Talking about Chinese food, an indisputable fact that comes to the fore is that the cuisine from China contains perhaps the longest lineup of the world’s most loved dishes. Food has been the most significant cultural aspect through the whole history of China. So, it will be a matter of curiosity to reflect on some interesting facts concerning Chinese food and Chinese cuisine in general.  Here are a few interesting Chinese food facts:

Regional Cuisines

It is said that Chinese cuisine is the amalgamation of eight regional cuisines, namely Anhui, Cantonese (Guandong), Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang cuisines. Each of the cuisines differs from one another on several facets of the food, including ingredients, cooking style, level of spiciness, and so on. Being one of the largest countries in the world, Chinese geography and seasonal attributes vary remarkably from regions to regions. The difference in regional cuisines took place as a result of the difference in various factors, including, availability of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle.Chinese food - rice dish

Rice and noodles are the most used staples in China. Noodles and wheat are more popular in the Northern part of China, whereas in Southern China, rice dishes are more popular. The South also favours noodles, but it is rice noodles.

If you look from another perspective, the Northern Chinese food could be found out as simpler and salty ones, with wheat as the staple and without many vegetable ingredients. Looking at the Western Chinese Food, halal lamb dishes are more popular. Central Chinese regions feature spicy and hot dishes whereas, in the South, the food largely turned out into sour flavoured ones. If you want sweet and light Chinese dishes, Eastern regions will be the best choice.

The Three Aspects

Another Chinese food fact is regarding the notion which defines good food. According to Chinese tradition, good food is defined based on the three aspects, namely, the appearance, aroma and flavor. A dish which satisfies all three attributes is treated as good food. Some observations divide ‘appearance’ into ‘colour’ and ‘texture’ making the number of aspects four.


Another interesting Chinese food fact is connected to its symbolism. As per Chinese traditional beliefs, food has the ability to represent something auspicious. Such symbolic motifs are still significant within the Chinese community, mostly in connection with festivals. So, preparing and serving certain dishes can have an implied meaning in a typical Chinese settlement, such as good wishes, fortune, blessings, unity, and remembrance and so on.

For example, Chinese traditional dumplings with their unique shapes resembling metallic blocks symbolize ‘wealth and richness’ during the Chinese New Year.

Another example is mooncake, which is normally in a round shape representing ‘unity’. This symbolism is significant during the moon cake festival (mid-autumn festival), the season of family reunion. Generally, round shaped food often symbolizes ‘reunion’ and ‘unity’.

Chinese dumplings

During wedding seasons, seeds are served in abundance, which symbolizes ‘bearing many children’. Similarly, ‘egg’ is ceremonial during childbirth, which symbolizes ‘fertility’. Noodles are normally served during birthday celebrations, along with peach fruits, both symbolize ‘longevity’ and ‘long life’.

Greetings & Ceremonies

food and eating have been etched in Chinese culture so significantly that there are some greetings used by traditional Chinese which has food as the central theme. For example, one of the old ways of greeting very close friends and relatives is by using a term ‘Ni chi le ma’. The meaning of the phrase is ‘have you had food?’

The traditional tea ceremony is another fascinating aspect of Chinese culture that requires special mention while talking about greetings. The Chinese serve tea between friends and family ceremoniously, especially during the important phases of life. Generally, serving tea to someone shows respect. So, naturally, you would see younger ones serving tea to the elder ones quite often. Serving tea is also a sign of saying ‘sorry’ when a formal apology is needed, apart from showing gratitude.  Also, tea is ceremonially served during family get-togethers and wedding occasions. Every single home in China will have a set of tea brewing and serving utensils as tea ceremonies are wholly anticipated.


Chopsticks are the Chinese alternative for dining utensils like spoon, knife and fork. Chopsticks always come as a pair of long sticks which can be held together in one hand to collect the food from the dinner plates or bowls. It is estimated that 45 billion chopsticks are used by the Chinese every year.

Chopsticks are known in China by the term ‘kuaizi’. The Chinese use chopsticks to serve and eat food for over 6000 years.  Common chopsticks are made of bamboo, wood and plastic, but they are also made using silver, ivory, jade and gold for luxury purpose.

There are a number of customs and traditions associated with the use of chopsticks. Helping the elders get food using chopsticks, keeping the bowl closely to one’s mouth while using the chopsticks, etc are some of the accepted and appreciated good manners. Whereas, tapping on the bowl using chopsticks, piercing food with chopsticks, digging food within the bowl, etc are considered impolite.

Chinese hotpot dish

Popular Chinese Dishes

A number of dishes from China are well known all across the world. If the Chinese dishes are to be ranked based on the global popularity scale, the ones which top the list will be hotpot dishes.

Hotpot is a communal dish cooked right on the tabletop. The pot contains boiling water filled with herbs and spices. The participants can add their favorite ingredients into the hot pot to get it cooked. Usually, a hotpot dish is composed of five fundamental components, which are the broth, meat & seafood, starch, vegetables, and condiments. Hotpot is a healthy dish, and preparing a hotpot is a great way to socialize in Chinese culture. Though variations of hotpot exist in different provinces of China, the most popular ones are Sichuan style hotpot and Beijing style mutton hotpot.

Another popular dish is Beijing roast duck (also called Pecking Duck). An interesting fact is that during the Imperial China, only the emperor was allowed to eat pecking roast duck, as it was considered a royal delicacy.

Sweet and sour pork is another world famous Chinese dish. Originally from the Cantonese cuisine, sweet and sour pork gets its name because of the use of a Hunanese sauce which is sweet and sour. A few other Chinese dishes to be mentioned are Kung Pao chicken, Ma Po tofu, wontons, dumplings, and so on.

Yin and Yang

As Chinese food closely evolved with Chinese medicine, the traditional ‘Yin and Yang’ concept significantly has influenced the food traditions. Yin symbolizes the shady, dark and cold traits, whereas Yang stands for sunny, bright and hot attributes. The Yin and Yang concept advocates a well-balanced diet of both cold and warm food. It is to be noted that the coldness and the warmth of food are not measured by the degree of heat, but by the inherent nature of the food.

Yin food includes soy and tofu products, some types of meat products like crab and duck, some fruits, vegetables, fish, honey and seaweed and so on. Whereas, meat products like chicken, pork and beef, spices, eggs, alcohol, shrimp, some vegetables like cabbage, some fruits like durian and mango, and mushrooms are considered Yang. Different Yin food items may have different levels of Yin, and the same is with Yang food also. The Yin and Yang principle says that when you add a Yin item to your food, you need to balance it with a Yang food.

Chinese rice and duck dish

Chinese Vegetarian Food

Well known for its meat-based dishes, Chinese cuisine also boasts of a range of vegetarian dishes which are tasty and at the same time healthy. One step further, you could find plenty of vegetarian dishes in China as suitable for a perfect vegan diet. For example, soy-based tofu is a product which is often used as an alternative for regular milk curd. There are a range of tofu dishes which resemble meat dishes, for eg, mapo tofu. The base recipe of mapo tofu calls for minced pork as an ingredient, but you can use the same recipe without pork, and it tastes authentic and remains totally vegetarian.

Vegetable fried rice and tofu fried rice are two different rice dishes, which are suitable for a perfect vegetarian diet. The original recipe may have egg as an ingredient. But you can request them without egg. Veggie chow mein, tofu chow mein, vegetable steamed dumplings, steamed rice, etc are just a few other dishes present in Chinese cuisine which are absolutely suitable for a vegetarian diet.

If you dig further, gazillions of Chinese food facts could be traced as the topic is such a vast and wide one. The above-mentioned are just a few which are easily recognized by a normal Chinese food lover.