Coming back to Singapore after almost 10 years away, one thing that struck me is the proliferation of regional Chinese food. Mala is the most visible manifestation, but the southern Chinese dishes we all know and love have been supplemented by restaurants serving up more or less unadulterated dishes from northern, northeastern, western and central parts of China. Yet since they cater mostly to recent immigrants, many of them are nearly invisible on the English-speaking Internet: they’re rarely covered by local bloggers, mostly missing from the usual delivery services and often not even listed on Google Maps.
With my business travel plans to China scotched by COVID-19 for the foreseeable feature, I figured I’d set a goal for myself: trot out my 非常不好 Mandarin and try to explore the food of every one of China’s 34 provinces right here in Singapore. Easy enough for Shanghai or Hong Kong; a bit more challenging for Guizhou or Anhui.
The 34 provinces as we know them today were only set up in the 1950s, with tweaks continuing up to the 1990s, so Chinese culinary traditions don’t map them to them all that neatly either. So here’s a listing of China’s regions, their culinary traditions (the Eight Great highlighted in bold) and, roughly, how the provinces slot under them.
|Region 地区||Cuisine 菜||Province 省|
|Northwest 西北 Xīběi||Xibei 西北菜||Qinghai|
|Northeast 东北 Dōngběi||Dongbei 东北菜||Heilongjiang|
|North 华北 Huáběi||Inner Mongolia|
|East 华东 Huádōng||Lu 鲁菜||Shandong|
|Southwest 西南 Xīnán||Chuan 川菜||Sichuan|
|Central 中南 Zhōngnán||Yue 粤菜|
Here’s my current plan of action, noting dishes & drinks to try and places to try them, and the map version of the same. All things considered, I’d prefer to eat everyday/street/”real” food instead of fancy 5-star hotel restaurant stuff, but I’m open to everything. If you have suggestions or would like to you’d like to offer your services as tour guide/translator/culinary consultant, please comment directly on the doc, join the 34 Province Project mailing list or Telegram group or drop me a line!
Pick an link from the table above, or start your journey here: Xinjiang >>>
Compliments to the blog! What a great idea! I’m a freelance Chinese teacher/ former culinary student with a passion for food, language and culture. I’ve been living in Singapore for the past 10 years. Covid has made me missing home and flavors of home more than ever.
I was thinking of doing something similar, when I saw your post I was amazed! Well done!
Let me know if you need any help with language and researching. I’m not promoting my service here, just genuinely happy to find your blog and am interested in your project.
Take care and stay safe!