Pasta and pizza 🌶
Chongqing people are famous for their ability to eat spicy food. Following our tradition, we let the kids pick their first dinner in every city. This time they picked a pizza place. We ordered potato pizza, meat ball pasta, chicken rice with tomato sauce, and a bowl of salad. They were all tasty but most of them were somewhat spicy. The kids were not used to it and complained a lot. In any case, we had a taste of Chongqing people’s love of spicy food.
Chongqing street noodles (重庆小面) 🌶
Although we didn't try this noodles ourselves, it'd be wrong not to include it with the rest of the Chongqing specialty foods because it is such a local staple. There are two main types of dishes: noodles with soup and noodles without soup. It is usually served with Sichuan pepper and chilli. It is also inexpensive and is generally avaiable in most restaurants and street food stalls.
Blanket noodles (铺盖面)
This is a specialty dish from Rongchang District (荣昌区) of Chongqing. The noodles are so wide that they look like blankets. You can find it in many street food vendors. The dough is premade but the noodles are pulled and pressed after you order. The soup is usually chicken based and clear. It is one of the few non-spicy foods you can find in Chongqing and is very tasty. I would highly recommend it.
Sour and spicy noodles (酸辣粉) 🌶
The sour and spicy noodles is a traditional Sichuan food. The soup is obviously sour and spicy. With the amount of Sichuan peppers inside, however, the soup makes your lips numb more than makes your head sweat. The noodles are derived from potatos instead of rice and are rather chewy. You can find many food vendors selling this kind of noodles in Ciqikou (磁器口).
Chongqing hotpot (重慶火鍋)
It would not be a complete visit to Chongqing without trying its hotpot. Our kids could not eat spicy food, so we ordered a half spicy, half non spicy pot. It’s actually not a traditional Chongqing pot. The traditional pot is shaped like a Tic Tac Toe grid where the cooking area is divided into nine sections. Since each section has slightly different temperature, people use different sections for different kinds of food. The traditional pot, however, do not have a non-spicy option.
Anyway, the hotpot was great and we all enjoyed it very much. One of the delicacies is duck blood. Not everyone will eat blood but if you don't mind it, it's a real treat. To be safe to eat, it needs to be cooked for a long time. Don't worry about overcooking it because it retains its tenderness even after cooking for half an hour.
Given the popularity of Chongqing hotpot among travellers, most restaurants offer non-spicy version of the hotpot too.
It's really hard to pick a hotpot restaurant in Chongqing. There are just too many of them. In the end, we settled for 古木枫老火锅 (洪崖洞店) and we were not disappointed. The food was great and the service was really good. I would not hestitate to recommend it to anyone else. On a side note, I was amazed that in Toronto, most Chinese restaurants had subpar service. However in China, services were great so far. [高德地图]
Ciqikou (磁器口) - Like the Wide and Narrow Alley in Chengdu, Ciqikou is a street filled with local restaurants and shops. Shops that sell sour and spicy noodles (酸辣粉) will usually have a performer in front of the store singing while making the noodles. It was quite a sight to see.