Chengdu's Best Food Tours and Cooking Classes
Chengdu is the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province. Chengdu's history dates back to at least the 4th century B.C., when it served as capital for the Shu Kingdom. Artifacts from that dynasty are the focus of the Jinsha Site Museum. The city is famous for its relaxing teahouse culture, with favorite local institutions serving the same brews for generations. It also boasts a lively nightlife, with a strong showing of local partiers bolstered by large student populations. It's also popular for the food, famous both for heat and history even in this cuisine-rich culture. Another popular attraction here are the pandas, both the live versions and the plush, stuffed, cuddly kind for sale on seemingly every street. The city is home to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a conservation center where visitors can view endangered giant pandas in a natural habitat. Luckily, as Chengdu is the transport hub for the entire region, most travelers in China's southwest pass through this way and will get a chance to enjoy the different enticing aspects of the city for themselves. With so much to see, do, and taste Chengdu is a great place to experience, and there are several options for food tours to help you taste some of the best cuisine the city has to offer.
This all-day food adventure begins with hotel pickup in Chengdu and a drive to Luodai, an ancient town nearby. Small towns in the province of Sichuan are usually bursting with life, and Luodai is no different. Vendors selling fresh produce line the streets; elderly gentlemen play mah-jong inside and outside of shops; food stands fill the air with the wonderful scents of various local snacks. Spend two hours on a guided tour of this old yet vibrant town, which boasts of the largest Hakka community in southwest China. See several guildhalls with intricate Hakka architecture and stroll down the streets with the locals. Your guide will pick three or four mouthwatering local snacks for lunch. This may be anything from rice noodles to fire-cured goose to a sticky rice ball - all tasty Hakka delicacies. On the 90-minute drive to your next location, take a food-induced nap or listen to stories from your guide. You'll arrive at a Pixian chili bean paste factory, where you'll discover the secrets of making the famed doubanjiang, a spicy bean paste used in Sichuan cuisine. Then learn more at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine, displaying various culinary artifacts and books by authors known for their contributions to Sichuan cuisine. Hear many Sichuan food facts, from the historical developments of the cuisine to the trade and commerce related to this industry. Learn about technological advancements in pottery and cooking techniques and the culinary effects in art and literature, and see maps showing the subtle variations in flavor among the different areas of Sichuan. After the museum, return to Chengdu and satisfy your growling stomach with a wonderful bowl of hot pot at a local Chinese restaurant. On this full day tour, you will not only gain knowledge about the history and culture of Sichuan cuisine, you will also partake in a savory experience of the food itself.
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This half-day cooking experience starts either in the morning at 09:00 am or in the afternoon at 1:30 pm, depending upon your choice. The tour guide and private driver will pick you up from your hotel lobby at appointed time, transfer you directly to Sichuan Cuisine Museum in Pixian County. As a National AAA level Scenic Spot, Sichuan Cuisine Museum is the only dynamic museum in the world displaying Sichuan culinary culture. To start the cooking experience, you will first taste one of the famous Sichuan snacks and visit some scenic spots like Classic Collection Hall, Raw Material and the Tools Display Area. Then the Museum's bilingual guide will teach you to cook three typical Sichuan dishes to gain first-hand experience of Sichuan cuisine cooking skills. After communicating and getting professional comments from master chef, you'll get to enjoy the delicious dishes you have cooked. You will also be served with free fruit and beverage. At the end of the cooking experience, you will be awarded the "Rookie Master Chief" certificates signed by the master chef of Sichuan Cuisine Museum. Then tour guide and driver will transfer you back to the hotel and the memorable Cooking Tour ends here.
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Depart from your Chengdu hotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and head straight to a traditional restaurant that specializes in the local delicacy of Sichuan hotpot. Take a seat at your table and regard the simmering metal pot of stock in the center; throw in your favorite ingredients, such as vegetables, meat and seafood, and create a mouth-watering mixture while chatting with your neighbors. Suitably full, return to your vehicle and relax during the short drive to Shufeng Yayun Teahouse in Chengdu Culture Park for the Sichuan Opera. Feel your excitement heighten as an expectant hush descends upon the audience and the curtains part to revel an abundance of color and charisma. Watch Sichuan's rich history come to life through dance and music and become engrossed by stories derived from Chinese literature and legend. Be mesmerized by the opera's principle acts, Rolling Light and Changing Faces, and then applaud raucously as the show reaches its dramatic conclusion. After 90 minutes of enjoyment, return to your vehicle and relax during the journey back to your hotel.
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Depart from your Chengdu hotel with your experienced guide and venture to the established cooking school. Head inside and don your chef's hat to begin learning the techniques behind delicious Sichuan cuisine. Listen as your professional chef explains the complex flavor combinations and subtle spices used to create local specialties and then begin preparing four traditional Chinese dishes. Inhale the enticing aromas as you cook dishes including Kung Pao chicken, sweet and sour pork, fish-flavored eggplant and soft steamed dumplings. Inquire in advance to request to cook a dish of your own choice. After toiling in the heat of the kitchen, add the finishing touches to your Chinese feast and then sit down to devour your dishes. Chat with your fellow food lovers in the relaxed environment of the cooking school and then depart bearing recipe cards to ensure you remember your newly learnt recipes. Return to your hotel with your knowledgeable guide at the end of the tour.
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