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                                  Hangzhou Cuisine

Chinese cuisine has a long history, and is one of the Chinese cultural treasures . It is famous all over the world . Chinese cookery has developed and matured over the centuries, forming a rich cultural content It is characterized by fine selection of ingredients, precise processing, particular care to the amount of fire, and substantial nourishment. Local flavors and snacks, and special dishes have formed according to regions, local products, climate, historical factors, and eating habits.

Zhejiang cuisine is one of the Eight Great Cuisines of China, including Hangzhou flavor, Ningbo flavor and Shaoxing flavor. Hangzhou cuisine is the representative of Zhejiang cuisine.

Hangzhou cuisine is currently one of the most popular and fashionable styles of cooking throughout China and especially in neighboring Shanghai. A wealth of "Hangzhou" inspired restaurants have shot up throughout the country and the cuisine from this city has been elevated to a superior status.

Hangzhou cooking is closely related to the local culture and characterized by natural flavor, beautiful presentation and a light and palatable taste. Dishes and pastries which would have once been served on pleasure boats sailing up and down the lake remain the main staple of the Hangzhou diet and recipes here usually contain a great deal of seafood including fish, shrimp, crab and oyster. Any dining experience in Hangzhou should include at least a few of the following local specialties: Beggar's chicken (an entire chicken cooked in a ball of mud), West Lake fish (vinegar coated fish from the lake) and braised pork and stewed shelled shrimp cooked in Longjing tea.   Hangzhou adopted a system of management by designation to ensure that both Chinese and foreign tourist groups can enjoy good restaurant services. The "Yuanhua food Street" and the middle part of the Stadium Road has become a "food street" with comparatively intensive service facilities for food and drinks. The Louwailou Restaurant and some other restaurants have been designated as local-style restaurants, the Haifeng Western Food Service as a western food restaurant, and the Phoenix Muslim Restaurant as a Muslim restaurant. All of them are famous restaurants in Hangzhou, Known for their excellent cooking techniques, good service, and clean surroundings.

Hangzhou cuisine is characterized by its elaborate preparation and varying techniques of cooking, such as sauteing, stewing, and stir- and deep-frying. Hangzhou food tastes fresh and crisp, varying with the change of season. Ningbo food is a bit salty but delicious. Specializing in steamed, roasted and braised seafood, Ningbo cuisine is particular in retaining the original freshness, tenderness and softness. Shaoxing cuisine offers fresh aquatic food and poultry that has a special rural flavor, sweet in smell, soft and glutinous in taste, thick in gravy and strong in season.

Each of the three sub-cuisine traditions is noted for its special flavor and taste, but they are all characterized by the careful selection of ingredients, emphasizing minute preparation, and unique, fresh and tender tastes.

Zhejiang cuisine specializes in quick-frying, stir-frying, deep-frying, simmering and steaming, obtaining the natural flavor and taste. Special care is taken in the cooking process to make the food fresh, crispy and tender. Thanks to exquisite preparation, the dishes are not only delicious in taste and but also extremely elegant in appearance. Zhejiang cuisine is best represented by Hangzhou dishes, including Hangzhou roast chicken (commonly known as Beggar's chicken), Dongpo pork, west lake fish in vinegar sauce, Songsao Shredded Fishsoup, etc.

Legend has it that Beggar's chicken was invented by a Hangzhou thief. The story goes that because the thief had no stove, he wrapped the stolen bird in clay and baked it in a hole in the ground; another version explains that he was a hungry thief who found a way to cook his bird and keep it and its aroma secret!

Hangzhou is one of the premier places to eat in China, and its food consists more of pork and seafood rather than the beef and lamb of the north and west. If you do not like Hangzhou food, you can find plenty of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Xinjiang restaurants throughou the city. Typical Hangzhou specialties include dongpo rou, an extremely fatty chunk of pork in a syrupy sauce, and cuyu, which is fish with a vinegar sauce.

