Taiwan can be termed a melting pot of all the great culinary traditions, both Chinese and foreign. In any town, city, or village in this country, it is said, there is a snack shop within three steps and a large restaurant within five, making dining in Taiwan a matter of the utmost convenience. All of China's regional culinary styles are available, from those of Beijing, Tianjing, and Shandong of the north to those of Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and Taiwan in the south. You can also find restaurants in Taiwan that serve the cuisines of other countries all over the world, including the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and India, among others. The famous international fast-food and restaurant chain--McDonald's, KFC, Mos Burger, Pizza Hut, and others--also have outlets scattered all over the main cities. Taiwan also offers its own unique types of restaurant, such as vegetarian, "improved" hot pot (including medicinal hot pot), and local snacks, that offer a native Taiwanese taste. If you would like to have a drink before or after your meal, there are plenty of bars, pubs, and beer houses to choose from.
The emphasis in Taiwanese cooking is on light, natural flavors and freshness, and there is no pursuit of complex flavors. Another feature of Taiwanese cuisine is that tonic foods are prepared by using different types of medicinal ingredients for the various seasons of the year.
Cantonese cooking is known for its meticulous methods of preparation, whether fried, roasted, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled, and the vessels used to contain this food are known for their exquisite nature.
Dried and pickled foods have an important position in the cuisine of the Hakka people. Flavors are relatively heavy, and this food features fried, spiced, well-done, salty, and fatty dishes.
The most prominent characteristic of Sichuan cooking is that it uses the most common materials to produce dishes with a most uncommon flavor. It is best known, of course, for its spicy hotness.
This culinary tradition combines the features of Qing Dynasty court dishes, Moslem cuisines, and Mongolian tastes, and Beijing food can be eaten in a surprising variety of ways. Beijing chefs place heavy emphasis on cooking time and slicing techniques, and they strive for subtle tastes and soft and tender textures.
Shanghainese food is the representative cuisine of this tradition, which originated along the lower reaches of the Yangzi River and the southeastern coastal areas of the country. Because the many rivers and lakes in this area produce rich harvests of shrimp, crabs, eels, and the like, Jiangzhe cuisine concentrates on seafood.
The preparation of meats by smoking is one of the most prominent features of richly flavored Hunan cuisine. Hunan has one thing in common with Sichuan in its cuisine: many of their dishes use large amounts of chili peppers, making them very hot and spicy.