Living expenses in Chengdu are very reasonable – tasty hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Chengdu saturate the city, from shockingly cheap noodle shops to very affordable dumpling houses. Moreover, there's no shortage of inexpensive Sichuan cuisine spots in the city, and a number of surprisingly low-priced take-out Western joints have even sprouted up in recent times. Indeed, many of us expats have formed a love affair with various cheap restaurants in Chengdu. While it's difficult to mention all great cheap eats in the city, if you're looking to get your fill on a great meal and not spend too much Yuan, consider some of these restaurants in Chengdu.
1) 怪味面 Guaiwei MianView In Map
The "Strange Flavour Noodles" Restaurant is nothing more than a hole in the wall. It is dirt cheap and it blends in with the other inconspicuous restaurants around it. Yet this establishment draws heavy traffic from eleven to two in the afternoon every day. Noodle lovers will realise that this place stands-out with the first bite of any bowl of noodles offered here.
The restaurant recently achieved local fame in Chengdu for its "Strange Noodles" dish. Chengdu News ran a story on it after noticing the long lines outside the restaurant every day at lunchtime. The chefs here took a gamble, and it paid off. The dish features a blend of pork, beef, seafood, spring onions, Sichuan peppers, peanuts and much more to create a bold taste that takes the boundaries of noodle dishes to a whole new level.
All the other noodle dishes, dumplings, and wonton soup come recommended. The chive dumplings, Paigu mian, and red-bowled wonton are all good. But the Qiguai mian (奇怪面) is where it's at.
Add: 88 Xinnan Lu, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8662 3717
Opening hours: 11:00-22:30
Price: 5-12 RMB, all depending on how much you can eat.
2) 段姐餐馆 Duanjie CanguanView In Map
Simple. Standard. No nonsense. This tiny Sichuan restaurant will ask you what you want to eat as soon as you take the first step into the restaurant. Amidst four other restaurants that look exactly the same, this eatery shines above them with its superior dishes, lower prices and friendly service.
This family-run joint mixes all the flavours perfectly and doesn't over-use MSG like many other restaurants. Expat favourites like Huiguo Rou (回锅肉, Twice Cooked Pork), Ganbian Tudousi (干煸土豆丝, Fried, Shredded Potatoes), Tangcu Liji (糖醋里脊, Sweet and Sour Chicken), Yuxiang Qiezi (鱼香茄子, Fish Flavoured Eggplant), and others are all cooked to perfection at very, very affordable costs. The majority of meat dishes here are 10 to 20 RMB, and veggie dishes are mostly under 10 RMB.
It is located across the river from Lan Kwai Fong and near the Hemp House.
Add: 28 Qinglian Xia Jie, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 10:00-22:00
Price: 10- 15 RMB; a table of four should expect to spend between 45 to 75 RMB
3) 飞达西饼 Fay Da BakeryView In Map
Why are we mentioning a bakery? Well, you can eat inside, and this bakery serves up some cheap, delicious Western-style food. And Chengdu is full of expensive, bad Western food. Maybe Fay Da is not that authentic, but the quality of the food does not disappoint. The service is great as well. You can be in and out in less than two minutes.
Get the saucy Mexican Burrito (墨西哥卷饼, Moxige Juan Bing) for 7 RMB, sample crispy garlic bread for 1 RMB, eat a peppery tomatoe based pizza for 9 RMB, munch on mini-hotdogs (小丸子, Xiao Wan Zi) wrapped in bacon for 4 RMB, or sample those scrumptious bite-size sandwich sets for 9 RMB. The coffee is cheap and good also.
Add: 2 Tianxian Qiao Bei Lu, Jinjiang District, Chengdu (near Dongmen Daqiao; look out for a green sign)
Opening hours: 07:30-22:00
Price: 6 to 15 RMB per person
4) 贺水饺 He Shui JiaoView In Map
Are there any dumpling fans in the house? The famed dumplings here, He Shui Jiao (boiled dumplings), after which the restaurant is named, serves beautifully rolled dumplings sprinkled with sesame seeds, enhanced by la jiao (hot chili peppers), sugar and soy sauce. The steamed and shredded pork ribs dazzle too. No matter what type of dumplings or noodles you order, expect mammoth portions. Satisfying your appetite at this hole-in-the-wall is quite easy and inexpensive.
This restaurant can be found on the west side of Chengdu, within a short bus or bike ride from the city center.
Add: Jiaojie Xiang Intersection (near Changshun Jie), Qingyang District, Chengdu
Opening hours: It is usually open from early morning until well past nine o'clock at night.
Price: 7-15 RMB per person
5) 爱厨 Ai ChuView In Map
With the rising cost of hotpot and Chuan Chuan Xiang in Chengdu, the Sha Guo dishes here offer a tasty and cost saving option alternative to lovers of these types of meals. Sha Guo is essentially a pre-boiled pot of veggies and meats. The set meal is delivered to you already cooked. The flavor is a bit different from hotpot here though. It's pleasantly spicy and potent in flavor, but not in a typically numbing sort of Sichuan way. The restaurant is Guangdong inspired, and goose meat is the main attraction. You can also get beef, lamb, pork or veggie centered meal sets. The four person set costs a mere 68 RMB, which is quite nice when comparing that to the costs of eating hotpot with four people. A variety of soups and regular Guangdong plate dishes are offered at an average of 10 to 20 RMB as well.
Ai Chu makes its location on the south of the city, near Yu Lin Street. The place is clean and non-smoking.
Add: 2 Yujie Xiang, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 10:00-22:30 (approx)
Price: 15-25 RMB per person
A Quick End Note: Obviously, sampling cheap restaurants all over the city is nearly impossible. Readers are more than welcome to mention other great cheap restaurants in the comments section below. It will help provide fellow Chengdu residents with more options to eat cheaply.
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Keywords: Cheap eats in Chengdu inexpensive Sichuan cuisine hole-in-the-wall restaurants Chengdu cheap restaurants Chengdu
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