Pete Sweeney (more chengdu)|
To those accustomed to eating with their eyes, a lot of Chinese restaurants look bland. Shu Fu Jia Yan, alas, is cut out of the same cloth as a million other restaurants in town as far as ambiance is concerned. It’s big, it’s got fluorescent lights, round tables, no music or dancing monkeys, just a place to sit and stuff your face. This is, of course, no reason not to go.
You should go because you get a glass tablecloth and a yellow napkin and a glass of chartreuse barley tea with your meal, and air conditioning blasting frigid vapor around the clock. It has a great staff of unbearably cute waitresses who are attentive and curious and seem happy to be there. It’s right next to Sichuan University’s West Gate (on the northern side) so it’s real easy to find. The food is great, and the menu has pictures (no English) so no call for confusion. Finally, the place offers discounts to those bearing student IDs, provided you don’t want a receipt. If you’re not a student, convince them you are.
The place is usually well stocked with local customers, always a good sign. And the customers are, as a rule, as curious as the waitresses, so you’ll get into a lot of conversations with baijiu-saturated clods, cute families, and Chuan Da students treating themselves to giant bowls of this and that.
Good eats: Anything with rabbit in it (tuzi), the black fungus called “wood ear” in Chinese (not the same as Wood Ear mushrooms) is best eaten dipped in soy and wasabi (jiemo). They’ve also got a selection of fresh fruit juices, including pitchers of green cucumber juice, which, um, looks healthy. There are also lots of platters of foolish-looking fish. Prices run from 15 kuai upwards. Portions are midsized. The tables are large, and the dishes aren’t very hot, so it’s a good place to bring a large crowd of friends who need an introduction to Sichuan cuisine without having to chug gallons of yoghurt afterwards.