Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Every neighborhood in Chengdu has a market with booths and/or tables where you can buy fresh food and household goods. Many people prefer shopping at these markets to shopping at grocery stores, since the vegetables and meat are noticeably fresher and usually less expensive. Besides fruit, vegetables, meat, and mushrooms, you can buy freshly made tofu and soy milk, pickled vegetables, spices and seasoning pastes, oils, and dried beans.
The Yulin market, which is housed in a large two storey building, has both good quality produce and a good variety thereof. It’s kept reasonably clean, has very good prices, and is a great market for people who live nearby to shop for day to day needs. However, the Yulin market is also a destination for people far beyond the neighborhood because of the excellent prepared foods and snacks that are sold in the booths on the south and east sides of the building.
There is one place on the east side that sells crisp and delicious, freshly fried, potato chips, both numb/spicy (ma la wei) and plain salted (yuan wei). At a booth on the south side people crowd around the counter waiting for fresh northeastern style ‘lao mian bing’, round bread baked in a flat oven. One round of bread is one RMB, and you can choose sweet (tian de), savoury (xian de), or plain (bai wei) flavors. Also on the south side is one booth selling a halal version of the famous Chengdu specialty fuqifeipian, which often gets translated as ‘husband and wife lung slice’. This booth is so popular that it opens only from nine to noon in the morning and again, to lineups, for three hours in the evening. You can get crisp and delicious hand-shredded roast duck (shou si kao ya) here, and their steeped roast duck (mao kao ya) is also very popular. Just down the street, not part of the market, but near enough to be included in the same shopping trip, is some of the best known barbecued rabbit in town, Mother Wang’s.
Many of the offerings at the market are seasonal. For example, the potato chip stall sold corn cakes all last summer. Now, a few booths are selling spring rolls (chun juanr), shredded vegetables rolled up in a thin pancake and doused with peanuts and spicy sauce. When the weather was colder these places sold qiezi bing, battered and deep fried eggplant cakes stuffed with ground pork. Some of the booths that sold sausage and preserved meat in the winter are now offering cold noodles and bean jelly. During April and May there will be more zongzi (leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumplings) in honor of Dragon Boat Festival.