HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
What have you made lately?
TELL US

Chengdu Recs

a
andyk Jul 27, 2006 01:33 PM

I am a Chicago chowhound traveling to China in August. We will find ourselves in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Chengdu (Leshan, Emei City as well) I have seen a reasonable amount of recs for HK and BJ but not Chengdu. Where do you recommend? I am looking for amazing hot pot (including the meat to order...), as well as any other amazing restaurant that comes to mind.

If you are from China and need help in Chicago, I will certainly trade information. :)

Thanks,
Andy

  1. k
    karenitasf Jan 14, 2008 08:32 PM

    I just got back to Chengdu and LOVED the food. It's amazing to me how hardly anyone mentions the awesome street food! It was the BEST. I used some recs from people there, other sites, this site, etc. but often found that places were hard to find if you didn't have concrete information. I felt compelled to do 2 much lengthier blog posts on Chengdu food, with street names and directions and tips and such- in hopes it will help others navigate more easily!

    http://offthemeathook.com/2008/01/02/chengdu-is-for-lovers-of-food.aspx
    http://offthemeathook.com/2008/01/10/...

    8 Replies
    1. re: karenitasf
      mbe Jan 24, 2008 01:07 AM

      Was in Chengdu this past summer and I agree with Karen that the street food and snacks are amazing. Stayed at the Tibet Hotel which had a nice little street market about a block behind the hotel with all the requisite breakfast snacks (baozi with different fillings, soya milk, deep fried dough in various guises.). The small restaurants on the smaller street beside the hotel (not the major street) were quite good as well. We're not to big into the hotpot.
      Also went to the Yu Jia Chu Fang restaurant described in Fuchsia Dunlop's FT article. Absolutely bloody amazing, best 300rmb I've ever spent (apart perhaps from the two bed warmers I just bought, believe me they are spectacular). We went at 8pm and were literally rushed through our 15 courses so if you go, aim for 6-7pm. More reasonable by local standards. They were able to accommodate a last minute allergy problem and although the english was faltering the service was superb. Our favourite dish of the night was probably the Tibetan pork belly stewed with ginseng, suckers for the pork fat us, but in general the meal was really unique; high end Chinese but somewhat informed by western fine dining, a very remarkable experience. And no birds nest/Shark fin either which I worried about when reserving.
      Also, if you climb Qing Cheng Shan make sure to try the snacks, especially the fried potatoes, once you reach the top... well deserved treats.

      1. re: karenitasf
        s
        Simon Mar 30, 2008 09:29 AM

        odd...i've been here in Chengdu for 48 hours so far, and i've walked all over the city, and so far i've had only very mediocre (at best) meals...very disappointing but hopefully will improve as i continue to explore...

        1. re: Simon
          erica Apr 10, 2008 01:38 PM

          Simon please keep us posted!

          For anyone else interested in the cooking of Chengdu and Sichuan, Fuschia Dunlop has a new book that will certainly whet your appetites:

          http://www.amazon.com/Sharks-Fin-Sich...

          1. re: erica
            s
            Simon Apr 10, 2008 08:35 PM

            things improved a bit...

            -- the best meal i had in Chengdu was a catfish, pan-roasted with chilis, peppercorns, ginger, and potatoes...this was a randomly chosen late-night meal at a place called Green Heart Bamboo BBQ, and is on the ground floor of the same plaza that holds Cafe Paname (a nice friendly bar to get a glass of wine: on Kehua Bei Lu)

            -- the food at Veranda was decent: excellent mapo tofu, some too-sweet-for-my-taste shrimp, ok dan-dan noodles, etc...the view is nice, as the restaurant is on top of an old bridge...

            -- another good meal was at nice place near the monastery...not one of the several vegetarian places, but a slightly upscale place on the same walking street...had a dish i've never encountered before: round black mushrooms and some kind of cubed green stalk veggie and little bits of well-done meat (animal unclear: there was something that looked like chicken skin in it, but it tasted more like pork: really no clue, but it was very tasty! -- perhaps it was a mix of some chicken feet and some chopped up pork ribs) served fairly dry in a little cast-iron pot w/ a soy sauce base...no idea the name of the restaurant, but it's near the end of the walking street adjacent to the monastery, on the left if you are walking away from the monastery area: sort of a grand entrance, stone floors, lots of carved wood...

            -- my one hotpot outing there was interrupted when a drunken man started a brawl, careening into pots of boiling oil...the place cleared out fast!...actually very amusing...

            1. re: Simon
              erica Apr 11, 2008 11:32 AM

              So far it does not sound as if Chengdu would be a great base for eating and relaxing....did you find any charm in the city at all, or has the old part been totally demolished?

