached shrimp, shrimp rolls, grilled eel, sashimi or raw fish , grilled clams and turtle soup.
If you are interested in some typical Chinese food, there are three suggestion for restaurants. The best place to try for perfect Chinese cuisine are the hotel restaurants in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The hotel restaurants are used to serving foreigners and serve probably the best Chinese food available on Taiwan. Second best suggestion is to visit one of the many eateries on the underground floors of the main department stores. Everything is freshly cooked and the prices are quite low. The third suggestion is to go to an ordinary restaurant. But most of the taxi driver will not understand unless you show them the name of the restaurant written in Chinese. Chinese restaurants cater to groups and never individual. Four people minimum to a table. Do not expect to find the food cheap.
Alcohol Drinks and Chinese Tea :
China has produced a variety of fremented wines and distilles spirits for centuries. Most are still available in Taiwan. The most popular dinner beverage is Shaohsing wine, a smoky brew fermented from rice. Dried plums are steeped in the wine, which is served piping hot. The best grade is a fragrant, amber vintage called huadiao. Always drink Shaoshing wine at blood temperature and reject cold Shaoshing wine. Maotai is a potent spirit distilled from sorghum and used mainly for venerable Chinese custom of toasting. For serious drinkers. Kaoliang and Bai-Gar are also made from sorghum but repeatedly distilled until they reach 150 proof. But the overwhelming choice of people who eat in Taiwan or anywhere Far East is chilled beer. Although imported, the adaptable Chinese find beer is the perfect beverage for the Chinese cuisine. Taiwan produces its own brand of brew called Taiwan beer.
Tea is an intrinsic part of Chinese culture. Good Chinese tea taken after a heavy meal, promotes digestion and stimulates the mind, a blend of physical and spiritual benefits that has made tea the most popular beverage in Asia. Taiwan offers three types of tea leaves. Green Tea, are rich in vitamin C. Experts contend that they stimulate the spirit better than any other blend, claiming that it improves their abilities to think and meditate for prolonged periods without fatigue. Oolong, or black dragon tea, is fermented to varying degrees after picking. The taste is somewhat fruity, with a bouquet that has a spicy hint. In Taiwan, Oolong is considered the top blend and Tung-Ting oolong ranks as the best of the crop. The third type is black tea, inexplicably known to the Chinese as red tea. It is most commonly drunk in the West than by the Chinese. They lack the subtle bouquet and delicate balance of flavors that the Chinese prefer. In Taipei, the old-fashion way of drinking tea can be tried at several traditional tea houses including Luyu Tea Center at Hengyang Road and Wisteria Tea House at Hsinsheng South Road.
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