Nanjing's superior geographical condition, abundant product resources and long food tradition have provided the advantageous conditions for its development of cooking techniques; and it has formed the typical local food characteristics of Nanjing in the course of long history. In recent years, Nanjing's food and beverage industry has both maintained its unique local food tradition Huaiyang cuisine and the Qinhuai flavor snacks and also made a rapid development of diversity foods. The Sichuan cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Shanghai cuisine and special dishes of other provinces and cities have settled in Nanjing, the foreign foods have also entered the Nanjing restaurant market one after another. There are upscale restaurants and hotels as well as various small restaurants with different cuisine styles being scattered throughout the whole city. Tourists can satisfy themselves by choice.
Nanjing cuisine is a branch of the Huai-yang cooking school, which is historically called Jing-Su cuisine, and the cooks then also regarded themselves as the“Jing-Su Bang”. Of the Chinese multitudinous cuisine schools, Jing-Su cuisine is the most famous for the careful selection of materials, many different ways of cooking, prominence of the main ingredient of each dish, attractiveness of colors, and different dishes in different seasons. The cooks are especially good at the cooking methods of simmering, stewing and fork roasting. Many dishes look hard in appearance but soft in essence. The broth is thick with pure fragrance; the meat looks fat but not greasy, dishes are not salty but very tasty, soft and boneless yet keeping the original shape; smooth, tender, crispy, having integrated all the best of the different cooking schools and the tastes fit for all the guests from different places.
In addition to serving the authentic "Jing-Su dishes"，the new and the time-honored restaurants have also made innovation of the Nanjing cuisine, striving to retain the original characteristics and to create new flavors. The famous classical dishes of Nanjing are: squirrel fish, egg Shaomai, Meiren Gan, phoenix tail shrimp, Nanjing hand-pulled noodles with beef of Ma Xiangxing Restaurant; pepper soaked chicken. Mingyue stewed with Shengqiao, chicken wings, and salty pigeon of Shiwangfu Restaurant; Jinling Yipinzhong and Jinling salted duck of Jinling hotel; clove spareribs, Jinpu Xianqun, and fried soft-shelled turtle with black pepper of Dingshan Hotel; green reed and abalone, Yuanbao wings contained in bamboo of the Grand Hotel; red lobster of the Xinghu Hotel; Jinling duck's tongue, and pig's trotters with black pepper of the Golden Eagle Restaurant; three slices vegetable long-tailed fish, mixed vegetable dish, and vegetable-stuffed steamed bun of Luliuju Restaurant; steamed buns stuffed with fragrant mushroom, and thin wrapper steamed buns of Liu Changxing Restaurant.
Nanjing is abundant in agricultural produce; the local raw materials can be cooked in many different ways. Nanjing's duck dishes are well-known throughout the country; the duck dishes were kept in the record in Southern Dynasty as early as 1,400 years ago; besides salted duck, there are pressed salted duck, Jinling roast duck, barbecued duck, Jinling sauced duck, fragrant crisp duck, pearl duck with eight precious ingredients, salted duck gizzard and so on; there are famous fresh water product dishes represented by the four famous fishes from the Yangtze River; and the dishes made from the local ingredients are very famous: from "eight water fresh materials": (fish, lotus root, water celery, Lianpeng, Jiaobai, arrowhead. water chestnut and Jitouguo) and from "eight land fresh materials": (Luhao, jiaoer vegetable, pea leaves, Jicai, Chinese wolfberrv tender leaves, Chinese small iris, Juhuanao and alfalfa)