Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
On chilly days, The Chicken Soup Shop draws us like a magnet. This small restaurant near People's Park serves only chicken soup set meals. The star of the show is the golden bowl of chicken soup, which you can order with a few additions such as ginkgo (白果), mountain yam (山药), bamboo shoot (竹笋), and cuttlefish (墨鱼). The soup is not salted, though you can add salt at the table, and tastes of very good quality birds. Floating in your bowl will be a few chunks of meat, often on the bone, and you may also find feet, combs, and sundry chicken parts, some of which are suprisingly delicious. We love eating the soup with tender ginkgoes and mountain yam varieties. The traditional, rustic interior provides a perfect setting for their menu.
The side dishes do a nice job of rounding out your dinner. There is a definite emphasis on healthy food, so you get a bottomless bowl of rice topped with cooked pumpkin (南瓜饭) and can choose sides such as a mildly gingery tofu and cabbage (豆腐白菜), funky fermented tofu (腐乳), pepper and preserved mustard (双椒牙菜), spicy dried radish pickle (甩菜), cold tossed eggplant (茄子), cucumbers (黄瓜), or steamed potatoes (土豆). The server can also choose the sides for you. You also get a little bowl of spicy oil that you can use for dipping your chicken pieces, potatoes, or tofu.
Recently, we arrived well before 6:00 on a Tuesday evening and got one of the last tables in the place. Soon the server asked if we would share a table with another customer, and there was a lineup by 6:30. The place is deservedly popular and should be hopping now that the weather has cooled down. The menu is only in Chinese, but most of the set meals are 16RMB per person. Sometimes they have a chicken soup with mushrooms that is a little more expensive.