When traditional Chinese food meets with French style

I’ve always been passion about food ever since I was a little kid. Luckily I was born in a country, which is known for its variety of food, China. My happy life with great food last until I was 19, in which year I left my hometown and came to the Netherlands for study. That was when my nightmare began. The food in the Netherlands was nothing the same as Chinese food. Smashed potatoes, deep-fried meet balls, they did not agree with me. I was thousand miles away from home in a totally different culture; a nice Chinese meal would make me feel closer to home. So I started searching for Chinese restaurant.

After a short time, I found out that, most of the Chinese restaurant in the Netherlands serves Cantonese cuisine in a very traditional way. Big round tables, chopsticks, food serve in big plates with large proportions, which everybody on the table can eat from. This is not an easy way for the Dutch to eat. They are used to have their own individual plates and use folks and knives. This traditional way of dining may interest them for once or twice, but finally the Dutch would find it very exhausting and complicated to just eat something. Although most of the restaurants provide decent Cantonese food, few of them have really low quality. Furthermore, the dishes are a bit over-priced based on their quality from a native Chinese perspective. After all, the dishes are not as original as the local dishes in China.

Another problem I found was that, the Chinese restaurants here in the Netherlands are mostly limited to Cantonese cuisine, while there are way more other types of cuisines in China. Therefore when talking about Chinese food, the first thing comes to Dutch people’s mind is the “Babi pangang”, which is a typical Cantonese dish, but not the first to come into mind for Chinese people when talking about Chinese food. So I kept trying new types restaurants offering distinctive food. In the meanwhile, I found myself gradually grow into the French style of meals. With appetizer, main course, side dish, dessert and so on, each course fulfills different needs of the customers. And more importantly, the Dutch people seem to prefer this kind of style when choosing to have a proper formal meal. So I thought, what if a restaurant could combine traditional Chinese dishes with French meal styles, wouldn’t it be wonderful? And with big surprise, I finally found this special Chinese restaurant named “Chang-i”.

Chang-i is a Chinese restaurant located in Amsterdam. Unlike the other often seen Chinese restaurant, Chang-i aims to offer its customer with high quality original Chinese dishes in a French style. It categorizes its dishes into appetizer, main course, side dish and dessert, for each course, the customer can choose one or more from the category. Putting the dishes into categories actually saves a lot of trouble for the customers, especially for those who are not familiar with Chinese food and could not tell the difference of them just from their names. When the dishes are served, the food is not just simply placed in a big plate. For each customer there is a small elegant plate contain the well-cooked food with exquisite decorations on the side. Both chopsticks and folks and knives are provided at the same time, customers could choose based on their preference.

Although the food is served in a French style, the taste is still very original Chinese flavor. The chefs in Chang-i are all professionally trained chefs who obtain certifications on Chinese cuisines. The owner claims that the chefs all have at least five years experiences in the field. The quality of the food is assured. Most importantly, Chang-i provides way more than just Cantonese food, which is generally considered as the only Chinese food in most Dutch people’s opinion. There are four major cuisines in China, the Cantonese cuisine, the Shandong cuisine, the Sichuan cuisine and the Jiangsu cuisine. Each of them put different emphasis on smell, taste, color and style. Chang-i manages to offer as more types as possible of different cuisines. It aims to change people’s stereotype of Chinese food being only Cantonese cuisine.

Finally, the decoration of the restaurant is also a combination of Chinese culture and Western culture. The main tone is in red, which is a very traditional Chinese color, decorated with modern paintings and furniture. It gives the Dutch customer a feeling of exotic but along with some familiarities in order to put them in a confortable environment.

Although the price of Chang-i is a bit more expensive compare to other Chinese restaurants, it is worth the money. Now Chang-i is the number one Chinese restaurant in the Netherlands in my perspective, a native Chinese perspective.

 

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