Changsha is the capital city of Hunan, in south-central China, located on the lower reaches of Xiang River, a branch of the Yangtze River. Its municipality covers an area of 11,819 square kilometres (4,563 sq mi) and, according to the 2010 Census, a population of 7,044,118 inhabitants. And this large population has created their own flavor throughout the long history. Xiang Cuisine, with a unique flavor and an integral style of its own, is one of eight greatest cuisines in China. Among more than 4,000 Changsha style cooked foods, more than 300 are well-known. Those old stores, hidden in the forest of the city for a hundred years, is just like the crusted vintage wine, which makes people inebriated.
One of the oldest restaurants in Changsha. If you are able to meet up with a local friend for only in a day or two there is a good chance your Changsha friend will take you to this traditionally designed restaurant. Set up in the Qianlong years of Qing Dynasty, Fire Palace has a history of more than 250 years. At the very beginning, Fire Palace is just a temple to offer sacrifices to the fire god. It develops into a busy downtown area to offer sacrifices to, enjoy the play, listen to storytelling, enjoy the artwork, and have a snack. Nowadays, elegant appearance of Fire Palace is as of old, but customers are new every day.
The classic delicacies and typical local flavor of Fire Palace are like a feast for the eyes, too various and numerous to list. But the most popular one is stinky tofu.
Unlike cheese, stinky tofu fermentation does not have a fixed formula for starter bacteria; wide regional and individual variations exist in manufacture and preparation. The stinky tofu in the Fire Palace Restaurant is an “official representative” of the stinky tofu in Changsha. It smells bad, but once you close your eys and take a bite, the flavor will conquer however picky stomach.
If you do not come in person, you will never know that you taste the folk culture of Changsha and the delicacies at the same time.
Nanmenkou& Xiahejie – Spicy Shrimps
If the Fried Stinky tofu of Fire Palace with a 250 year old history tells of the city's past, Kou Wei Xia (Stir-fry Spicy Shrimp) another popular choice near the area of Nanmenkou and Xiahejie is a present day story.
The thing that earns the street its reputation is Kou Wei Xia (Stir-fry Spicy Shrimp), another popular market food for Changsha people. The shrimps are lightly boiled in hot water until they turn red. They are then sautéed in cooking oil, with hot chili, ginger, peppers, salt and garlic sauce, shallots and preserved bean curd for just twenty seconds when cooking wine and some water are added. The shrimps are then cooked for a further ten minutes to give them a spicy flavor. The resultant dish is spicy and hot, which is earns it a three peppers indicator on the menu which means it is the hottest. That's Changsha people's favorite! The king of the street is the Sixijie Restaurant on this dining street.
Each evening, an array of food stalls and shops near the area of Nanmenkou appear with bowls of bright color shrimps and none can resist the temptation! The crowed market will last late into the night until about three or even four o'clock.
Wulipai – Steamed Dishes
Steam your way to healthy eating with one of our members' favorite recipes for steamed veggies, chicken, fish and more. Wulipai Street near the Changsha Railway Station is a good place to find homely dishes at reasonable prices. Jianjun Restaurant on this street is the king of steamed dishes. Here a variety of ingredients ranging from taro to fish, assorted meats and vegetables are steamed in earthen bowls.
Two or three bowls of these dishes and rice can feed two couples well.
Yuloudong - Spicy Chicken Cubes
It is this restaurant that brought the famous Spicy Chicken Cubes into the life of Changshas people and visitors throng to sample this typical dish.
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.