              Any sense of what it would be like for a non-Chinese speaker to navigate the interesting eating places? The restaurants?

              Many thanks, Simon.

              1. re: erica
                s
                Simon Apr 12, 2008 04:22 AM

                there are some pretty parks, where you can have tea and peoplewatch...and i like the rivers (spooky to walk by late at night), and a few stray blocks of the old streets remain (though they have been tarted up tourist style and thus aren't as charming as they might be)...and Bookworm, Cafe Paname and a couple other places are comfy enough spots to read and drink wine as a retreat from the pollution...

                but yes, most of the city is grey and drab, w/ a naggin burnt-plastic chemical smell ever-present in the air...

                But, many chowhounds seem to have had better food experiences than i did, and i didn't try the two or three places reputed to have luminary chefs w/ multi-course meals, so maybe i missed out...i think most tourists stay only a couple days, using it as base to go to LeShan or the other national parks and mountain areas that are 1 to 4 hours away...i didn't tour the countryside, but rather i stayed in the city for ten days, which is a weird atypical thing to do in Chengdu, but that's what i do: i go to cities, even ones without a multitude of clear attractions, and sort of move-in for a little while and see what it feels like living there (if i don't like it, i leave quick; if i love it, i live there for months)...

                Compared to Shanghai and Beijing, it's much harder to order as a non-Chinese speaker in Chengdu...almost no local restaurants have English menus...some have pictures though, but not for all the dishes...but, the wander-the-restaurant-and-point-to-dishes-that-look-good method works ok, as long as you don't mind all the grins and stares you get in the process...

                Glad i went...didn't hate it...didn't love it...

                1. re: erica
                  pepper_mil Apr 12, 2008 06:45 PM

                  I live in CD, had a visitor for a month and within that time did not have enough chance to get to all of the places we wanted to go and eat all the things we wanted to eat. (The air quality is pretty bad, but certainly not worse on average than places like Beijing or Xian.) If someone poses specific questions about what they are interested in it's much easier to help.

                  for future discussions, can we please start a new thread on the place? The information on this one is very, very outdated.

                  1. re: pepper_mil
                    s
                    Simon Apr 12, 2008 08:00 PM

                    Start a new thread and tell us your Top Ten in Chengdu!

        2. designerboy01 May 27, 2007 07:40 PM

          I just got back from Chendu yesterday. I was taken by a guide and had a medicinal Chinese banquet. Sorry, I don't have the name or adress but its down the main road from Jinlin Street. It was pretty interesting. Recognized most of the herbs but some I did not. I had a Dang Gui (Angelica in Latin) soup. I thought only women ate that herb but apparently its OK for men as I was told.

          Seems like duck heads are a popular street snack. Go for the brain.

          I had a vegetarian meal at Emishan. The only thing new to me was fermented Gluten that was frozen on the top of Emishan. It had a beehive consistency like beehive tofu, but it was something close to eating pork fat.

          1. James G Jul 29, 2006 03:57 PM

            In Chengdu you have a lot of great options. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible for me to remember all the places, but there is a very famous place for dumplings (called, I think, Long Chao Shou--龙抄手) that is not to be missed. There are a couple of locations: Chunxi Road Branch: No. 8, South Section of Chunxi Road, Jinjiang District; Huanhua Branch: No. 9-3, Huahua North Road, Qingyang District; Zhixin Branch: No. 1-14, Zhixin North Street, Wuhou District.

            Also great are the crab hotpot places, which I have not seen elsewhere in China. They tend to be of the 'crummy but good' category, and there is a district in Chengdu where they seem to propagate, though of course I cannot remember where that is. One that I do remember is called "Guangtou Spicy Crab Hotpot" and should be worth a visit.

            If you go to Leshan, the thing I remember most about the food there is the amazing proliferation of tofu specialist restaurants. I don't recall what it is that is so special about Leshan's tofu, but Xiba tofu is apparently a Big Deal, and there was a whole area along the riverfront with nothing but restaurants selling it. Definitely eat at one--you won't regret it!

            1. Mrs Fang Jul 28, 2006 04:28 PM

              Oh, man, am I envious! I loved Chengdu and there is excellent food to be found. Of course, I never wrote down the names of the places we ate in; mostly walked around town and stopped in the bustling places. I love mapo doufu and had several good versions. Also very fond of "water-boiled" fish (definitely no water in that dish---yow!). We were there in 2003, so I'm not sure how much it's changed.

