Eating is always a big part of life
in Sichuan. Everywhere you go, you will find restaurants
around every corner, whether it's a nice classy restaurant,
or a budget restaurant for the masses - you will find
delicious food. There are so many restaurants, and
the competition is so fierce that any "not-so-good"
restaurant will go out of business within the first
I visited my home town during the
summer, and really enjoyed the food of the restaurants
just down below in my uncle's condo. not surprisingly,
less than 6 months later, when I went back to visit,
all four restaurants there (side by side) had all
changed owners, and another month later, another one
of those restaurants had already closed down.
This is not to say that restaurants
go out of business - the "not so good" ones
do - the good restaurants are always full and packed,
and often we have to wait for seats. But because of
this fierce competition, you can be sure that the
food is always top notch.
Here, we're at a somewhat classy restaurant compared
to the normal restaurants you find in the streets.
We had dishes such as "ten thousand years
noodle" (noodles made from fish meat), spicy
beef, tofu, "cross the river chicken",
In Sichuan, cold dishes are very popular, and there's
a type of cold dish that's called "Cross the
river" dish. What it is, is boiled meats like
chicken, duck, rabbit, etc. are dipped in a spicy
dipping sauce - hence it's called "Cross the
River Chicken". Very delicious.
To western standards, the food is
very inexpensive. Typically, cold dishes cost around
$5 to $15 yuan, and hot dishes cost around $10 to
$20 yuan. This is just generalizing on average food
cost - a full meal for 8 to 10 people will cost around
$150 to $200 yuan, which converts to about $25 USD.
Sichuan Hot Pot
Hot Pot is one of Sichuan's specialty
food. There are all types of hot pots - spicy, non
spicy, and with all different types of theme flavors.
There are mainly two styles of hotpot that you order,
either a "regular" hotpot or a "theme"
hot pot such as frog hotpot, duck hot pot, mushroom
hotpot, fish head hot pot, rabbit hot pot, eel hotpot,
and so much more.
With the "regular" hot
pots, you get the basic hot pot soup - either spicy,
non-spicy, or a half and half pot. After deciding
on the type of pot you want, you then order all types
of foods to cook in the hotpot. You can order vegetables
and meats such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck,
eel, rabbit, frog, fish, mushrooms, winter melon,
lettuce, lotus root, tofu, rice noodles, and so much
more. Generally, the hotpots are usually inexpensive,
and the items cost anywhere from $2 yuan to $15 yuan.
(I'm here with my family in a Duck hotpot restaurant.
We started off with two tables of duck meat hot
pot, and ordered side items such as beef, lamb,
mushrooms, taro root, lotus root, lettuce, seaweed,
and other types of items. This meal cost me a little
over $200 yuan, and there were about 14 people.)
With the "theme" hotpots,
you must go to specialty hotpot restaurants that serve
that theme. For example, a frog hotpot restaurant,
a lamb hot pot restaurant, or a rabbit or duck hotpot
restaurant. With this style, you get the main theme
meat in the hot pot you order. A large pot costs around
$50 yuan (more or less), and if you need additional
meat, it will cost you by pound - ie. fish head hot
pot usually cost around $15-$18 yuan per pound of
fish head. Besides the main course in the hot pot,
you can still order all types of other items as mentioned
above in the same price range. A typical hot pot meal
for 8 to 10 people will cost around $150 to $200 yuan.
So it's very inexpensive.
Szechuan Night Food
Sichuan offers so many varieties
of snacks and late night snacks. Generally, there
are certain streets in a city where all the night
vendors gather, and you get a live and vibrant night
market. Aside from night markets, you will also find
snack food vendors all over the place. The most common
and popular snack foods you will discover include:
cold noodles, szechuan style jello, baked yam, all
types of noodles, wontons, dumplings, street BBQ stands,
and so much more.
Here's a BBQ stand at night in NeiJiang. You can
see all the different types of foods on skewer on
One of my favorite
is the street BBQ vendors in my home town. Each city
in Sichuan will have different styles of snacks and
street food, so you may not necessarily find the same
stuff in different cities.
A photo of the night street with a whole lineup
of snack food vendors.
You can find street
BBQ in most places, but their style of cooking and
flavoring will be somewhat different. The BBQ stands
sell skewered food for $0.50 to $1.00 yuan each, and
you can buy items such as dried tofu, ribs, beef,
lamb, seaweed, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, taro root,
lotus root, onions, green chilies, etc...