Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lick Your Lips and Let's Really Start to Explore China; JIMMY TSANG on the Changes in Chinese Cuisine in Newcastle - and What We Can Look Forward To

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lick Your Lips and Let's Really Start to Explore China; JIMMY TSANG on the Changes in Chinese Cuisine in Newcastle - and What We Can Look Forward To

Article excerpt

Byline: JIMMY TSANG

THE Chinese community has grown dramatically in New castle over the past 10 to 20 years. When I first came to the UK over 41 years ago the city had a rela tively small Chinese community, with only a few restaurants, and Chi natown did not even exist. How times have changed.

There is now reported to be over 30,000 Chinese living in Newcastle, excluding the growing student popu lation who are not counted in the census - a staggering increase in numbers and a major factor in the changes to Chinese cuisine that peo ple will have experienced, whether they've eaten out or ordered take away.

Historically, the majority of Chi nese people who came to the UK in the '70s or earlier came from Hong Kong - not mainland China. Due to the political situation and the con straints and restrictions placed on international travel, people didn't travel. As a consequence, Chinese food in the UK was mainly Canton ese.

Cantonese food dominated for decades, and the majority of restau rants that opened had Cantonese chefs producing classic Cantonese dishes, which are relatively mild and use limited spices. Fast forward 20 or so years and the culinary map has changed beyond all recognition.

With the growth of international travel both from the UK and around the Far East, people's palettes have changed along with their horizons and wider exposure to regional dish es and delicacies.

China is a huge country and the geographical boundaries within its borders are marked by culinary dif ferences between provinces - the growth of travel both within China and internationally has led to the changing face of Chinese food around the world, and certainly here in Newcastle.

Different ingredients, dishes and cooking styles are now in demand from a range of different Chinese provinces, and my company, work ing with large international suppli ers, has stepped up to cater for this demand.

Different provinces have distinct signature dishes, styles and spices - many of them now represented in restaurants on the UK high street.

Supply and demand has changed the face of Chinese cuisine in this country, and this change is very evident in Newcastle. While there are still a lot of Cantonese restaurants, a whole host of new restaurants have opened to cater for changing tastes and the growing number of Chinese from all over the huge country all wanting a taste of home.

Like other culinary fields, trends have started to emerge in Chinese food - in Newcastle, as in other UK cities, we are experiencing a growth in "hot pot" restaurants - where food is cooked at the table in either hot oil, or in a soupstyle base. This is an extremely popular style of dining in China - on a recent visit I dined at one huge hot pot restau rant that was over 20,000sqft in size crammed full of diners with hun dreds of people waiting to be seated. …

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