Chinese food follows the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which uses food as a way to treat disease, recover from injury and improve overall general wellbeing. There are five flavors that form the basis of dishes, of which taste is considered the most important factor and the soul of the food. These are: salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. The most dominant flavor you taste in a dish depends on the region you are in, therefore each plate can reveal to you an area´s geography, history and geography.
Spice expels wind and cold from the body. It is popular in Central and Southern China. notably Hunan and Sichuan cuisine.
Salty food should be eaten sparingly and is for dissolving ¨stagnation¨. This food is popular in the North of China, because there is a lack of fresh vegetables in winter so food is preserved using salt.
Sweet flavors can improve your mood and health while also cutting through the greasiness of some dishes. Dishes that are predominately sweet originate from the East of China.
The sour taste is popular in the South, and is a very important part of TCM. It helps with digestion, quenches thirst and can also reduce a dish´s greasiness or fish flavor. Sour foods are common in the South where people are generally poor, and who pickle most of their foods to avoid wastage.
Bitterness is a component in many dishes alongside other flavors. It is used to make dishes seem fresher and to satiate your appetite.
The North of China produces a lot of wheat, and so the people eat things like dumplings, wheat noodles and steamed or stuffed buns. In the South they rarely eat wheat and instead rely upon rice products, of which they use in every meal.
The quantity of fruit and vegetables eaten in China is double that of the Western diet, and they use dozens of varieties that are unknown outside of China, including many types of weed-like plants that have not been translated into English. Food is eaten seasonally, in order to balance one´s yin, yang, dryness or dampness (TCM components). Bones are an important element of dishes, so fish is usually not served filleted, while the appearance of a dish is often symbolic, using shapes, colors and textures to represent traditions, holidays and superstitions.
Traditionally, food is served to be shared, placed in the middle of the table, which in restaurants is usually a turntable to promote the communal nature of eating.
Enter Foodlays, a large restaurant located near to La Vega in Santiago.
In my opinion, the food at I Ching in Independencia had bigger portions and nicer food but a few dishes really stood out, particularly the Spicy Eggplant plate as well as most of the noodle dishes.
The Nitty Gritty:
Disabled/pushchair access in lifts
Customer carparking (ask the guard at the entrance)
Outdoor patio, which we used as a kids playground when we were there (we didn´t see any smokers)
Most vegetable dishes options contain meat so ask before you order if you are vegetarian.
Address: Los Artesanos 681, 3rd floor, Recoleta. Metro Patronato or Cal y Canto.
Note: A glance at the Facebook page for this restaurant shows a few bad reviews due to the presence of shark fin soup. I did not see this option on the menu when I was there. This post has not been sponsored.
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