The Chinese, by no means at a loss for clear description, describe
their cuisine as an 'ancient art of ultimate harmony: pleasing
to the eye; mouth-watering; and a delight to the palate'.
Cooking styles are mixed from all over China which include Canton,
Hunan, Mongolia, Peking, Shanghai, Szechuan and Taiwan.
Cantonese food is richer and sweeter
than that of other regions. Dishes consist of fried shrimp with
cashews, beef with oyster sauce, onion-marinated chicken and sweet-and-sour
pork. Pastries include buns, sweet paste or preserves, steamed dumplings
stuffed with meat, deep-fried spring rolls and tarts.
Pekinese cuisine is more mild,
combining roast or barbecued meat (often cooked
at the table), flat pancake wrappers and vegetables. Dishes include
Peking duck, carp cooked 3 ways, chicken-in-paper, eels with pepper
sauce, steamed prawns, diced chicken in heavy sauce and ham marrow
Szechuan cuisine which is hot
and spicy, is based on red chilli pepper and garlic.
Dishes include Gungbao chicken, Mother Ma's bean curd, aubergine
with garlic sauce, minced chicken with Gingko nuts, and fried prawns
with pepper sauce. Fried breads make a nice change from rice.
Shanghai cuisine contains mainly seafood
with rich salty sauces. Dishes include ningpo (fried eel),
shark's fin in chicken, mushroom with crab meat, West Lake fish
and shark's fin soup.
Hunan has equally
spicy and steamed dishes including diced chicken with peanuts,
steamed ham and honey sauce, steamed silver thread rolls and smoked
Mongolian cooking consists of 2
basic dishes of Huoguo ('firepot' - meat
dipped in a sauce based on sesame paste, shrimp oil, ginger juice
and bean paste) and barbecue (numerous slices of
meat and vegetables cooked on an iron grill and eaten in a sesame
Taiwanese cuisine is mostly seafood
with rich and thick sauces. It is based on garlic in the
north and soy sauce in the south. Dishes include spring rolls with
peanut butter, bean curd in red sauce, sweet-and-sour spare ribs,
oyster omelette and a number of great seafoods.
For additional information on Chinese cuisine, consult the corresponding
sub-sections in the sections for Hong Kong (SAR) and China (PR).
Though some hotels provide buffet/barbecue lunches, most restaurants
regularly provide table service. Hotels almost feature restaurants
providing both Western and Chinese food, and some of the major hotels
provide numerous styles of Chinese cooking (the Chinese
word for hotel, fan-dien, means 'eating place'). The majority of
bars have counter service.
There are no set licensing hours and alcohol is
Taiwan provides plenty of nightlife activities,
and Taipei in particular is sparkling at
night. Hotels as well as many discos, clubs, restaurants
and cinemas in Taipei offer western-style entertainment. Popular
amongst the locals are KTVs, a type of
sing-along club modelled on Japanese karaoke bars; and beer
houses, which sell draught beer and snacks.
The northern area of Tienmu has a street of outdoor
beer houses. Tourists can also sample both traditional
and modern tea houses; open all day and in the evening.
In the tea-growing countryside around Mucha,
it is practicable to visit the all-night tea houses
and sip locally made teas such as 'iron Buddha'
tiehkuanyin tea. High-quality food and refreshments
are also offered. They are popular with native people, mostly on
Back in Taipei, there are night markets
that sell a wide range of both modern
and traditional products. These are full of life
with browsers and bargainers, whose persistence can be amazingly
rewarded. It has been suggested that buyers should take
a pen and paper to help in the bargaining procedure, because
most sellers can speak only Chinese.
Taipei's biggest night market is likely Shihlin
Night Market, well-known for its great value clothing
and food. Snacks such as papaya milkshakes, pork liver
soup and oyster omelettes are available. A number of shops open
One of the best ways to shop is to go to the night markets
Famous purchases are hand painted palace lanterns made from silk,
Formosan sea-grass mats, bamboo items, handbags and slippers, hats,
Chinese musical instruments, various dolls in costume, lacquerware,
teak furniture, ceramics, coral, brassware, veinstone and jade items,
ramie fibre rugs, handmade shoes, fabrics and chopsticks (decorated,
personalised sticks of wood or marble).
hours: Monday to Saturday: 9.00 am to 10.00 pm.
Handshaking is a common way of greeting. Casual wear is generally
welcome. Ancient festivals and traditions are celebrated passionately
and traditional holidays are important. Entertainment is always
presented in restaurants, not at home. Guests are not expected to
entertain. Chinese culture in the form of drama, opera and art is
very strong. In spite of fast industrialisation and development,
the way of life is very much Chinese, steeped in custom and old
Tipping is not a recognized custom, though it is increasing. Hotels
and restaurants in Taipei normally add a 10% service charge into
the bills and additional tipping is not expected. It is uncommon
to tip taxi drivers. The average tip for porters is NT$50 per piece