|Old Courtyard Restaurant
|12pm - 9pm|
|31, South Sect. 1, 1st Ring Rd. (near the Sichuan Conservatory of Music)|
|028 8545 8844|
|Comments (Add Comment)|
Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
A lot of family-run restaurants in Chengdu serve up marvelous food, yet lack any real character. If you’ve been here any length of time, you’ll know what I’m referring to: unadorned walls, nondescript tables with plastic tablecloths. After a while, it leaves you craving some genuine atmosphere to accompany your noshing. Enter Old Courtyard Restaurant, a barely standing, wonderfully traditional hole-in-the-wall that serves up reasonable classics in an environment that is unmistakably Chengdu.
The crumbling courtyard wall serves as the backdrop to several beer-ready tables, but pass through the lanterns and shingled roof and you’ll find a dining space that could have been pulled straight out of 1937. The floor is cobbled-stone, the high ceilings are supported by aged wooden beams and in the far corner, a tree disappears straight out of the roof. Local hands chat away at square four-top tables, though bigger parties can be accommodated with a little effort.
The food, chosen off of an attractive Chinese-only menu is very good, without being spectacular. The local-style fish (风味鱼 fēngwèi yú, RMB30) was fresh, soft and not overly spicy, though the other specialty dish we tried, pao jiu san rou (20) was a little fatty and unexceptional. The xiang jiang tofu (14) was excellent, tasting similar to that foreigner favorite: jia chang tofu, and the greens were skillfully managed, pleasing our party’s vegetarian. Best yet was the dry-fried sliced potatoes (gānbiān tǔdòusī 干煸土豆丝, RMB10). They’re China’s answer to French fries, which managed to balance the spice and crispness meter in a manner so delicious that we had to order seconds.
Cold beer is available, and the staff, whose comprehension of our poor Mandarin was strained, were, nevertheless extremely friendly. Expect to pay between RMB20-30/person.