Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sichuan Food in Chengdu

The combination of tastes in Sichuan food (lots of chili peppers and peppercorns, hot and, occasionally, numbing) brought Chengdu a USESCO designation as Asia's first City of Gastronomy in 2010.  The vast array of restaurants, from stalls in the streets, to fancy top-end restaurants all serve a wide variety of incredible dishes based on this combination.

I start with something simple and fabulous, a lunch of pork dumplings with spicy chili sauce, minced garlic, and pickles.  To accompany it, the server didn't ask if I wanted anything to drink, but automatically brought me a cup of hot water and kept it refilled through the meal.  This is very traditional in modern China, to drink hot water or hot tea through the day and with meals.

 Spicy pork dumplings

Another lunch features stewed beef and noodles, with Sichuan spices and pickles in a [spicy/hot] chili sauce.

Spicy beef brisket noodles

One day, I wander into the high-end shopping district near Tianfu Square and find a food court in the bottom floor of a mall.  There, I choose a platter of chicken, beef, vegetables, noodles, spaghetti, soup, and rice, all for 36 RMB ($5.21 USD).  It sounds like quite a combination and it is.  I enjoy it all!

 Food court

Chicken, beef, vegetables on top, noodles and spaghetti
on bottom, soup and rice on the side

Meanwhile, out on the street, the vendors are selling great looking and smelling treats.

 Food carts

And, the markets have fabulous displays of produce and prepared foods.

Herbs and spices



Fresh fish


Everything is fresh and inviting and I only wish that I could spend a few more days and sample some more of this fabulous cuisine!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Kuanzhai Lane in Chengdu

Kuanzhai Lane is actually three small streets/lanes near Renim/People's Park, called Kuan (Wide) Lane, Zhai (Narrow) Lane, and Jing (Well) Lane.  These streets are now preserved as a microcosm of Chengdu's history.  Kuan Lane shows the original style of Chengdu life, with taverns, elaborate door headers, and old tea houses.  Zhai Lane consists of preserved traditional buildings and courtyards where Chengdu life carried on.  Jing Lane represents the new Chengdu, with modern shops and entertainment in traditional buildings.

Entrance to the three lanes

I start in Kuan (Wide) Lane, wandering down the street and looking at the great traditional buildings of Chengdu hundreds of years ago, examples of leisurely life in the Qing Dynasty.  I think the building entrances and doors are really great.

 Doors and entrances

Traditional buildings

 Lots of shops and restaurants

I next walk through a narrow passageway to Zhai (Narrow) Lane, with traditional crafts, foods, teashops, and courtyards that were central to Chengdu life.

 Narrow Lane

 Sichuan pepper shops

 Silversmiths at work

 Welcome to our teashop

I next head down another narrow passage between the lanes to Jing Lane, featuring more modern shops and restaurants (and smaller crowds)

 Jing lane (the crowds are in the old lanes)

The three lanes of Kuanzhai offer a great peek into old and new Chengdu and I enjoy my pass through, but time to head back to the hotel and think about Sichuan dinner.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jin Li Bazaar in Chengdu

Jin Li Bazaar, also known as Jinli Old Street, is next to the Wuhou Temple in Chengdu and is one of the oldest shopping streets in the Sichuan Province, about 1800 years old.  It is now preserved as a street of Chengdu specialties (embroidery, handicrafts, calligraphy, and paintings) and local food.  I wander through after leaving the temple to see what I can spot.

 Entrance to Jin Li Bazaar/Shopping Street

The street wraps around the outside of the Wuhou Temple and the old buildings have been preserved and filled with new shops.

 Proceeding down Jin Li 

 As I go further into the bazaar, the street gets narrower, with more interesting sights.

 Street narrows

One of my favorites is my first Sichuan pepper shop, with big trays of peppers all around the shop.

Pepper shop

Pepper grinder

The pepper shop is on the edge of the food district, with stalls selling food to go and serious restaurants serving enticing meals.

 Food for here

 Food to go

I wander through the food stalls, savoring the smells and sights, then head back down the street toward the entrance, spotting yet more interesting things on this fascinating street.

 Heading back up Jin Li

And, just outside the street, a small park with exercise equipment, where the monks are working out.

Monks exercising in corner park

From the park, I head across the river, toward People's Park, for my next adventure.