||Chinese cuisine is rightly famous and very varied. Dishes from neighboring provinces can be as different as if they came from two different countries. On the whole however expect food that is not only tasty, but well balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The Chinese believe that food should be experienced through all the senses, not just taste, so dishes often come in beautiful arrangements.
If you eat out do not be surprised if rice does not automatically come with every dish, as it seems to do in Chinese Restaurants in the West. In China it is considered important to give the guest the best you have, which means a lot of meat dishes. Rice, noodles or dumplings can always be ordered separately though, to fill up the meal if you need those carbs.
Vegetarian meals are catered for in Wushu schools, but in outside restaurants it may be more difficult to negotiate a purely vegetarian meal. This again has to do with the perception that serving a guest vegetables, as opposed to meat, is somehow not showing hospitality. However, after some explanation plenty of tasty vegetable dishes can be ordered, after all, many Buddhists and Daoists in China do not eat meat, so its not unknown.
Note that if you are treated to dinner by a local it is considered impolite to refuse any dish you are offered, so put a brave face on and tuck into those battered mice!
There is normally no reason to worry about catching a tummy bug as long as you eat in proper restaurants. Trying hawker cuisine out in the street markets maybe more exciting, but is also riskier.
As far as drinks are concerned, it is normally tea, beer or stronger spirits, called collectively Baijiu, although there are plenty of different types. Soft drinks are also readily available.
Toasting with Baijiu or bear is a complicated art, to put it mildly. Rules tend to vary from province to province, but here are a few general hints: its almost impossible not to drink if you are toasted, there are few exceptions to this, but you can try… Try to follow the example of the person toasting you, if they drink a full glass, you have to also. If they drink only a little, then so should you.
Drink bottled or boiled water, not water from the tap. If you are a coffee or choco-holic it is best to bring your own supply, as these two staples of Western diet are not always easy to find.
Finally, it is recommended that any traveler hones their chopstick skills before their trip, as knives and forks are a rarity in restaurants!