We get it. Stepping into a Chinese Restaurant and perusing a menu that’s three times longer than the average European restaurant menu can be intimidating. You’ll be introduced to words that you don’t understand and ingredients you don’t recognise. How do you know what to order? How do you know your order will be to your taste? What kind of appetiser compliments which main? Fortune cookies? Is that a real thing or something that only exists in American movies? At New Eden Chinese Restaurant, we understand how our customers can find navigating a Chinese restaurant menu puzzling. It's for this very reason that our servers are always available to answer any questions and make food recommendations. However, if you want to gain a greater understanding of authentic Chinese food before you come to our restaurant we urge you to read on.
Authentic Chinese Food: The Basics
Let’s get a few things out of the way before going into more detail. Fortune cookies are a Japanese staple and aren't found in Chinese Restaurants. Now that's out of the way let's talk about how Chinese food differs by region.
Chinese Food By region
Broadly speaking Chinese food is divided into four major cuisine regions:
This cuisine is derived from traditional cooking methods that originated in the northern coastal province of China. Some of the characteristics of Shandong cuisine are its light with succulent aroma, the freshness of the ingredients used and of course its rich taste. Some of the tell-tale ingredients used in Shandong cuisine include Maize, grain, peanuts, vinegar and staple vegetables like aubergines, garlic, onions, bell peppers, etc. The fishy, tender and salty taste of Shandong dishes make it particularly popular with Irish people’s more muted palette.
As the name suggests, the Sichuan Cuisine originates from the Sichuan region in southwest China. This bold and flavoursome Cuisine is known for its liberal use of spicy peppers and garlic. But its most distinctive feature is the use of the Sichuan pepper. The rich complex flavours of Sichuan cuisine, not to mention its plentiful use of spices mean these dishes are a favourite with more adventurous foodies.
The more obvious characteristics of Cantonese cuisine are the distinctive sauces. These sauces are made from ingredients including salt, soy sauce, rice wine, corn-starch, scallions, and vinegar. Garlic is also used in dishes to enhance flavour. Cantonese cuisine is often found in international Chinese restaurants and traditional Cantonese dishes are what most people think of when speaking about Chinese food.
Jiangsu cuisine is native to the eastern-central coastal region of China. This cooking style is further broken down into four sub-groups known as the Nanjing Style, the Suzhou Style, Wii Style and the Nantong style. These styles incorporate fresh ingredients and lots of seafood. The Jiangsu style is recommended for seafood lovers and for those who enjoy complex flavours.
We hope the above gives a sense of why so many Chinese restaurants have such a large selection. We are incorporating thousands of years of culinary traditions after all. Next time you pop into our restaurant we hope you’ll be able to tell which dishes come from which region and which regional dish is right for your palette.
To make a booking in our Cork restaurant, get in contact with our front of house team today.