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Jan 29, 2008 12:26 PM

Dumplings in Chengdu

I realize that this is probably hopeless, but...

I was in China in 2005 and I went to a restaurant/idner where I was served a ten-course meal. One of the courses was steamed meat dumplings in a spicy, addictive sauce. They were absolutely amazing. Fortunately a couple of other Westerners at my table couldn't handle the heat (it was our first meal in Sichuan) and I got to eat theirs, too. These were, without a doubt, the most delicious thing I had on my 17-day trip around China.

Does anyone know what they could be called? I really want to try to find them in Vancouver, Canada.

(I don't know the name of the restaurant, either. I know that it was in the same block as the Philharmonic Hotel, which was owned by the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.)


I just read another Chengdu post and I think that these are the dumplings.

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  1. Most Sichuan-style restaurants will have a version of this dish, called something like "dumplings in chili oil" (usually in the appetizers section of the menu). It's a simple dish, just conventional "shui jiao" dumplings or sometimes wontons served in a dish of very spicy chili oil or sauce.

    1. Are you certain they were steamed? Shui jiao and chao shou are both boiled. The pictured ones are definitely the wonton type - hong2 you2 chao1 shou3 红油抄手. (chao shou are wontons in sichuan language).

      Did a blog post on chao shou not too long ago:

      6 Replies
      1. re: pepper_mil

        Nice blog, thanks.

        For the record, although shui jiao (as the name implies) are usually boiled, a
        steamed version of a similar dumpling can sometimes be found, like the ones in this picture:

        I've encountered them myself in Shanghai. I've never encountered steamed wontons, though.

        1. re: pepper_mil

          I am not sure that they were steamed. I just meant that they were served hot, not cold.

          Can I ask, Pepper_mil, are Ants climbing a tree the same as the Chengdu Tantan noodles? I had so much food there, I forget a lot of it. Tantan noodles here seem to be noodles covered in peanut sauce, which is so wrong.

          1. re: miss_bennet

            They are different. Ants climbing a tree is always made with dou fer (bean thread noodles) and dan dan mian use wheat noodles. The seasonings are different too, and dan dan mian is more of a snack while ants climing a tree is a main dish.

            oh, dan dan mian on a menu: 但但面

            1. re: pepper_mil

              I thought the noodles in Ants climbing a tree (bean thread noodles) were called fen si?

              Agree that ants is more of a dish -- generally eaten with rice.

              1. re: Cookingthebooks

                What's in a name? Cook's Thesaurus lists about 40 different names for bean thread noodles that may show up in print and doesn't even include what most Shanghainese call them, "xi fen".


                1. re: Cookingthebooks

                  Yes, I think that is a more correct name for them. I meant the noodles in that dish are made from bean starch = dou fen, in Mandarin. Locally we say 'fer' for 'fen' and the term can also mean noodles themselves (like some varieties of the cold seasoned type), but I am not sure if you can use it in this case.