Top 20 Local Foods you should try in Chengdu
Chengdu, known as the land of abundance having a lot of things that outsiders envy: slow-paced life, cute pandas, beautiful scenery, beautiful ladies, and delicious food, attracts thousands of global tourists every year. Carrying thousands of years of history and a wide variety of varieties, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network awarded it the title of "City of Gastronomy".
Chengdu is a city truly a paradise for foodies, whether the brightly colored Sichuan cuisine or the spicy-numbing and the delicious hot pot or all kinds of snacks that are mouth-watering and delicious. There are many restaurants scattered throughout the city's every corner from unassuming “fly restaurants” to fine dining restaurants, allowing you to eat from dawn to dark and from spring to winter. Here we've listed the 20 best local foods in Chengdu you should try during your China tour.
- Top 10 Must-try Snacks in Chengdu
- Top 10 Must-try Dishes in Chengdu
Top 10 Must-try Snacks in Chengdu
Chengdu’s snacks are diverse in variety, exquisitely produced, rigorously selected materials, varied in taste, and complete in color, fragrance, and flavor. According to statistics, there are about 200 kinds of snacks in Chengdu, such as Long Chaoshou, Zhong Shui Dumplings, Dan Dan Noodles, Fuqi Feipian, etc. Nearly one-third of the shops are snack shops, and snack bars can be found everywhere in the streets.
Known as "three cannonballs", it is one of the most distinctive snacks that you shouldn’t miss when you are in Chengdu. Mostly made of glutinous rice with sweet bean flour, it tastes similar to a famous snack "rolling donkey" in Beijing. However, Sandapao is a bit sweeter with the red syrup poured on it. Unlike other glutinous rice cakes that merely taste good, sandapao can also mobilize the eater's sense of hearing through interesting and enjoyable preparation. When throwing glutinous rice balls with great force, the sound sounded like "projectiles" "Dang! Dang! Dang!". The food streets such as Jinli Street and Wide and Narrow Alley are the best place to enjoy this typical snack.
Long Chao Shou 龙抄手
Similar to dumplings, Long Chao Shou is also stuffed with pork and vegetables, but its dough is thinner and served in a soup. Long Chao Shou is a famous traditional snack in Chengdu, and Chaoshou is a special name for wontons by Sichuanese. "Long Chaoshou" opened in Chengdu's Yuelai Market in 1941, moved to the New Market in the early 1950s, and then to the southern section of Chunxi Road in the 1960s. It has a history of more than 60 years.
Lai Tang Yuan 赖汤圆
Lai Tang Yuan, one of the most famous and popular traditional local snacks in Chengdu, is glutinous rice balls with smooth and white color, soft and waxy wrapper, thick sweet sesame oil, and rich nutrition. Lai Tangyuan was founded in 1894 and has a history of one hundred years, which has always maintained the quality of time-honored famous snacks.
Zhong Shui Jiao 钟水饺
Zhong Shui Jiao dumpling is one of the famous local traditional snacks in Chengdu, Sichuan Province with a history of over one hundred years. Known at home and abroad for its unique flavor, it has been awarded the titles of "Chinese Time-honored Brand", "Chinese Famous Snacks" and "Green Catering Enterprise". In terms of materials, the main difference between Zhong Shui Jiao dumplings and boiled dumplings in northern China is that they are all filled with pork and no other fresh vegetables are added. When served, they are topped with special red oil, which is slightly sweet and salty, both spicy, and has a unique flavor. The dumplings have a sweet taste.
Dandan Noodles 担担面
Dandan noodles is a representative food in Sichuan cuisine and an essential delicacy when people taste Sichuan cuisine. It is said that porters carry noodles with shoulder poles at the wharf to sell, hence the name. The authentic Dan Dan noodles must be noodles made by the chef with flour, the noodles are thin. The most important thing is to scoop the authentic Sichuan Cardamine bean sprouts to taste. Dandan noodles are usually served in small bowls, with a small amount of fine quality, a refreshing bowl, undercover with red oil, and crunchy peanuts, which is really tasty.
Tofu Pudding 豆花
Tofu pudding is a common home-cooked delicacy in Sichuan, which is harder than jellied bean curd. Those who like salty and spicy flavors can choose sanzi tofu pudding or spicy-numbing tofu pudding. On a hot day or when eating spicy food, you can have a bowl of ice drunk beancurd, which is cool, smooth, and slightly sweet and whose heat-relieving effect is as good as ice cream. To enjoy various flavors of tofu pudding, we would highly recommend Xiao Tan Dou Hua to you, which is an old store that represents the "Taste of Chengdu" carrying the memories of the taste of Chengdu in the historical changes of generations. The tofu pudding here is rich, smooth, and soft, so tender that it melts in your mouth.
