The predominant ingredient in the food here is CHILI! And, if you thought you could handle a Vindaloo curry, then try some of Chengdu's spiciest food, laced with chili from top to bottom. Locals argue that chili is beneficial both in summer to help cool you down, and in winter, as a warmer. According to Chinese legend chili also has medicinal properties and helps protect against illnesses which result from wet or damp conditions.
For those unaccustomed to spicy food, Sichuan dishes can be hard to handle. Chili used correctly however, is not supposed to be overbearing, but to bring out the flavors of a dish. Once you get used to the spice, it becomes easier to enjoy Sichuan food. The most famous dishes from the region include Spicy chicken with
peanut (Gong bao ji ding), and spiced tofu with chili(Ma po dou fu).
Many dishes here are served in a fish flavored (Yu xiang) sauce which is made from vinegar, ginger, sesame and soy). Hotpot is also very popular here, and there are numerous restaurants and stalls serving up spicy pots to passers-by. There are over 10 varieties of Chengdu hotpot including hotpot with boiled mutton, and hot pot with beer duck and all are pretty spicy so beware!
The best places to sample typical Sichuan cusine in Chengdu are the Chengdu Restaurant and Grandma Chen's Beancurd Restaurant. See our Restaurant Index for more information about where to eat in Chengdu!
Bang Bang Chicken
(Bang bang ji) is a traditional local dish that actually originated in Leshan, and was introduced to Chengdu in 1920. To prepare this dish a flaming stick is used to reheat a cooked chicken so that the meat becomes light and flaky. The chicken is served with sesame and soy sauce. This is one of the tastiest cold dishes in Chengdu and less spicy than many others which are popular here.
(Guoba Roupian) is a special dish unique to Chengdu. This tasty dish arrives at your table in two separate parts; a golden crust of cooked rice in one bowl and hot sauce in another. The hot sauce is immediately poured on the rice which crackles at the sensation!
Hotpot is very popular in Chengdu, and is known for its spicy and hot flavor which can make the tasters tongue go numb! Hotpot once was only served up at home to the family but is now hugely popular throughout Chengdu on the street and in restaurants.
There are numerous different flavors available including lamb and fish hot pot. This is particularly nice in the winter as the spiciness is very warming! To eat a hot pot, just grab some friends, chuck in the pot what you fancy eating and wait for it to cook!
Mapo Bean Curd
"Mapo" bean curd is perhaps one of the most typical of Chinese bean curd dishes and is hugely popular throughout the country.
The very best place to sample this spicy dish is in Grandma Chen's Bean Curd restaurant. This restaurant was established in 1842 and the owner wife, Grandma Chen, who created this dish, had a very marked face.
The Chinese word for this is "Ma", and "Po" is the name given to an old woman. Since then, this dish has gained notoriety throughout the nation but maintained its original name. Soft bean curd is served with a very fiery meat sauce and this is a very spicy and hot dish, normally served coated with a thick layer of oil, minced beef and dry chilies.
Spiced chicken with peanuts
Spiced chicken with peanuts is one of the special local dishes of Chengdu. This dish , while very spicy, is popular with westerners as the taste is similar to sweet and sour. The name for this dish (Gongbao ji ding) stems from a Sichuan legend about a rich man who always asked his chef to cook this dish for visitors.
This man went on to become a top official in Sichuan (A Gongbao) hence, the dish associated with him was named this way! Another way to sample this dish is with pork meat instead of chicken.
(Jisi Liang Mien) is a traditional cold dish from Sichuan, which has become popular all over China recently, especially in the north. Noodles are first cooked and then left to cool.
They are then served with either bean sprouts and sauce, or eaten with shreds of chicken meat, pork and ham.
(fuqi feipian) is a cold dish unique to Sichuan that was created by an affectionate couple fifty years ago.
Literally translated, the name of the dish means
"Couples Lungs" but in fact, the dish is not made from lungs but other inner parts.
The meat is stewed in soy sauce and then served with chili oil, pepper, sesame and peanut.