Famous dishes: West Lake Sour Fish, Dongpo Pork, Longjing Shrimp Meat, Jiaohua Young Chickens, Steam Rice Flower and Pork Wrapped by Lotus Leaves, Braised Bamboo Shoots and Whitefish with Fermented Glutinous Rice.

Dongpo Pork First created by Su Dongpo, a well-known writer and poet of the Song Dynasty, when he served as a local official of Hangzhou, Dongpo Pork is red and bright in color, oily but not greasy, crisp but not smashed, plus mellow juice.

West Lake Sour Fish Prepared with fresh and alive grass carps from the West Lake, this dish integrates delicious, sweet and sour tastes, with tender fish meat, which tastes just like crabmeat.

Beggar's Chicken (Jiaohua Young Chicken ) Select fat and young Yue chicken, clean the chicken thoroughly, add seasonings to the chicken, wrap it with special materials, and bake it over a low fire. Jiaohua Young Chicken is aromatic, tasty, and soft, with tender meat.

Sister-in-Law Song's Thick Fish Soup It was a famous dish of the Southern Song Dynasty, with a wide variety of ingredients, a yellow color, and a tender and delicious taste. As it tastes like crabmeat thick soup, it is also known as "Treasure Crab Thick Soup."

Budget For budget restaurants, even near the lake, just head into an alley and get some food from a small restaurant or street-side stand. You should judge for yourself how sanitary the food is, but Hangzhou is generally fairly civilized in this respect relative to other Chinese cities. These restaurants are all quite similar.

Food Street on the Stadium Road

About 1km long, the middle section of the Stadium Road is a flourishing area with the  greatest stream of people in the city of Hangzhou. There are 25 different restaurants in this area, with more than 8,500 seats, forming a fairly concentrated "food street" in the city, providing Hangzhou dishes, Guangdong dishes, South Korean cooking, KFC fast food, hotpots, snacks, refreshment and so forth, with various prices suitable for both visitors and local residents.

Food Street of the Yuanhua Plaza

Along the food street of the Yuanhua Plaza, Shangcheng district of Hangzhou, there are 27 restaurants, teahouses and bars, with more than 800 seats. Having business hours as long as 12 hours or more, they primarily provide Hangzhou dishes, Zhejiang dishes, snacks with various flavors, along with Dragon's Well green tea, wines and soft drinks.

Hangzhou River Holiday Village's Yuexiu Show and Banquet Hall

Located on the Qiantang River bank, opposite to the Six Harmonies Pagoda, one of the famous historical sites of Hangzhou, the Hangzhou River Holiday Village's Yuexiu Show and Banquet Hall is a banquet hall with Hangzhou folk decoration, local features and stage shows. With 268 seats in total, the hall provides visitors from all over the world with dishes of rich Hangzhou flavor, such as the West Lake Fish in Vinegar Sauce, Beggar's chicken, Dragon Well Shrimp Meat, Pot Roast Pork with Dried Turnip, Crispy Spring Pigeon, Tendon Fried with Bamboo Shoots, Stewed Old Duck with Dried Bamboo Shoots. It also provides a colorful night life program consisting of fashion shows, Zhejiang local opera, juggling conjuring tricks, singing and dancing

In Hangzhou you are in the centre of one of six major styles of Chinese cuisine. The food culture of Hangzhou is very light in the sense that it belongs to the cuisine of cooked food. This technique makes it possible to make the dishes with a mix of sweetness and salty, which is one of the distinguishing features of the Hangzhou cuisine. The second feature is that the food is not so oily as in other kinds of Chinese cuisine.

If you are coming to Hangzhou in springtime, one of the things you won’t miss is to try planked new bamboo shots stewed in peanut oil, words simply can describe the taste - you have to come and taste it for yourself. The meat you find inn the menu is mainly pork and seafood, beef and lamb are not so popular as in the North and West. Other sorts of the Chinese cuisine, like Sichuan and Shaanxi, are of course also represented in Hangzhou.

Although you are in Hangzhou and in China, the city offers a lot of possibilities to have a non-Chinese meal. Many restaurants serve food from all over the world, which is good to know, if you are longing for home food.


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