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San Zhi Er
11:30am - 10:30pm
Three ear buildings, 10, Nijiaqiao Rd.
028 8556 2588, 11:30am -

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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)
“That is the face of the fish, and its brain. Take out the eye, and eat the rest, it's really delicious!” instructed the ayi who had just placed the choice morsel on my plate. We were making our way through the first round of a meal of cold pot fish (冷锅鱼). Diners dig into the fish as a first course, and then once the fish is eaten ordering proceeds as usual for hot pot as other ingredients are cooked in the broth. Skill and patience are required to extract the flesh and other delectable parts of the fish from the non-edible parts, but the efforts are rewarded.

Making the rounds of Chengdu's top hot pot houses would eventually bring one to San Zhi Er, where cold pot fish is the most popular order. They are also well known for their tomato based broth. We had ordered the soup yuan yuang style (鸳鸯锅), with two kinds of soup, so we could try both types of broth. The tomato based broth complemented the fish surprisingly well. Their spicy soup we noted used more fresh seasonings than most, with fresh peppers and aromatics lending their flavour to the fish and the supporting cast. Although we usually end up dumping 80% of the ingredients into the spicy side of the pot, we found ourselves really enjoying the tomato broth's way of transforming ingredients such as tofu skin (豆皮), mushrooms (蘑菰), and fatty beef slices (肥牛肉). From the snacks menu we ordered some very good, piping hot pumpkin and sticky rice sweets (南瓜饼) and sesame sticky rice balls (芝麻球).

The servers were quite poker faced but gave us a lot of assistance, portioning and dishing out the fish at the beginning and repeatedly clearing away piles of bones and refreshing plates and bowls as we worked our way through the feast. The bill is usually upwards of 50RMB per person, but they often have specials so it's worth checking your favourite tuan gou site.

San Zhi Er
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