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Similar tastes shared on both sides of Strait

By ZHANG YI and SHI XUEFAN in Xiamen, Fujian | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-26 10:03
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Cuisine and popular snacks from the Chinese mainland have become increasingly popular in Taiwan in recent years, which analysts attribute to similar taste preferences among Chinese on both sides of the Strait and the influence of the internet.

The latest dish to win over the taste buds of those on the other side of the Strait is suancaiyu, a spicy sour fish dish originating from Chongqing, which is also popular in many mainland cities.

According to recent Taiwan media reports, restaurants selling the cooked fish with pickled cabbage and chili have been popping up with greater frequency, and customers have waited for hours to get a table.

A key factor for the popularity is the simplified preparation that caters to modern lifestyles, particularly the demand for quick and convenient dining options after work, according to a report published by Taiwan's United Daily News.

The surge in popularity of the fish recipe in Taiwan was also attributed to the influence of social media, where online opinion leaders share their experiences tasting the dish, the article said.

Wu Yi-han, chairwoman of the founding committee of the Cross-Strait Youth Exchange Association in Taiwan, said young people in Taiwan learn about trendy food from their compatriots on the mainland through social media platforms.

"When they get the chance to visit the mainland, they try and buy a lot," she said, adding that young people from both sides are the same generation and they have similar interests.

Huang Guoyuan runs a store selling mainland specialties at the Wutong Ferry Terminal in Xiamen, Fujian, where passengers can catch the 30-minute ferry between Xiamen and Kinmen, an island administered by Taiwan.

Huang said the bestsellers among passengers from Taiwan are luosifen, or snail rice noodles famous for their pungent smell and taste, and konjac strips, a spicy snack popular among teenagers.

A young Kinmen resident surnamed Wang said he enjoys taking weekend trips with his friends by ferry to go to Xiamen to try popular mainland food they've seen on social media.

"We often eat dishes like spicy bullfrog and fish in chili oil," he said. "When returning to Kinmen, we buy popular mainland delicacies like snail rice noodles because they are cheaper here."

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said that in the past popular Taiwan snacks such as boba milk tea and braised pork rice have gained popularity on the mainland, and now mainland dishes are creating waves in Taiwan.

"This fully demonstrates that both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same customs and culture, as well as a similar taste in food," she said.

Zhu expressed a warm welcome for more Taiwan compatriots to visit the mainland, explore and taste local cuisines.

In January, Taiwan authorities ordered snail rice noodle products to be pulled from both offline and online shops on the island, and warned that companies found breaking the order would be dealt with according to the law. Many netizens in Taiwan felt the move was an overreaction, and some said it made them more interested in trying the noodles.

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