Peppery Pleasantries – Beijing’s Best Sichuan Restaurants

Are you looking for a way to challenge and entertain your tastebuds? Look no further than this list of Beijing’s best Sichuan restaurants, which specialize in making your tongue tingle! If you need something sweet to cool yourself down afterward, check out Glutton Guide Beijing for suggestions!

Sichuan’s cuisine is becoming famous all over the world and rightly so. It can be spelled in many ways (Szechuan, anyone?), but comes down to two types of heats “ma” and “la”, or Sichuan peppercorn and chili pepper, respectively. These two ingredients are used to masterful effect, creating dishes that reverberate as a lip-tingling delight. There’s also a sense of adventure, like gnawing on spicy rabbit heads, and an eye for the dramatic, such as the ‘three big cannonshots’ (san da pao) – a traditional Chengdu street snack involving flinging three balls of sweet, sticky rice against a metal tray dusted with ground peanut and toasted soy. Sichuan cuisine: you have to see it to believe it.

Chuanjingban Canting 川京办餐厅

 

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This eatery run by Sichuan Provincial Government Of ce, known to all as Chuanban, is always busy and for good reason. Firstly, the location is one of the most accessible for locals and tourists alike of such provincial of ces in the city. Secondly, Sichuan food with its numbing spice have become one of the nation’s best culinary exports – no matter how it is spelled – and this restaurant serves some of the most authentic (read: spicy) dishes in the capital.

Haidilao 海底捞

 

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Open 24-hours a day, Sichuan-bred chain Haidilao is the ultimate contemporary Chinese dining experience. Waits can be long during peak times, but free manicures, shoe shines and snacks while you wait are almost as much of the attraction as the spicy hotpot. Bonus points for the massive DIY dipping sauce bars and the option of half portions for smaller parties of two or three.

Sanyangcai 三样菜

 

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Sichuan cuisine that people from Sichuan don’t complain about is a rare thing outside of the province, but San Yang Cai keeps everyone quiet. Satisfactorily spicy, the diverse menu touches on every aspect of the cuisine and you get free beer to wash it all down if you spend over RMB 100. 

Chuanren Xiang 川仁巷

For a whirlwind tour of Chengdu’s noodles, this is your stop. Though Sichuanese restaurants and Chengdu snack shops abound in Beijing, Chuanren Xiang is one of the few spots to try harder-to-find specialties like tianshui mian (“sweet water noodles” – thick noodles coated in a sweet- spicy sauce) or yibin ranmian (“burning noodles” – tossed with chili oil, toasted peanuts and pickled vegetables). Sampling a few of the 17 noodle varieties Chuanren Xiang offers is a must, but the other regional specialty dishes are equally stunning and shouldn’t be missed

Zhang Mama 张妈妈

The original location of this hole-in-the-wall Sichuan joint often has waits of over an hour spilling out into the hutong. It’s one of the cheapest, but best, meals you can get in the capital – if you’re into spice. Their no-frills attitude extends to service, and patrons are required to handwrite their order so keep the recommended ordering info on hand or ask a friendly dining neighbor.

Excited yet? Check out Glutton Guide Beijing for more delicious food! Let’s be honest: eating four or five meals a day while traveling is completely justified. 

Shanghai’s Best Sichuan Restaurants

Looking for Shanghai’s Best Sichuan food? Chuan cuisine – as Sichuan cuisine is known throughout China – relies heavily on five-alarm chili peppers and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn to create spicy flavors that have made it world famous. The climate of the region is humid and cold, so the piquant dishes warm up the residents from the inside out. UNESCO also named Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, the first Asian “City of Gastronomy” in 2010. Pungent flavors run throughout the menu, with garlic, ginger and peanuts making it into most dishes. Here are five of Shanghai’s Best Sichuan restaurants. 

Chuan Chuan Xiang Ma La Tang 串串香麻辣烫

This “mouth-numbingly spicy soup” doses its broth with 20 ingredients, including Sichuan peppercorns, fresh chilies, ginger, star anise and ginkgo nuts. Pick your soup’s fresh, raw fillers and place them in a basket where they’ll be counted up by the cashier before stewing in the fragrant broth. Don’t forget a squirt of peanut sauce and handful of cilantro to finish off your soup!

Dengji Shiyuan 邓记食园

The fact that a restaurant from land-locked Sichuan province offers one of the best crab dishes in town demonstrates Shanghai’s ability to bring together the best of the country’s cuisines and ingredients. The crab dish that makes this restaurant famous relies on the pickled vegetables native to Sichuan, and all the supporting dishes are downright delicious.

Lu Dajie 卢大姐

If the weather is cool out, it’s a great time to eat goat meat soup, considered to be warming in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Big Sister Lu brought her secret family recipe from Sichuan province and is slowly converting Shanghai’s diners. They opened a second branch in 2013. Tender goat meat stew with bones for six hours, and results in a rich, layered broth. The large soup version comes hotpot style, with vegetables, noodles and a generous helping of meat. The spicy cold noodles are also a must-order, but the whole menu features classic regional dishes that warrant a try. More info.

Yu Xin 俞信 

Since 1993, Yu Xin’s chefs shipped their herbs and peppers from Sichuan to their Beijing & Shanghai restaurants. Their water-poached fish is one of the most recommended dishes on Dianping (China’s Yelp), so don’t miss it. There’s no reservations after 6pm, so bring a book if you plan to go during peak meal times. 

Xiaochu Mian 小厨面

Straight from China’s spiciest province, Xiaochu Mian dishes up noodles from three unassuming locations on Shanghai’s east side (Pudong). In an area dominated by new malls and soulless restaurant conglomerates, the mini-chain is a fiery breath of fresh air. The noodles mingle with Sichuan peppercorns (椒 huājiāo), creating the mouth-numbing flavor of the region. 

Looking for more info on Shanghai’s best Sichuan restaurants? Download Glutton Guide Shanghai and you’ll get detailed address info in both English & Mandarin, as well as a bilingual ordering guide for all of these restaurants and more. Now you can visit Shanghai and eat like a local!