Hunan Cuisine, also known as ' Xiang' Cuisine is renowned as one of the Eight Cuisines of China. It is features a fine and delicate appearance together with a hot and spicy flavor. The chefs cut the vegetables into fascinating shapes and patterns and use them to create a handsome assortment of cold dishes. Each dish tells its own story.
Like China's southwestern Sichuan Province, the major part of the Hunan Province is a lowland area with relatively high humidity. Therefore, as with the people of Sichuan, the local people have developed the habit of eating capsicum to combat the humidity and induce a feeling of coolness. Hunan Cuisine has a hot and strong savor. Typical of this cuisine is the famous seasoning called Liuyang Lobster Sauce. This is a kind of bean sauce made with pepper and capsicum that is often added to dishes to create a hot flavor.
In contrast with the more widely recognized quick stir fry method of Chinese cooking, gentle simmering is an important feature of Hunan Cuisine. By preparing the food over a low heat and allowing it to simmer slowly the nutritional value is maintained while developing an exciting fresh flavor.
Quality restaurants in Changsha offer a range of special dishes from different parts of Hunan. These restaurants usually have a luxury environment with excellent service than you would expect to find in the more ordinary food shops and this is reflected in the prices one has to pay. The most famous of these are the Golden Sun Restaurant (Jin Taiyang Jiujia) and West Lake Restaurant (Xihu Lou Jiujia).
Famous Dishes of Hunan Cuisine
Steamed Nesting Birds (San Ceng Tao Ji)
This name may seem a little strange and doesn't tell the story clearly. It was said that in 1920s, an official's wife had a stubborn headache and a doctor suggested that she buy a sparrow, a pigeon and a black-bone hen as ingredients for a Chinese herbal medicine soup. The doctor first put the small sparrow into the pigeon and then put the pigeon into the black-bone hen, hence the name Steamed Nesting Birds. Then the nesting of these three birds were steamed with herbs for a long time and the finished dish comprised both the soup and meat for eating. The story doesn't say whether the lady's headache was cured or not. However, the dish became popular in the country.
Crisp Sesame Duck (Maren Xiangsu Ya)
A duck is fried in peanut oil until its skin turns golden. Spicy seasonings and sesame oil are then added to the fried duck. The finished duck is cut into pieces and made into assorted cold dishes. It is crisp, tender and has a savory taste.
Non-Yolk Eggs with Mushroom (Huagu Wu Danhuang)
No one will be surprised by a plate of eggs with a mushroom soup. However, when you try it, you will find the tender eggs have no yolk inside and the delicious soup will melt in your mouth.
The chef makes a tiny hole in the bottom of the eggshells and removes the eggs. Then the egg white with a prepared chicken soup and salt are put back into the shells again and cooked. The most delicate of these will have a smooth cover and tender taste.
Spicy Chicken Cubes (Mala Ziji)
This is probably the most typical local dish. It was said that the one who hasn't eaten this dish equals is one who has never eaten Hunan Cuisine.
Simply stir-fry the chicken dices with pepper, capsicum, vinegar, shaohsing wine over high heat. The finished dish should have a bright color and spicy flavor. It is easy to describe, but very hard to cook. The best place to enjoy it is Yuloudong Restaurant.
Flavored Snack Food– Let's get hot
Huogongdian (Fire Palace) - featured snacks
In the central part of Pozi Jie Street, there is an eye-catching palace building, which was originally a temple where people offered oblation for a fire deity. Later, it becomes a gathering place for people and each year on the Fire Deity Day, they will hold sacrifice ceremony, temple fairs and other activities. Merchant traders, food stalls and shops which provide visitors with a variety of food constantly attend.
Today, the two-storied building has been decorated in a simple and antique style, in which are several snack shops and restaurants. It is the best place to sample the local snacks. Their most famous snacks include
Fried Stinky Tofu (Smelly Tofu)
Don't be scared away by the word 'stinky' in its name, although it does not smell very good and has an awkward appearance, it tastes quite pleasant. The outside is crisp with a little salty savor and the interior is tender. It was said that Chairman Mao Zedong tried this snack when he visited the city in 1958.
Sisters' Rice Balls
These are a kind of rice balls with fillings of meat or sugar. The meatballs have mushroom pieces, meat, and spring onions inside and are made into the shape of pomegranate while the sweet balls have the fillings of sugar, dates, meat and sweet-scented osmanthus and often resemble a peach. On the day of happy events, the two are presented in contrasting colors to create a happy atmosphere.
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Is it curry ?
But as I know, there are many South Asia Cuisine restaurants, such as Tiger Prawn Vietnamese Flavor Restaurant and Kaili Thai restaurant
Tiger Prawn Vietnamese Flavor Restaurant: Room 411, 4th Floor, Yuefang ID Shopping Mall, No.216, Pozi Street.
Kaili Thai restaurant: 4th Floor, Century Jinyuan Shopping Mall, No.199, Jintai Road, Kaifu District.
You can find authentic Southeast Asia dishes there. Hope you like.
If Chinese veg. food is fine for you, I happen to know a Su Wei Ping Sheng Resto. which is the Cultural Square, at the opposite of Kaifu Temple, Kaifu District.