Sicuan cuisine is ranked as one of the four major Chinese cuisines in China, along with Shandong, Jiangsu and Guangdong cuisines. As early as 1,000 years ago, Sichuan cuisine already became famous throughout China. The cuisine has over 3,000 types of dishes, with over 300 being well-known nationwide.
In Chengdu city, the dining scene has three major key divisions: snack food, hotpot and Sichuan-style dishes.
In terms of snack food, glutinous rice balls, fresh meat ravioli (long chao shou), Husband and Wife Lung Slices (fuqi feipian), and Dragon Eye Stuffed Bun (longyan baozi) are among the most famous. Such snack food can be found at every roadside restaurant and street vendor. The ideal place is Chunxi Street, where the Chengdu Snack Food City restaurant serves all local snack food at cheap prices.
Hotpot originally was a simple and hastily made dish for poor boat people to ward off cold and hunger. But a decade ago, hotpot became a high-class dish because of its numerous ingredients, and the amount and variety of meat and vegetables used - almost enough to cover a banquet. Since then, with the rising incomes of the middle class from the ongoing economic reforms, hotpot has become a way of eating for the masses. Top name hotpot restaurants in Chengdu include Lion Mansion restaurant (Shizi Lou) and Imperial City Old Ma Restaurant (Huangcheng Laoma), which has opened numerous outlets not only in Chengdu but in many other major cities in China as well.
At the mention of Sichuan dishes, one normally would think of Pockmarked Grandmas Bean Curd (mapo doufu), which is soft bean curd served up with a fiery meat sauce of garlic and nasty little peppercorns; Ants Climbing the Tree (mayi shangshu), which is thin noodles tossed with bits of spicy meat; and another dish called gongbao jiding, which is spicy chicken fried with peanuts. However, Sichuan cuisine has made another stride ahead, creating a new series of dishes with seafood, mushrooms and bamboo shoots.