Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chengdu Food - Part 3

Day 4 (25 October 2012): I had 3 pieces of steamed pork buns and three pieces of vegetable buns at the same shop as Day 3. The vegetable buns came in two varieties. It cost only RMB7 including soy milk.

The little plate contained pickled fruit/ vegetable of some kind. It came together with the buns. I did not try it. Unlike Guilin/ Yangshuo, I had yet to see fresh soy milk being sold in Chengdu and the neigbouring cities/ towns
Day 5 (26 October 2012): This was my first breakfast of dumplings at Wonton King Dumpling King. Yummy! It was by far the best I had tried. I was not satisfied with one basket and went for a second basket. One basket of nine pieces cost RMB5 only.

For dinner, I decided to try the food at South F North N restaurant. I had been eyeing this restaurant for sometime already. It was located directly opposite the Xinnanmen bus exit gate. I looked at the menu on the wall and pointed to a noodle dish which looked appetising for my order. The noodle cost RMB9.

Day 6 (27 October 2012): I was back to Wonton King Dumpling King for my breakfast of dumpling. In addition, I ordered a small bowl of Wonton for a total cost RMB10. Between these two dishes, the dumpling was better.

I have tried Chengdu hotpot and Luodai douhua (jelly-like bean curd). Gong Pao Chicken and Mapo Tofu are another two very famous dishes of Chengdu. My PNG Chengdu friend recommended them too. However, I don't read Chinese and did not know where to find them. Anyway, I decided that for dinner, I was going to South F & North N Restaurant and asked.

I guessed they were not for my Malaysian taste-buds. I could not finish Mapo Tofu. Gong Pao Chicken was not too bad and the unpleasant numbing effect after biting into Sichuan peppercorn kept me from enjoying the food fully. The bill came to RMB35, RMB22 for Gong Pao Chicken, RMB12 for Mapo Tofu and RMB1 for rice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chengdu Food - Part 2

Day 3 (24 October 2012): For breakfast, I went to the same area beside Xinnanmen side entrance for street food again, this time from a woman vendor and I ordered Wonton. The cost was again RMB8. Nothing special, just the typical taste of saltiness, not very spicy and pretty nothing much.

Then, I went for my second round of breakfast of three pieces of pork buns at a small hole where I saw a white woman having buns a day earlier. The taste was okay, not as good as the big pork bun in Kuala Lumpur or Penang. It was a little salty as usual with Sichuan food, but with oil dripping out after biting into the bun. It cost RMB5 with a packet of soy milk.

After returning from Chengdu Panda Research Base, I had lunch at a Muslim restaurant near the side entrance of Xinnanmen. The clients were mostly non-Han looking, including two Xinjiang-looking men, one of whom was peddling dried grapes and the other fruit. There was one South Asian looking guy too.

During an afternoon stroll, I came across some more snacks. It looked tempting. I guessed anything fried look tempting to me.

For dinner, I decided to go to Wonton King Dumpling King which I had noticed earlier in an afternoon stroll around the Xinnanmen neighbourhood. It was on the same row as the steamed bun shop but at a corner lot. First, it was a bowl of beef noodle followed by a bowl of Wonton. They were quite good.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chengdu Food - Part 1

Day 2 (23 October 2012)

I went out to look for breakfast before 7:30 a.m. There were street vendors around and I decided to try the stand near the side entrance of Xinnanmen Bus Station. This would be my first meal in Chengdu. The price for a cup was RMB8. Just as I was eating, the vendor started removing the table and chairs. I was puzzled until I saw the police car parked beside the stall. I hadn't paid for my noodle yet and I was not sure how to pay him with the police watching him. Fortunately for him, the policemen drove off and I was able to pay him before he moved away. He was apologetic for what had happened.

Although the food looked very spicy, that was not the case, at least not to a Malaysian. If I were to compare it to Malaysian Curry Mee (noodle), I would say the Curry Mee is spicier
The noodle might look tasty, but it fact its flavor is only slightly spicy and a bit salty
I exited People's Park at another entrance. Across the street from the entrance, I saw a stall selling snacks. I have seen this snack on TV and decided to give it a try as it looked really tempting.

It has no fillings. It was flaky and crispy with some numbing effect.
I strolled along the nearby streets. It was lunch time. Many shops were offering hot pot with bunches of skewered food.

I saw an old woman having something what looked like stewed belly pork. It looked really delicious. The canned stewed belly pork from China was one of my favorite foods and I could not resist ordering it for lunch. The pork was served on a bed of preserved vegetable. The price was RMB16.

I had hotpot dinner with Y, my Couchsurfing host. Now, this was the authentic stuff of Chengdu, not some pretentious hotpot elsewhere which has been modified to suit local taste or hotpot without the Chengdu condiments. This was real hotpot. Y's nephew said the little pot of chilly oil should be added with salt, msg, oyster sauce, spring onion and garlic. The food which has been cooked will be dipped in the flavored chilly oil before popping them into the mouth. This will be downed with tea, beer or other beverages. The food Y ordered for the hotpot were little Chengdu fresh water fish, eel, mini dumpling, tripe, beef, mutton, sea weed, vegetable, noodle (nien gao) and two to three other food which I had forgotten.

Is hotpot hot? For hotpot, I understand that there are different levels of hotness. For our order, Y told me it was "wei la" or medium hot. It is actually less spicy than KL Curry Mee (noodle). For most Malaysians, this is not considered hot.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Final Hours in Chengdu

Day 15 (5th November 2012)

My flight was at 2355 hours. I have the whole day in Chengdu but I have run out of places to go. There were places which I have not gone but I was not keen on those places. I would take it easy today, go to the market near Xinnanmen Station for some street food and take a final look at Chengdu before leaving.

I had run out of oral rehydration salt last night but I was also feeling better today. It was cloudy and cold. As I stepped out, I realised there was a slight drizzle. No wonder it was so cold today. I wouldn't stroll too far away, to avoid getting caught in heavy rain and finding myself drenched in this cold weather. The weather did not permit me to go farther, to the street near Wenshu Monastery for some local food which I had thought of trying before leaving Chengdu.

After the street food, it was dumpling from Wonton King Dumpling King. Then I returned to the Traffic Inn. I stayed in my room, played on my Sony Xperia, checked out at about 12 noon and stayed at the lobby. Feeling bored, and seeing that the weather was not getting any worse, I went out at about 1:00 p.m.

I walked to Jinjiang Hotel to check and confirm the location of the no. 303 shuttle bus to the airport. I was wrong. I had thought the no. 303 buses were parked opposite Minshan Hotel, i.e. at Jinjiang Hotel. This was because while I was around the area in the first week, I saw many buses parked near Jinjiang Hotel. I did not see any buses there today.

As I looked around, I saw buses parked at the side street beside Minshan Hotel across the road.

I crossed back to Minshan Hotel side of the road to check and confirm. Yes, they were shuttle buses no. 303 to the airport. I have found the buses. Now, I would know where to go to get bus no. 303 to Shuangliu Airport this evening.

I explored the area a little more before returning to Traffic Inn.

After three hours at Traffic Inn doing practically nothing, I decided to get an early dinner and went to the airport.

As the bus arrived at Shuangliu Airport, I was confused by passengers who were telling the driver that they wanted to go to Terminal Two. Only then, I realised that if Shuangliu Airport is very big, the distant between Terminal Two and One would be great. I asked fellow passengers whether the bus had stopped at the terminal for the Kuala Lumpur flight. One of the passengers said yes and I got down.

At midnight, we were off. My Chengdu holidays finally came to an end.