Many flock to Chengdu to sample its renowned cuisine. From steaming hot pot to lip-numbing stews spiced with pepper corns, Sichuan cuisine is not for the faint hearted, though there are less spicy offerings.
Start your culinary journey early in the morning at the city’s outdoor wet markets, where you can try the likes of fresh ma po tofu and poached chicken in chili oil, and browse a wide range of fresh ingredients and the myriad vegetables that go into Sichuan cuisine.
Next up, explore the origins of Sichuan’s most famous dishes. Many began life as Xian Ci (street snacks) and specialty restaurants in the city allow diners to enjoy a wide variety of dishes for reasonable prices.
Try the spicy Ma Po Tofu at Grandma Chen’s BeanCurd restaurant (197 West Yulong St), or for the more intrepid, sample the Fu Qi Fei Pian (braised cow’s lungs) at Jingcheng Yuan restaurant (23 Zongfu Rd).
If you wish for a substantial meal, head to the Nuli Restaurant (Renmin Nan St), a favourite among the city’s gourmets and famed for its Gong Bao Ji Ding (stir fried diced chicken in chili sauce and peanuts) and Qing Tang San Xian (pork balls), or steer towards any of the city’s hundreds of hotpot (also known as steamboat) eateries for an authentic fiery Sichuan experience.
If you want to take more than just memories with you from this cuisine capital, private cooking classes are available at the Sichuan Cuisine Museum on the outskirt of the city. After your hands-on experience preparing classic Sichuan dishes, visit the museum’s temple of the Kitchen God or explore the extensive collections of tableware and utensils.