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Menu of success ensures a taste of culture

Huaiyang cuisine's subtle but elegant style is a diplomatic triumph, Li Yingxue reports.

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-19 05:48
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The Beijing restaurant's steamed yellow croaker stands out as one of diners' favorites. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Known for its elegance, Huaiyang cuisine (from Huai'an and Yangzhou of Jiangsu province) is capable of meticulously transforming a seemingly modest cube of tofu into a culinary masterpiece that resembles a delicate chrysanthemum flower through 100 precise cuts made in two directions.

Chrysanthemum tofu soup showcases the cutting skills required for Huaiyang cuisine. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The artful creation, known as chrysanthemum tofu soup, combines the subtle textures of tofu with the rich flavors of matsutake mushrooms and pigeon eggs, all swimming in a clear chicken soup. It's a dish that not only pleases the palate but is also a showcase of the zenith of Chinese knife skills and culinary traditions.

It was this very dish that captivated Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his team during a recent memorable lunch in Beijing.

Their culinary experience took place at the Shichahai branch of Huaiyangfu, a Huaiyang cuisine restaurant chain. In late March, amid the diplomatic itineraries, it was the simple elegance of chrysanthemum tofu soup that left a lasting impression, and also highlighted the cultural resonance that food can convey.

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