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Archive for November, 2011

Sichuan food is one of the more famous types of Chinese cuisine. My first impression of Sichuan food was VERY oily and spicy. Yup, to make hot pot they put so much chilli oil you cannot see the actual soup but through the years I’ve grown to love Sichuan food after trying out some really good Sichuan restaurants in the UK and Malaysia which have other more delicate and less oily dishes.

As Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan and we only had a few precious days there, we planned our meals carefully and spoke to the lovely locals we met along the way who recommended where to eat. We met a local couple from Chengdu on our tour and when we told them that we were visiting their hometown, the lady stopped eating dinner and wrote down a list of places to eat.  So here’s our journey:

First stop: Long Chao Shou (龙抄手)

The translation of the name is dragon won ton or dragon dumpling but famouse mainly because they have 2 set menus where you can try Chengdu’s famous street food:

Option 1: 12 snacks for RMB 28

Option 2: 14 snacks for RMB 32

Obviously we went for Options 2!

Our 14 course lunch 😉

Was good to have tried these but in all honesty they seemed pretty stodgy. The highlights were the sweets, desserts and dumplings.

Second Stop – Kuan Xiang Zi Alley(宽窄巷子)

Translated as Broad Alley, Kuan Xiang Zi is a modernised trendy hutong (alleyways) with good restaurants, cafes, tea houses and stalls selling street food as well as handicrafts. It’s pretty much modern day China trying to be reminiscence of olden day China much like Nan Lu Gou Xiang in Beijing.

Old man smoking a pipe

Sugar craftsmen

Now on to real food –

Stalls at Kuan Xiang zi alley

Noodle stall

Taufu and fish taufu - spicy!

Dumplings

More food

Third stop: Da Rong He (大蓉和) at Shuhan Lu

The street sign on Shuhan Lu literally states “A taste of the world” (一品天下).  This road was listed in our places to eat but did not state which restaurant to visit. This road is very long and is lined with restaurants on both sides. With that much choice, how does one decide on which one is good and which isn’t? We approached some locals working in a hair salon on this street to suggest a good restaurant for Chuan Cai (Sichuan food) and ended up at Da Rong He.

Restaurant speciality - Bull catfish casserole

Ronghe Jar (various delicacies simmered in a jar)

Better than mapo tofu

This was the best meal I had in Sichuan. Everything was delicious!

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My first ever panda sighting - he walked out towards us sat down and faced us and clapped is left paw to his right foot.

Chengdu (成都) is the capital of Sichuan (四川) and is one of the largest cities in China but the main reason it is on my map is because it is the home of the giant pandas!!! My first ever panda experience was at Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Centre located a ’30 minutes drive’ from the city centre and it surpassed all my expectations of how cute they would be. They are just the most adorable, gentle and clumsy creatures on earth with such cute personalities.

We arrived at 9am which is during the panda feeding time and when they are most active-

Step 1 - Use paws to hold bambo and collect several leaves using mouth

Step 2 - Hold stack of leaves with paw and take small bites

Apparently they are not very sociable and can be ferocious but when you see these sweeties, it’s really hard to believe.

A pair of sweeties

Remarkably human like postures

Full grown pandas eat up to 40kg of bamboo leaves each day. Only found in China, Giant Pandas have a carnivorous digestive tract and can only absorb 20% of the nutrients (that’s a whole lot of poo!) so they spend a large portion of the day eating or resting to conserve energy.

The 3 stooges

Was thrilling to be able to see them (relatively) upclose

Eating so much can be tiring too...

And then on to the Sunshine nursery to see baby pandas

2-3 month old pandas snoozing in a row. Awwww....

When baby pandas are born, they are 1/1000th of their mother’s weight and look a lot like hairless pink mice. These are 2-3 months old based on their name tags and date of birth. Seems like each mum gives birth to 2 cubs which range from 67g – 150g at birth.

It's a panda's life - woken up to have his tummy scratched

Melts any heart...

We were really blessed, the weather was ideal panda watching weather (cloudy and cool) when we arrived so we saw them frolicking and playing with each other. They were swinging from the bars, tumbling with each other on the ground.

Cubs playing their mum

Cuddly and rotund looking

Other attractions at the center

Red pandas look like raccoons

Miss International 2011 contestants where there too...

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