Pete Sweeney (more chengdu)|
Yes, Chengdu is landlocked, but that doesn't mean you can't get good seafood to cook at home, quite the opposite. Right in the middle of downtown you can buy almost anything that's in season and you can get it while it's still alive, at a price sufficiently haggled.
To get the really choice stuff, you need to get there early, around 5am, when Chengdu's restaurateurs congregate to haggle over the day's catch. Even though we are expats, we don't own a restaurant yet, so we are not so motivated. We got there around 4pm, browsed the tanks, enquired about prices (crabs were around 20 yuan/jin, lobster around 250/jin) and took pictures of the fish, the lobster, the shrimp, and so on, stepping carefully around suspicious puddles. Note: by no means wear sandals or any other open-toed shoe.
The market does not just stock seafood. You can also get turtles, frogs, butter, and giant slabs of sliced bacon. Please, please, please ignore the shark fins. If Yao Ming says we shouldn't eat them, who are we to disagree? There's also a large frozen section with calamari and the like.
Outside the market are a wide variety of seafood shacks (one of which is reviewed in this edition) at which you can let other people cook seafood for you. The prices are more expensive, but they have cold beer and loud yelling, which is good, and you can hurl chunks of shell onto the floor or at other diners, which you can't do at home.