Fuqi Feipian 夫妻肺片
Fuqi Feipian, or Husband and Wife Lung Slices, is a traditional famous dish in Chengdu, created by Guo Chaohua and his wife Zhang Tianzheng. Usually, beef scalp, beef heart, beef tongue, tripe, beef, and other main ingredients are marinated and then sliced, then add chili oil, Sichuan pepper powder, and other auxiliary materials to make red oil and pour it on top. It is delicately made, beautiful in color, tender and delicious, spicy and fragrant, very palatable. In May 2017, it topped the list of "2017 American Dining Ranking List" by Brett Martin and released by the American "GQ" magazine, at the same time, it was selected as "Appetizer of the Year". The English name of this dish is translated as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith".
Roasted Rabbit Head 兔头
Roasted rabbit head, this "dark cruise" that scares foreigners is a delicacy that countless Chengdu people can't stop. According to reports, Sichuanese eats at least 200-300 million rabbit heads a year, and Chengdu accounts for at least 90%! So, if you come to Chengdu, you must be bold enough to try this really scary delicacy. In Chengdu, the most authentic one is Shuangliu Laoma Tutou, which is far from the main city. If you have time, you must go there to taste it. If there is not enough time, there are also delicious rabbit heads in the urban area. Usually rabbit head has two flavors: numbing-spicy and spiced, both of which have no smell, but the taste is spicy or delicious, which makes you won’t stop.
Bo Bo Chicken 钵钵鸡
Bobo chicken is now a typical representative of Chengdu snacks, with two types of pot bottoms: red oil and rattan pepper. However, the earliest birthplace of Bobo Chicken is in Leshan, Sichuan. It has a history of hundreds of years since the Qing Dynasty. Now, this delicacy has become a common street snack in Chengdu.
The red oil of the Bobo Chicken is bright, fragrant, and spicy. The food is soaked after being cooked and processed to cool, and waiting for the food to absorb the essence of the soup, and then sprinkle with white and plump sesame, it looks drooling. Of course, the red oil of Bobo Chicken also has a great background. First, the chicken soup is boiled for a long time, and each store adds its own unique secret recipe in it to make these delicious flavors.
Guokui is a traditional delicacy in Sichuan and Shanxi, which is fried and then baked. Different from Guokui in other places, Guokui in Sichuan has countless kinds of fillings. The most common ones are pork belly, beef, and brown sugar. After a bite, the smell of the hot guokui overflowed, and the sound of broken skin could be heard.
Chengdu Guoguo is also known as Juntun Guoguo, and its origin is in Juntun Township, Pengzhou, Sichuan. It is said that in the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge Liang ordered General Jiang Wei to lead his troops to recuperate and train horses in Junle Town, Pengzhou City, Sichuan Province. “Juntun'' got its name from this, and today's Guokui gradually evolved from the dry food in the army.
Top 10 Must-try Dishes in Chengdu
Chengdu, as the best place to enjoy the tasty and multi-flavored Sichuan cruises, in addition to its large variety of local snacks, there are hundreds of dishes worth a bite including the world-famous hot-pot, twice-cooked pork belly, kung pao chicken, mapo tofu, etc. Here we have picked the top 10 must-try dishes for your inspiration.
Chengdu Hot Pot 成都火锅
Hot pot is not the only gourmet with tasteful flavor but also contains the connotation of food culture, which adds elegance to people's taste. When eating hot pot, men, women, young and old, relatives and friends gathered around the steaming hot pot, held their arms to talk, raised their chopsticks to pick up the gourmet from the pot, the atmosphere is filled with warmth and harmony, which is a great example of the traditional Chinese culture of reunion. The most distinctive feature of the Chengdu hot pot is the mala yuanyang hot pot, with numbing-spicy and delicious flavor on one side and light and tasty flavor on the other side, which can suit all tastes. To enjoy hot pot, Bashu Dazhaimen should be one of the best choices.
In Chengdu, there are other versions of the hot pot such as Chuan Chuan Xiang Hot Pot or Maocai for you to enjoy. "Chuan Chuan Xiang" is a kind of snack that uses bamboo sticks to skew various dishes and put them in a boiling hot pot. If you are alone, Maocai should be the best option to have a taste of the hot pot, just as a saying said that “Maocai is one person’s hot pot, and hot pot is a group of people’s Maocai”. Maocai is a very distinctive snack in Chengdu, Sichuan, different from Chuan Chuan Xiang and hot pot, the soup in Mao Cai can also be drunk.
Bang Bang Chicken 棒棒鸡
Bang Bang Chicken was originally a traditional snack in the Leshan area. It has been prosperous since it entered Chengdu in the 1920s. The feature of Bang Bang Chicken is that the shredded chicken is not cut with a knife, but is made by loosening the stick and then tearing it by hand, then pouring the seasoning that has been prepared, and adding peanuts, celery knots, etc. It tastes spicy and sweet and is a good dish when you drink “Baijiu” - Chinese wine. Both Liao’s and Hu’s are the best stores to have Bang Bang Chicken, which have chain stores in the city selling diversified delicacies, but they only sell delicacies to eat and do not provide tables and chairs for dining.
