Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is home to about fourteen million people and a city steeped in history, going back 3000 years. It is a city of atmospheric teahouses and also a place to come for good food. The province is also home to more than 80% of the world’s wild pandas, and has many beautiful national parks, gorgeous mountains and more.
I am only here for three days as a ‘stopover’ on the way to Xinjiang. And since Chengdu is a transport hub that serves Western China, transport options are plentiful. It was time to fly. Plus a few days of good food before going west wouldn’t go astray.
As I read more about Sichuan, I realise that there really is a lot to see in this province. A month isn’t going to be enough, let alone three days. Distances are vast, and there are also some remote and rugged parts which takes days to get to on a bus. Ah well, since I have already planned to go to Xinjiang, I will have to forego Sichuan this time.
Unlike Yunnan, Sichuan is famous for its cuisine. The dishes are often spicy and pungent, but they do have non-spicy dishes as well. Flavours tend to be bold. I usually order the dishes without the chillies (or with very little). Sometimes it is not really possible, e.g. Sichuan hotpot. According to Saskia, who is a Beijing resident and samples a lot of different Chinese foods, the Sichuan hotpot usually comes in either hot, very hot, or f*cking hot (my words, not hers 🙂 so I guess that’s out for me.
Dan Dan Noodles
Sichuan cooking uses a lot of garlic, Sichuan pepper, sesame paste, anise, ginger and other unique sauces. The more famous Sichuan dishes such as Kung Pao Chicken and Mapo Tofu are also very often served in other Chinese restaurants, but nothing beats my favourite, which is Dan Dan Noodles (pictured), or Bon Bon Chicken. Fun names too! 🙂
Unfortunately, I came down with another bout of flu when I got to Chengdu, so I haven’t been able to see anything, not even the pandas. However, I am happy that I managed to at least find a couple of eateries close to the hostel that served good, simple Sichuan dishes.
Sichuan, I will be back!