Love spicy food? Sichuan is the province to beat in China for fiery fare. The region’s ideal geographical features make it a perfect site for foraging and growing great produce, and UNESCO recognized the the city as a “City of Gastronomy” in 2010 – the first Asian city it bestowed the honor on, in part thanks to its history as a the start of the southern Silk Road route, where it served as China’s entry point to exotic vegetables and spices from Central and Western Asia. Here are some of UnTour Shanghai guide Mitch’s favorite restaurants when he heads out to Chengdu:
Mushroom Restaurant in Chengdu:
Restaurant that specializes in all mushroom dishes. Some amazing offerings but my favorite two are: Mushroom buns 菌包 & Mushroom soup 菌类汤
JiuPin FengShan ZhenBao Restaurant 九品风山珍宝酒楼
Ke Hua Middle Road New 11, Chengdu, China
Most Authentic/Delicious Tibetan Restaurant We’ve Ever Been To:
Lots of monks eat here; on the third floor across from Holly’s Hostel. We really liked: Sweet Mare’s Milk Tea, Yogurt, Yak meat pot, Potato dumplings, Jiaozi and the little highland tubers in sour yak butter (cannot remember what they’re called o_O).
Langqin Pozhang (former Elephant)
246 Wuhouci Da Jie No. 15, Chengdu
Phone: (028) 13228118833
Chen Mapo Doufu – the classic spicy Sichuanese tofu & pork dish
197 Xi Yu Long St | West Jade Dragon St, Chengdu 610015, China
Fine Chinese Dining
Also for a more up-scale tasting by one of the best chefs in Chengdu, check out Yu’s Family Kitchen.
And here are a couple recommendations for specific dishes native to the region:
You must eat Dandan Mian (担担面). This is a snack-sized bowl of noodles that people eat all day, with peanut sauce, chili oil. A good place to eat it is at Xiaoming Tang Dandan Tianshui Mian (小名堂担担甜水面) which has a few branches around town. To numb the spiciness, also get a jbowl of the sugar noodles (tianshuimian, 甜水面) which is another specialty they do.
Little wontons in spicy chili oil called Chaoshou (抄手) is another classic. You can get them in a lot of places, but one place I used to go was a small place called Laoma Chaoshou (老麻抄手)
Another specialty is skewers of food served in chili and numbing spice bowls called Chuanchuan Xiang (串串香) which literally translates to fragrant skewers. This is more of a nighttime thing to eat, you can try them at Kangerjie Chuanchuanxiang (康二姐串串香) which is located on the Middle Walking Street (中大街) but you’ll see places around the city.
Something else that you must do if settle in at one of the teahouses by the lake in peoples park (人民公园) or in the Donghu Garden (东湖公园）if the weather is nice. Drinking tea and people watching is a classic Chengdu Activity.
You can also check out this interview we did with Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia fame – she loves devouring her way through Chengdu.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Sichuan cuisine, but aren’t heading that far west on this trip, hop on our Night Markets tour where we finish at a local Sichuan restaurant for a few fiery dishes.