Ashley / Chengdu / Chengdu restaurants / Food

One Last Kaotu for the Road

Last night I attended my final Thursday night hash dinner, a tradition that I helped to bring back this summer and hope doesn’t die completely when I go. I chose my final hash meal to be at Zhuan Zhuan Mo Canting, also known as the juiciest roasted rabbit or kaotu in town.

Zhuan Zhuan used to be in a different location with a lovely rooftop terrace, it was the same restaurant mournfully referenced in this post, which also touches on our love for kaotu. We used to go there on nice summer evenings and order ridiculous amount of rabbit, mala “hash browns” and several other dishes who served mere supporting roles to our long-eared friend. When the restaurant reopened its doors in a (indoor only) new location we were pleasantly surprised to find that it had also beefed up its food service, moving from a simple family-style restaurant to a higher-end middle of the road Sichuan food establishment (a minor disclaimer: all photos in this post are iphone photos, crazy rain + crazy traffic= Phil and Ashley don’t go home to get nice cameras if it means traveling a father distance to do so).

I realize that rabbit might seem like an odd thing to be eating on a weekly, if not bi-weekly basis, but here in Chengdu rabbit not only graces most tables on a regular basis but the often neglected head is considered the most precious part. Considered a local delicacy, many Chengdu-ren enjoy dedicating the time it takes to work around the tiny bones involved in eating a rabbit head. Don’t be grossed out, rabbit is that good. If you’re intrigued on how to disassemble a rabbit head check out this traveler’s post here.

We don’t actually eat rabbit head at Zhuan Zhuan, its there, but our Chengdu-ren friends usually eat it before it gets one rotation around the lazy susan. We focus instead on the juicy morsels and the crispy skin.

Last night I almost ordered one of everything on the menu. We started with liang cai (or cold dishes/appetizers) including the fresh salad (above), spicy wood ear mushrooms, smoked dried spicy carrots and leafy vegetable with sesame paste. We then moved on to main dishes, veg, pork, beef, and two kaotu and finished with a “dessert” of fried sweet potato cake.

Going clockwise from 12 o’clock: Spicy mint pork ribs with fried dough, pureed pumpkin with pine nuts, stir fried wild mushrooms, spicy roasted rabbit #1, homestyle tofu, fresh soft tofu with chili vinegar, fried sweet corn kernels, spicy roasted rabbit #2, and in the middle, yummy cauliflower bacon ganguo and lots of beer. 

“Mala hashbrowns,” also known as ganbian tudousi, a crowd pleaser and a very difficult dish to get a picture of pre-consumption.

As I said, the new Zhuan Zhuan stepped up its food game in its new digs. Each dish is impeccably presented despite the fact that it gets devoured too quickly to really notice the artsy oversized plates or the drizzled sauces of complementing colors.

More goodbyes ensued and more beers were consumed to wash it down. Next up tomorrow, hot pot!

Zhuan Zhuan Mo Canting is located on 1-7 Ke Yuan Jie, 3 blocks northeast from the US Consulate. Tel: 028-61512236

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