Fish-Flavored Shredded Pork 鱼香肉丝
The fish-flavored shredded pork is named after the fish-flavored flavor which is one of the main traditional flavors of Sichuan cuisine. The cooked dish has a fish flavor, but its flavor does not come from the "fish" but is prepared by pickled red pepper, green onion, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and other condiments. This method originated from the unique cooking fish seasoning method of Sichuan folks, and it has been widely used in Sichuan-style cooked dishes. The main ingredient of this dish is pork, which is 30% fat and 70% lean. Cut the pork into silky pork and fry to make the pork tender. The dish is ruddy in color, tender in meat, delicious in quality, and rich in fish-flavored flavor.
Twice-cooked Pork Belly 回锅肉
Twice-cooked pork is a traditional Sichuan cuisine for cooking pork. The main raw materials are pork, green pepper, garlic sprouts, etc., with a unique taste, bright red color, fat but not greasy, and strong flavor in the mouth. Originated in rural areas of Sichuan. In ancient times, it was called an oil pan, and most families could make it. The so-called re-cooking means stir-frying again. The status of twice-cooked pork in Sichuan cuisine is very important which is considered by many to be the first of Sichuan cuisine and the embodiment of Sichuan cuisine. When it comes to Sichuan cuisine, you must think of twice-cooked pork.
Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁
Kung Pao Chicken, a well-known traditional dish that is famous at home and abroad and has been included by Shandong cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, and Guizhou cuisine, but the raw materials and methods are different, is made from fried diced chicken, dried chilies, peanuts, etc. Because of its spicy taste, the tenderness of the chicken, and the crispness of peanuts, it is very popular all over the world, especially in Western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, Kung Pao chicken is "overwhelming" and almost synonymous with Chinese cuisine. The situation is similar to spaghetti in Italian cuisine.
Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐
Mapo tofu is a famous Sichuan cuisine that highlights the "numbing-spicy" characteristic of Sichuan cuisine. Founded in the first year of Tongzhi in the Qing Dynasty (1862), it uses tofu, ground beef (pork can also be used), chili, and Sichuan pepper as the main materials. With rich ingredients, it tastes numbing-spicy and salty, the flavor of numbing comes from Sichuan pepper, and spicy comes from the chili. Mapo tofu is specially served with rice, and you can eat it at all restaurants. The most famous one is Chen Mapo Tofu, which offers different sizes at different prices.
Laziji (Stir-fried Chicken with Sichuan Pepper and Chilli) 辣子鸡
Laizji is a characteristic traditional home-cooked dish, belonging to Sichuan cuisine. Salty, numbing-spicy, and tender is the most prominent feature of this dish. The chicken is fried three times until golden and then fried with chili and Sichuan pepper. First add the green onion, ginger, garlic into the hot oil to stir fry until fragrant, then add Sichuan chili bean paste and stir fry to get the red oil, then add the other ingredients and mix it into a fresh and numbing-spicy flavor. The color is golden and ruddy, which is very festive. The crispy chicken with one bite is a very typical Sichuan cuisine taste.
Spicy Sichuan Water Boiled Fish/Pork/Beef 水煮鱼/肉片/牛肉
Due to the humid weather in Sichuan, and choosing spicy food is a good way to remove moisture and perspiration, the boiled (Shuizhu) series has naturally become a typical Sichuan cuisine and an excellent series of delicacies in the land of abundance. Spicy soup, fresh and tender ingredients, put together with special craftsmanship, make Sichuan delicious boiled dishes. A variety of numbing-spicy and fresh dishes, such as Shui Zhu Yu, Shui Zhu Pork, Shui Zhu Beef, make tourists linger. The spicier the more they want to eat.
Red Oil Rabbit 红油兔丁
A traditional dish of Chengdu people’s favorite, it is also a must-have dish and signature dish in most cold dish restaurants in Sichuan. This dish has the characteristics of red and bright color, full shape, numbing-spicy and delicious, tender and sweet, delicate and oily. The materials used are high in quality, not only the rabbit meat selected is fat and tender, but the various condiments are also the best, especially the chili used must be Chengdu Erjingtiao and Chaotian pepper, Sichuan pepper is selected from high-quality materials from Hanyuan, and soy sauce, tempeh, peanuts, sesame, all carefully selected, using the best raw materials. In terms of heat, knife work, and red oil refining, they are all ingenious, and the production process is exquisite. Among all the restaurants serving rabbit, Erjie Tuding is the most recommended.
Smoked Sausage 腊香肠
Spiced, dried, smoked pork sausage is a kind of salted sausage, a famous dish of Han nationality in Sichuan, and belongs to Sichuan cuisine. It is definitely a delicacy with a salty, numbing-spicy, and fresh taste, which makes it easy to eat. It can be steamed or cooked, or sliced first, then fried again. If steamed, it is fragrant and its taste is oily but not greasy and full of flavor. However, it is not available all year round, as all the smoked meats and sausages in Sichuan are in winter.