The northeast quadrant of the first ring has some of the best residential food streets in Chengdu. Today I stopped by Cao Jia Alley to see what I could find. The first thing that tempted was some soft tofu (豆花), five yuan for a bowl.
The server mixed up a bowl of seasoning for me. Very good.
There were several vendors with carts doing things like fried rice or fried noodles. This bo bo chicken seemed popular, but I didn't try it:
A vendor mixing up seasoned cold noodles with rapid chopsticks caught my eye, and then what really made me take notice was the sign on her cart: 小春卷 - spring rolls! I asked for two yuan worth and when she said, "You want mustard?" I could have hugged her. She mixed up fresh shredded radish and carrot with the seasonings and added a couple of peanuts, a sesame seed or two, and a few pieces of dried tofu in the wrappers. She added a splash of vinegar at the end, after asking me if I wanted to eat them 'sweet or sour'. The spring rolls were searingly spicy from the mustard and tangy and crunchy and exactly what you feel like eating on a muggy night.
Great spring roll vendors seem to be harder to find in Chengdu than in other Sichuanese cities. I hope I run into her again.
Location: Cao Jia Inner Alley (曹家内巷)