Yan Cheng Ren Jia
We scoped out a popular spot in this neighbourhood of people who obviously love to eat out and ended up in a restaurant called Yan Cheng Ren Jia. Most local restaurants with yan, or salt, in their names are serving one of Sichuan’s most distinctive regional cuisines, from the area of Zigong, a city that grew up around the salt industry.
The kaiweicai, or appetizer, was strips of chewy and spicy rabbit stomach. For cold dishes, we chose strips of rabbit meat and entrails tossed in a prickly spicy dressing that made generous use of pickled peppers and a strangely named dish, (胭脂卷), which turned out to be curls of carrot and peanuts in a red oil dressing. We had to try their kou kou cui (口口脆), rabbit stomach cooked in a spicy broth similar to a shuizhu beef or pork. These rabbit stomachs were particularly nice, well cleaned and tender, and the other vegetables in the dish were fresh and carefully cut. The table somehow decided that with so many spicy dishes we needed to get bitter melon. The tender, green, and not overwhelmingly bitter slices fried with scrambled egg were impressive, one of the more popular dishes of the day. We also asked for (土豆酱肝), an unexpectedly fantastic dish of potato and pork liver cut in sticks and tossed in a Beijing style dark sauce.
We definitely got the impression that whoever is in the kitchen knows their stuff and is working to impress, with difficult ingredients like bitter melon, liver, and other entrails deftly handled. Our guests had specifically asked to go for spicy food, but were rinsing the hot pepper off the kou kou cui by the time they got around to that dish. Zigong cuisine is a great choice if you want to sweat, but the non-spicy dishes of the day were equally good. Our bill was just north of 50RMB per person. They often have lineups in the evening.