Bang Bang Chicken 棒棒鸡丝
Despite Sichuan’s preoccupation with spice, there are some dishes that don’t scald the tongue. Bang Bang Chicken, a cold meat dish, is one of these. To prepare, a pre-cooked chicken is re-heated, thwacked repeatedly with a mallet (hence the ‘bang bang’), shredded, and coated with seasame sauce and rice vinegar. It might not sound good on paper, but one bite of this dish will have you bang-banging the table for seconds.
Liaoji (Liao’s ) Bangbangji (Chicken)
Add: 1315 Guomao Plaza, Shihui Jie, Chengdu
Guoba Roupian 锅巴肉片
Two bowls are necessary to serve this split dish. One contains sweet pork with a delicious crust of cooked rice, the other is brimming with hot sauce. Pour the hot sauce over the rice and delight as the concoction crackles and pops - and the taste is nothing to scoff at, either. This dish is specific to the Chengdu subgourp of Sichuan cuisine.
Mapo Bean Curd 麻婆豆腐
Mapo Bean Curd, or Mapo Tofu, is wildly popular throughout China, but the restaurant where the dish originated is located in Chengdu. The tofu is served hot and soft, swimming in minced beef or pork, and Sichuan peppercorns.
“Mapo” literally means “pockmarked grandmother”, named after the (possibly fictional) aged proprietress of Grandma Chen’s Restaurant that purportedly invented the dish. Grandma Chen’s, opened in 1842, is still in operation today.
Grandma Chen's Bean Curd Restaurant
Established in 1842, legend has it that the long-dead founder of this restaurant invented the popular dish “mapo tofu”.
Add: No.19 Qinghua Lu, Chengdu
Gongpao Jiding (Kung Pao Chicken) 宫保鸡丁
This dish may well be the world’s most popular Chinese dish, and is one of the only recipes that has remained largely unchanged despite the fact that it has been exported and replicated in Chinese restaurants all over the globe. Made from spiced chicken and peanuts, gongpao jiding blends sweet and sour flavors to create an internationally adored dish.
Though the dish itself is well known, the legend behind it is not. It’s said that in ancient times, there was a cook in the service of a rich man named Ding Baozhen. One day, the cook whipped up some spicy chicken, threw in some peanuts, and presented it to his lord. Ding Baozhen was so impressed, he demanded his cook make the dish every time Ding entertained guests. Later, Mr. Ding became a government official in Sichuan, and was granted the title of “gongbao”, a formidable rank in Qing Dynasty-era provincial politics. The dish garnered local fame and was named after him.
Fish Flavored Shredded Pork (Yu Xiang Rou Si) 鱼香肉丝
Meat-flavored meat probably doesn’t sound like something to get too excited about, but despite the odd name, the dish doesn’t actually contain any fish. Sweet and tangy, yu xiang rou si is prepared by cutting pork into thin strips, frying it, and adding sliced vegetables.
Originating in Chongqing, hotpot has become a national phenomenon. To eat hotpot, one first chooses several plates from a list of raw foods. Numerous vegetables, meats, tofu and exotica are commonly available. After several minutes, a boiling stockpot with a small gas flame or a pile of coal embers burning underneath is brought to the table along with your order, which is pre-cut into bite-sized portions. When the broth (there is typically a decent selection of multi-flavored broths) is boiling, diners snatch up the raw food with chopstics, plunge it into the pot, and hold it under the water until it cooks. When your portion is done, dunk it in the dipping sauce and pop it in your mouth. Cook, dip, repeat. Never again will you need to worry that your food isn’t cooked to perfection.
Huangcheng Laoma Hotpot
Huangcheng Laoma enjoys a reputation as the foremost hotpot restaurant in a city of hotpot restaurants. Your meal is accompanied by a stunning performance of traditional masked opera – a feast for the tongue and for the eyes. Average price is about RMB100 per party of 1-2.
Add: No.20 Qintai Lu, Chengdu
Offers hotpot in a special split pot that is capable of holding two separate broths. One is spicy, the other light. Great for divergent tastes.
Add: No. 11 Qintai Lu, Chengdu
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