              We stayed at the Jin Jiang hotel which has a nice upscale restaurant (their fried pigeon sticks in my mind as very good). They also had a really good buffet breakfast, which is probably a good bargain, with several dishes that I hadn't seen elsewhere in China. The stinkiest of stinky tofu completely took me by surprise at that buffet.

              You must go to Wenshu Monastery and sit in the tea area for a nice afternoon of people watching.

              We had a nice hot pot (very medicinal) in the town below E'mei Shan. Again, I don't remember the name. We were there in April and it was quite cool; I don't know how much you'll feel like hot pot in the summer. Once you get into the temple, you can have lunch with the monks. Vegetarian, of course. It's so beautiful there... ah, to have more time and money.

              We stayed in Leshan for a night, only long enough to take the boat to see the Buddha, and we were out of there the next morning. My recollection is that the town has nothing to offer culturally; seemed kind of dumpy.

              If you have time, hire a driver to take you to Dazu to look at the stone carvings. It's off the beaten track (but so is E'mei Shan) but not too far from Leshan, on the way to Chongqing. Not sure if you would be able to manage using public trans. Totally worth the effort.

              Have a wonderful and safe trip!
              Christine

              1. a
                andyk Jul 28, 2006 12:27 PM

                Gary,

                Your pictures and web links are amazing! Is there anyway I can see the rest of the Chengdu related links - Emei Shan, Leshan, and Chengdu from the Wrapped in Dough site? It was really exciting to read that. If you want to contact me directly please email akniaz@gmail.com.

                Thanks!
                Andy

                1 Reply
                1. re: andyk
                  Gary Soup Jul 28, 2006 04:03 PM

                  I'll try and get more relevant pages up tonight (I'd forgotten you are going to Emei and LeShan too). I'll add a cover page and a link from the eatingchinese.org mainpage. I'll email you too, if I remember so we don't clutter up this board.

                  My email address is in my chowhound profile.

                2. Gary Soup Jul 28, 2006 05:28 AM

                  Here's a couple of preview links to a work in progress on my own web site. A blogger friend Astrid let her excellent blog "Wrapped in Dough" expire because she's too busy in law school. I rescued all of the pages of her reports from a 7-month stay in China and am planning to package them on my website. I put a couple of Chengdu-related ones up tonight as a test; they're not even linked to the main page, and the form may change, but all the good stuff is here:

                  http://www.eatingchinese.org/WID72/WID.htm
                  http://www.eatingchinese.org/WID74/WI...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gary Soup
                    designerboy01 May 27, 2007 07:46 PM

                    Those sugar shaped sticks are for kids. I always think that wheel the kids spin is fixed so it never falls on the dragon.

                  2. Gary Soup Jul 27, 2006 04:45 PM

                    Muztagh Travel has a couple of suggestions for Chengdu Hot Pot restaurants. Muztagh specializes in Western China and is oriented more toward adventurous backpackers than casual tourists, so I would tend to put some credence in their reccos.

                    http://www.muztagh.com/chinese-restaurant/chengdu.htm

                    Chengdu is probably less known for hot pot than Chongqing, but I'm sure they are probably no slouch when it come to that. If anything, Chengdu is known for a very wide variety of tasty "street" foods. Fuschsia Dunlop had an award-winning piece on the snack foods of Sichuan (mostly Chengdu) in Saveur, March 2005 issue. Unfortunately it's not online.

                    To whet your appetite, here's an uncommented gallery of Sichuan foods from my own website:

                    http://eatingchinese.org/galleries/si...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Gary Soup
                      Brian S May 23, 2007 08:42 AM

                      The Saveur article is not online, but Fuchsia Dunlop lived in Sichuan for several years and has written a lot of stuff. Here's a piece she wrote reviewing three incredible restaurants in Chengdu, with bios of their chefs..

                      http://www.diaryofafoodie.org/episode...

                      1. re: Brian S
                        Gary Soup May 23, 2007 11:03 PM

                        Here's another article by FD about Yu Bo, including the tasting menu at his restaurant.

                        http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9ef6bc42-3f18...

                        1. re: Gary Soup
                          Brian S May 24, 2007 09:14 AM

                          Incredible. Especially to me. The last time I visited Chengdu, in 1981, it was a sleepy provincial capital. Unlike most places, where the best you could do was bland hotel restos or drab dingy places with names like People's Restaurant Number 7, Chengdu (like Peking, Shanghai and Canton) had one or two real restaurants -- Chengdu Restaurant and Furong Restaurant. How thrilled I was to discover Gong Bao Chicken! But its preparation was closer to that in a take-out restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and the food I later had in Flushing's Spicy & Tasty was a revelation.

                    Show Hidden Posts