I’ve now lived in China for a month and have luckily been enjoying a lot of good food since I arrived. I am based in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province. As China is so big the food from different regions varies a lot.
I’ve found the food in Chengdu to be absolutely delicious even though its known to be the spiciest in China! I wanted to share with you all the amazing Chinese food in Chengdu I’ve had the pleasure of eating in the last month and hopefully won’t make you to hungry in the process!
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Where to stay
|Accommodation||Price-range||Why stay here?|
|Xishu Garden Inn||Budget||Central location, dormitories or private rooms. Homelike atmosphere.|
|Minimax Premier Hotel||Mid-range||High-rise hotel in the city centre with included breakfast.|
|The St Regis||Luxury||Perfect on site spa and rooftop swimming pool. Luxury rooms and on-site restaurants.|
8 Foods in Chengdu to try
1 Sichuan Hotpot
So Hotpot is a dish specific to the Sichuan province, and is not just delicious but a great social occasion too. You dine at tables with a large dish in the middle which is heated. This dish is filled with broth, chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and mainly oil! You then order a selection of small plates of uncooked meat and vegetables. These are then tipped into the dish and left for a few minutes to cook through.
There are all sorts of vegetables including lotus root and many different meats. There was cows stomach, squid rolls, meatballs, spam, beef and bacon. All is tipped into one pot and cooked through giving so much flavour to everything.
You also get your own pot of oil to tip into your own bowl (just in case there wasn’t enough already!). Just a warning guaranteed your belly won’t appreciate this much oil in a night so don’t have to many big plans to do the next morning. This is 100% the best food in chengdu.
BBQ restaurants provide another really sociable option for eating out in Chengdu. If you’re a meat lover this one is definitely for you! Everything comes on wooden sticks either cooked or uncooked. If uncooked your table will have a grill in the middle that you can cook it on!
There are all different types of meat including lamb, frog, rabbit, beef, pork, and different vegetables including lotus root and potatoes. The food comes with a good coating of spice as does everything in Sichuan, but if you really want it plain you can normally just ask using a translator app!
Unfortunately, I was too busy stuffing my face when we went for a BBQ. However, I did get a picture of the BBQ meat they offer in the markets (if insects count as meat!).
3 Beijing shredded meat
This dish is one of my favourite I’ve had since arriving in Chengdu. It is shredded meat (normally pork… I think!) covered in a sauce normally found in Beijing. It is sweet and sticky and to me tastes absolutely amazing! It is covered in thin slices of spring onion, which complement it so well! They also give you so much food here… one dish costing 20 RMB (£2) is easily shared between two for dinner.
The taste of this is probably the closest to what we know as a Chinese takeaway in the west (although it isn’t that close!). It’s also one of the mildest dishes I’ve had here, so if you’re not keen on spice this is a good food in Chengdu to go for.
4 Gongbao chicken
Again this is one of my favourite dishes I’ve had in China. It is chicken cooked with peanuts, peppers and chillis. It is sticky and a little bit sweet, and is absolutely gorgeous! I’m not a big fan for peanuts so tend to avoid them, but the overall taste of the dish is so delicious. It is a common option in most restaurants here so is normally easy to get hold of if you’re in Sichuan!
5 Bao Zi
Now these were nicknamed ‘little buns of joy’ by my boyfriend and I definitely believe this is the best way to describe them! They are steamed buns filled with an option of fillings. My favourite is the braised pork, cooked in a selection of spices and vegetables. The best part about these is they cost just 2 RMB (equivalent of 20p (GBP)). They’re a popular breakfast food in Chengdu.. If you’re visiting definitely get some of these! Often sold on street stalls or supermarkets.
6 ‘Chinese cake’
Now I do have a big sweet tooth, and I was slightly worried I wouldn’t be able to get even chocolate in China (you can, don’t panic!). I’ve also found that their chocolate and sweet options, are significantly more savoury than what I’m used to back in the UK.
However, this little bakery near where I live does a selection of Chinese sweets. Most of them are however very savoury! But they do this gorgeous cake with layers of fresh cream and raisins in it which I’ve definitely fell in love with! It’s much lighter and not as sweet as cake from the UK, but still a great treat and a bargain at 6 RMB (60p (GBP)).
7 ‘Pot noodle’
If you’re from the UK you’ll definitely have had a pot noodle at some point! Now head to China’s supermarket and you’ll find aisles devoted to what looks like their version of a pot noodle. They are the same in the sense you add hot water and wait, but that’s about where the similarity ends!
They contain noodles, dried vegetables/meat and normally two different spice pastes to add. Add all this in and you’re left with a tasty noodle dish with chopsticks included for just 4 RMB (40p (GBP)).
They’re great if you’re feeling lazy or just fancy an evening in in front of the TV! They were a major part of my first impressions of Chengdu, as my boyfriend lived off them when I was ill for a week when we got here, and he definitely secretly enjoyed it!
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8 Rabbit head
So this to me is an absolutely disgusting and weird option to order on a menu! Although, I have to accept that the Chinese eat every part of an animal, which is so good in an ethical and ecological sense. They must have a much lower rate of meat thrown away than, for example,in the UK. Anyway back to the rabbit head… You can buy them for as little as 5RMB (50p (GBP), but it was the way they eat them that really shocked me! So they rip off the bottom jaw, and then proceed to pull of bits of the meat from the skull! You’ve experienced one of the strangest foods in China once you’ve tried this.
Apparently, the cheek is the best part although they also enjoy the tongue a lot! I have to say I’m not that squeamish but it still made me think ewwww! I’m yet to try this particular delicacy but will have to brave it at some point!
Tips for trying food in Chengdu
- Eat at the ‘hole in the wall’ places. These are local establishments where you often eat on the street.
- Price doesn’t always mean better! Go for the cheap foods.
- Remember, they don’t do knives and forks in China – if you really can’t use chopsticks, bring your own.
Is food in Chengdu different to Western Chinese food?
Yes – completely!
It’s actually very hard to find western Chinese dishes such as sweet and sour chicken balls or chinese curry. However, life in Chengdu has given me the opportunity to try all of these traditional Chinese foods. So before you make your decision, give the traditional food a fair chance and try it!
Life in Chengdu has given me the opportunity to try all of these traditional Chinese foods.
I hope you loved hearing about all the weird and wonderful food options I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in Chengdu!
Although there are many incredible foods in the world, I have to say I fully believe food in Chengdu is the best in the world. There were many reasons to teach English in China – but the food has to be the top one.