Just as Chinese spoken language varies from district to district, so does Chinese cuisine. Different districts have different styles of Chinese diet. As early as the 7th century B.C. Chinese cuisine began to be separated as Southern and Northern cuisines. There are four major streams of Chinese cuisine have emerged to represent the cooking style of the four major geographic areas of China – north, south, east, and west. Unique local climate, history and food availabilities in one region characterized the special and distinct Chinese cuisine in that region. In general, sugar is produced in the South and so southern cooking tends to be sweet, while the North is a salt-producing area and its food is rather salty. Jiangsu and Zhejiang is a low-lying area crisscrossed with rivers and lakes and close to the sea, prawn dishes are its specialty.
Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine features the cooking style in southern China – Hongkong, Guangdong, as well as Fuian province and Taiwan. The popularity of southern Cantonese cuisine comes from the subtle use of sauces, the diversity of ingredients and cooking methods. The use of seafood, a wide variety of meats, fresh fruit, and vegetables combine with the methods of stir-frying, steaming, and roasting have made Cantonese dishes one of the most popular Chinese cuisine. We also have the Cantonese to thank for dim sum (dian xin), literally meaning "touch your heart" – consists of very small portions of varied assortment of pastries and dumplings that originated in Chinese teahouses. It is usually served with tea from late morning until early afternoon. Chinese use dim sum brunches as an opportunity for families to share the time together or to catch up with friends while enjoying the tea and many different types of delicacies.
Sichuan Cuisine, known more commonly in the West as Sichuan Cuisine, is one of the most famous Chinese cuisines in the world. Characterized by its spicy and pungent flavors, Sichuan cuisine, with a myriad of tastes, emphasizes the use of chili. Pepper and prickly ash are always in accompaniment, producing the typical exciting tastes. Garlic, ginger and fermented soybean are also used in the cooking process. Wild vegetables and meats such as are often chosen as ingredients, while frying, frying without oil, pickling and braising are used as basic cooking techniques. It can be said that one who doesn't experience Sichuan food has never reached China. Typical menu items: Hot Pot; Smoked Duck; Gong Bao Chicken; Twice Cooked Pork; Mapo Doufu.
Consisting of Jinan cuisine and Jiao dong cuisine in Shandong province ，Shandong cuisine, clean, pure and not greasy, is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness. Shallots and garlic are frequently used as seasonings so Shandong dishes taste pungent. Soups are given much emphasis in Shandong cuisine. Thin soups are clear and fresh while creamy soups are thick and taste strong. Jinan chefs are adept at deep-frying, grilling, pan-frying and stir-frying while Jiaodong chefs are famous for cooking seafood with a fresh and light taste. Typical menu items: Bird's Nest Soup; Yellow River Carp in Sweet and Sour sauce
Jiangsu-Zhejiang cuisine in Jiangsu and Zhejiang province is popular in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is characterized by its sweet flavor. It is based on four cooking methods: boiling, stewing, braising and simmering, with few added ingredients apart from the main materials. Cooked in their own juices, the dishes are fresh, tender, fragrant and rich-either crisp or soft, but never greasy. A good balance is kept between under and over seasoning, and the meat falls easily off the bones. Famous Jiangsu and Zhejiang dishes include West Lake Vinegar Fish, Roasted Pork Cubes and Beggar’s Chicken.