Chongqing has two famous dishes: hot pot and noodles (and other dishes, but they are mentioned far less often than these two). Hot pot restaurants can be seen everywhere, but they are fairly easy to figure out. The broth is either clear or spicy (usually spicy), and then you pick what you want in it. Noodles are a bit more confusing though, especially if you don’t read Chinese as most noodle restaurants don’t have pictures in their menus.
This is why I have compiled a few of the most common noodle dishes you can find in Chongqing. Give them a try!
But first a quick glossary to show you how noodle dish names work in Chongqing. Essentially the name includes the ingredients. If the dish has chickpeas in it, it most likely has the character “wan” 碗 somewhere in it. Other characters to look out for are 牛肉 (niurou, beef), 杂 (za, minced pork), and 抄手 (chaoshou, a type of dumpling that got its name from its shape resembling folded arms). I will be showing the different noodles that include these characters.
As for the noodles themselves, there are usually three different types. The default 面 (mian) refers to wheat noodles. If you want rice noodles you can ask for 米粉 (mifen), and many noodle restaurants also offer 刀削 (daoxue), which refers to a thicker, hand-shredded wheat noodle (my favorite!). If you want your noodles fried, it is 炒面 (chaomian) instead of regular mian. There is also 凉面 (liangmian), or cold noodles for that hot summer day. If you are not fond of spice, you can ask for 清汤 (qingtang), which is a clear soup devoid of peppers. If you want spicy, either ask for pepper 辣椒 (lajiao) or 红汤 (hongtang), which refers to a red soup full of peppers.
Seem complicated? Essentially just choose what type of noodles you want (goes at the end of the dish name), if you want it spicy or not (yao/bu yao lajiao), and then pick what you want in the dish! But anyway, let me show you some pictures (all taken from Yahoo image search) of the most common noodle dishes in Chongqing. Bear in mind that every restaurant has its own recipes, so you might have to do some searching before you find your favorite! Prices are in Chongqing, eating the same dishes in, for example, Shanghai is most likely more expensive.
I hope these pictures made you want to try some of Chongqing’s noodles! The locals eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are the local cheap fast food. I will post more about food in Chongqing, so stay tuned!