Regional Specialties You May Find In Chinese Restaurants

Posted on: 27 August 2015


When you are trying to choose a Chinese restaurant, you may be exposed to words or terms which leave you more bewildered than ever. Chinese restaurants are often identified by their individual specialty dishes, which usually originate from a particularregion of China.

Here are a few regional terms that you may hear that will help you to determine if a Chinese restaurant is right for you:


This is the style of Chinese food that is most familiar to native Canadians, albeit with some variations to satisfy Western tastes. Dishes use familar sauces such as sweet and sour sauce and oyster sauce. Spices are mild in comparison to foods from other regions.

Cantonese cuisine is the most prevalent style of Chinese food because of the large number of emigrants from the area, and has been the most modified style because of its continued presence in the West.

Dim sum

This is a popular Cantonese tradition that consists of many small dishes served with tea. It is typically served for several hours from late morning to mid-afternoon. Dim sum restaurants are usually found in cities with sizable Asian populations, and sometimes served only on weekends. Getting seated may require a long wait, as extended families gather to feast on a variety of dumplings, glutinous rice dishes, and chicken feet in oyster sauce. 

When eating dim sum, no menu is required. Food in bamboo steamers is pushed around on carts, and is chosen throughout the meal a la carte. The experience and tradition is as important as the food.


This cuisine originates from a cool wet region of China, and brings heat through the liberal use of chili peppers in its signature dishes. Because some of these dishes are too hot for Western palates, many Szechuan restaurants offer modified signature dishes, or supply a "heat" rating beside each menu item. 


This cuisine offers specialties not unlike those found in Szechuan signature dishes, but takes the heat up a notch through the use of Chinese peppercorns that are even hotter than chili peppers. Of course, the fire can always be quenched with some Tsingtao Chinese beer.

The best Chinese restaurant will have something for everyone. It may modify some of its dishes to match the palates of many of its customers, but will always keep a few authentic signature dishes, to preserve their heritage and to serve to their fellow Chinese emigrants who long for a taste of home. Check out a local restaurant, such as Ginger Beef Restaurants Coach Hill, to see the menu offerings.