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Is Chinese food 中華料理 or 中国料理?

Is Chinese food 中華料理 or 中国料理?
chuuka_ryouri or chuugoku_ryouri?

chuuka_ryouri or chuugoku_ryouri?

Have you had an experience that you went to a Chinese restaurant in Japan and the food was totally different from what you had expected? My family always experienced that in Japan when we went out with my Japanese family and friends, although they also have had very authentic Chinese food in Japan. So where does this difference come from?

Before I talk more about food, I need to talk about the name “China” in Japanese first. Its official name is 人民共和国(ちゅうじんみんきょうわこく/chuuka_jinmin_kyouwakoku) and we usually shorten it as 中国(ちゅうく/chuugoku).

Related to these names, there are two words for “Chinese cuisine” in Japanese, 中料理(ちゅうりょうり/chuuka_ryouri) and 中料理(ちゅうごくりょうり/chuugoku_ryouri), and they are very different.
The more common Chinese eateries in Japan serve 中料理(ちゅうりょうり/chuuka_ryouri), which is a localised version of Chinese cooking – localised for the Japanese taste – rather than the authentic Chinese cuisine. These eateries are usually run by Japanese people or by Chinese people who have been living in Japan for generations.
If you want to eat authentic Chinese food, you need to find a 中料理(ちゅうごくりょうり/chuugoku_ryouri)restaurant instead. Some 中料理 (ちゅうごくりょうり/chuugoku_ryouri)restaurants specialise in one of 山東料理(さんとんりょうり – Shandong cuisine)、四川料理(しせんりょうり – Szechuan cuisine)、広東料理(かんとんりょうり – Cantonese cuisine) or 江蘇料理(こうそりょうり – Jiangsu cuisine) but either way, they are usually run by newcomers from China to Japan and serve much more authentic Chinese dishes. 中料理(ちゅうごくりょうり/chuugoku_ryouri) restaurants are usually more expensive and less common than 中料理 (ちゅうりょうり/chuuka_ryouri) eateries.
So if you want to have Chinese food because you are a bit tired of Japanese food, then remember to go to a 料理(ちゅうごくりょうり/chuugoku_ryouri) restaurant rather than a 料理(ちゅうりょうり/chuuka_ryouri) place nearby.
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