The secret’s out…we’ve found the best hidden gems for foodies visiting Chengdu, China!
Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province where most of China’s food is produced is a must-visit city for any foodie. Upon your arrival, you will notice dozens of Sichuanese restaurants on every street. Picture street-vendors selling noodles while playing cards, beautiful women asking you to try their ever so flavorful potatoes and children staring at you with their big-round curious eyes. Take in the aromas and indulge into a range of diverse street-food flavors; after all, the Sichuan province is known as the land of abundance.
The city of Chengdu offers a unique experience as it is modern yet authentic – a rare combination that is reflected in its food and culture. If you are in the mood to try something authentic, Chengdu is famous for its “Hotpot” – picture a French fondue except switch the chocolate for a spicy broth. A very spicy broth. A broth that numbs the mouth but yet is addictive, a must-have, for without it – life in Chengdu is over. The boiling broth, full of colorful and pretty hua-jiao peppercorns bubbling away is usually offered in three flavors, super spicy chilli oil, moderately spicy chilli oil or the non-spicy broth (usually placed in the middle and white in color). A large variety of meats and vegetables are usually available to cook in the hotpot.
1. Lao Ma Tou restaurant
We recommend you start your hotpot experience at Lao Ma Tou restaurant. Located on busy Yulin street, with long lines on weekends, this restaurant is famous among locals. As you enter the restaurant, the potency of the spices will take over your entire body.
If you are in the mood to be adventurous, perhaps order cow-stomach, chicken feet or pig brain? The restaurant offers all parts of cow, chicken and pig. If you prefer seafood, you can try eels, fish, frogs or even snails. If that may be too daring, play it safe with vegetables such as lotus root, potatoes, cucumbers, corn, and so on.
Address: 29 Yulin Middle Road, Wuhou District, Chengdu 610000, China
2. Qin Shan Zhai
If you want to try various kinds of traditional Chinese foods and are health conscious, we recommend restaurant Qin Shan Zhai. This restaurant is located near the popular Jingli Ancient Street and the Wuhou Temple, it specializes in northern foods full of powerful flavors from the mountains.
The atmosphere here can be described as re nao in Chinese or warm and cozy. You can be seated in a private room while sipping on fresh tea and decide between bamboo fungi (if you are risky) or perhaps a chicken-pine mushroom soup? Famous for its seared mountain yams, double-boiled soups, mouth watering herbal hotpot soup complemented by duck – this restaurant is known for its menu. Whatmakes this restaurant unique? The dishes at Qin Shan Zhai have been designed in accordance with ancient Chinese medicine.
Address: Qin Shan Zhai, 247 Wuhouci Street, Chengdu 610000, China
Chengdu also offers a vibrant and cozy environment for expats. Chengdu’s expat community is comprised of some great entrepreneurs bringing us flavors from all over the world. We suggest you visit Taikoo Li to get a global-feel in Chengdu. Taikoo Li is the urban heart of Chengdu, the area is trendy and visually spectacular. Taikoo Li has it all – shopping, Chunxi Road Pedestrian Street, fine dining, live performances, the Sichuan Opera Museum, entertainment and more.
3. Blue Frog
After exploring the area, we recommend having lunch or dinner at Blue Frog. Blue Frog offers many shareable appetizers and platters that are great for sharing on a girls’ night out. The first floor has a posh-bar feel to it and the second floor is dedicated to fine dining and reserved for non-smokers, which is a rare luxury in China. This restaurant is a little pricier than others but the frog fairies offer many specials throughout the week, for example, there are many two for one deals on Mondays and Happy Hour on multiple days during the week. We strongly encourage you to try the burger, it may just be the best burger you will eat in China.
Address: Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu, 8 Central Shamao St., Chengdu 610000, China
4. Gli Azzuri
If you are in the mood for something romantic, we suggest you head over to Gli Azzuri. This Italian restaurant is cozy and small, with only three to four tables inside and a few more on the terrace. Former chef of the Ritz-Carlton, Chef-Elton has trained with an Italian chef for eight years and every time he serves a meal, customers experience a small taste of Italy in China. The restaurant uses traditional Italian cooking techniques and uses ingredients directly from Italy. The menu has endless options, we recommend trying their pizza – it may just be the best pizza you will eat – in your lifetime (you’re welcome). Don’t forget to complete the dinner with a nice glass of imported Italian wine
.Address: Jinjiang district, HongXing Road No. 159 (4th Section of First Ring Road) East Niuwang Miao, Chengdu 610000, China
If you are looking to mingle with other expats, tourists or just in the mood to enjoy a nice cocktail, head down to Shamrock. This Irish bar / pub is located near the popular Sichuan Gymnasium and the American consulate offices. When considering the food, this pub provides its customers with a western menu, expect to find a wide range of options from a standard BLT to a classy brunch or a standard burger. In terms of the atmosphere, Shamrock has a sports bar feel to it, with pool tables everywhere and games playing on their TV screens. You will find globetrotters chatting away about life in China compared to life in the west. And, if you are lucky, you may catch their live band during the evenings or a night dedicated to salsa-everything.
Address: 15 Renmin Nan Lu, Section 4, Chengdu 610000, China
6. Cacaja Restaurant
Is your inner-Bollywood screaming “I want curry” – if so, we suggest you pop-in Cacaja Restaurant. The interior design is colorful, bright and beautiful. If you feel like dining outside, the restaurant has a great patio as well. The menu offers Indian specialties like tandoori chicken, chicken-tikka masala, kebabs and more. If you prefer indulging in some vegetarian options, we recommend trying the saag-paneer with some naan-bread. An added bonus here is that they offer delivery service (in a timely fashion) as well. Don’t forget to look into some traditional India drinks – the mango-lassi is to-die-for good. Lastly, you want to know that this restaurant was awarded the Best Asian Restaurant by CHENGDOO citylife Magazine’s readers’ poll.
Address: 40-43, 1F, SOHO, North Kehua Rd, Chengdu 610000, China