Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Lai Tang Yuan, with its chewy sticky rice coating and sesame filling, is one of the iconic Chengdu snacks. We like to eat it in the winter time, or bring visitors who want to try something very local. We hadn't been by this section of Zong Fu Road since the previous shops and restaurants had been completely redone, including the former huge snack area, but the steam coming from a baozi stand at the door gave away the location. Inside we found a new, smaller space with marble walls and picnic style tables. Besides tang yuan, the menu lists noodles, dumplings, and most of the traditional versions of local favourites. A few people were eating large bowls of spicy mao cai. Several customers were digging into bowls of boiled dumplings in red oil or steam baskets of dumplings and steamed buns, and nearly everyone was rolling little balls of tang yuan in tahini and sugar and slurping them up. Our interest was piqued by a list of tang yuan fillings including peanut, sesame, and rose flavour, but then the server said that only sesame was available and the other fillings are sold by weight for people who want to make tang yuan at home.
Our order of tang yuan came out in a flash, too fast for it to be made to order, and was sided with a small bowl of sugar and tahini. We usually make tang yuan with a touch of ginger in the water but these were plain. The best thing about the order was the side of sugar and tahini, which provided some crunch and a great toasted sesame flavour. As in many of Chengdu's famous snack restaurants, you can order a snack set meal here for 30 yuan per person. Individual orders are 6 to 10 yuan per person.