Yangzhou is located in central Jiangsu Province, China on the north bank of the Yangtze, river. Historically, Yangzhou was one of the wealthiest cities in China, known at various periods for its great merchant families, poets, artists, and scholars. In the late 13th century the city was home to Marco Polo. Its name, "Rising Prefecture", refers to its former position as the capital of the ancient Yangzhou prefecture in imperial China.
Yangzhou has a history of over 2,500 years and developed as a key trading center for salt, rice and silk. This once major economic hub is now known for its beautiful gardens, Islamic relics and ancient shrines. Two of its most famous attractions include the Daming Temple, a Buddhist complex named for the Daming reign when it was built, and the Slender West Lake which is framed by picturesque moon gates and classical bridges.
With its long history and rich cultural background, Yangzhou is one of the top tourism destinations in China. The city boasts over 340 historic sites and relics. The city features uniquely beautiful sceneries of rivers and a number of gardens and buildings as well as the well-preserved ancient city area of the Ming and the Qing Dynasties. The Geyuan Garden, one of the most famous gardens in the country, is over one thousand years old.
The native cooking style in Yangzhou is Huaiyang cuisine. Huaiyang cuisine is widely seen in Chinese culinary circles as the most popular and prestigious style of Jiangsu cuisine. It is considered by many to be amongst one of the Four Great Traditions that dominate the culinary heritage of China, along with Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine and Sichuan cuisine.
Huaiyang characteristically founds each dish on its main ingredient, and the way that ingredient is cut is pivotal to its cooking and its final taste. The cuisine is also known for employing its Zhenjiang vinegar, which is produced in the Jiangsu region. Huaiyang cuisine tends to have a slightly sweet side to it and is almost never spicy, in contrast to some cuisines of China (like Sichuan or Hunan). Pork, freshwater fish, and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light compared to the more "brash" eating styles of northern China.
The city is the birthplace of Yangzhou fried rice or Yeung Chow fried rice. This popular Chinese-style wok fried rice dish is served in Chinese restaurants throughout the world.