Get to know our team, and what makes Chengdu awesome through our eyes!
Claudia Huang (pictured above)
I’m a native of Chengdu who moved to the United States with my parents when I was a child. I’m PhD candidate at UCLA and am currently in Chengdu conducting my dissertation research on aging and retirement in urban China. Check out my personal site here if you’re interested.
How do you breakfast?
Coffee or matcha, fruit, and my homemade steamed buns! Infinitely better than store-bought. Hit me up for a recipe. Sometimes I’ll take a tea thermos and a bag of grapes to the park to join the old ladies on the benches. Nothing wakes you up like a fresh dose of gossip about total strangers!
Favorite ingredient(s) at hot pot?
I love enoki mushrooms in the hot pot– they soak up all the delicious spicy broth and are a total joy to eat. But my favorite things about the hot pot experience are all the little snacks that come with it. In the summer you can get Bing Fen (冰粉), a bowl of agar-agar jelly topped with molasses syrup, chopped peanuts, and hawthorn flakes. It’s the most refreshing thing when your mouth is on fire. All year round there’s deep fried pork (酥肉) that you can either eat fresh out of the fryer or drop into the pot for a richer, spicier flavor. If I’m still hungry at the end of the meal, I usually ask for a bowl of egg-fried rice or eight-treasure porridge. The starch settles the stomach and goes a long way toward avoiding indigestion later!
What’s your go-to local beverage?
I’m a sucker for convenience store yogurt that you drink with a straw. Especially the kind with floating bits of coconut. It’s one of the few things you can get away with eating on public transportation, so it’s my favorite thing to get when I know I’m about to sit on the bus for a long time (as part of my research on aging and retirement, I sometimes sit in the back of the bus and eavesdrop on old folks.)
What is the best thing about the city you think most people miss out on?
Opera performances underneath the major intersections of the Second Ring Road. They happen every Friday and Saturday night. All the performers are retirees. The songs and dances may vary, but there’s always a band full of old dudes, a beautifully made-up auntie who graciously accepts plastic bouquets from her admirers, and a huge crowd that shows up with stools, fans, and high expectations. Go with a good friend and some good baijiu and I can promise you a good time.
Favorite pic you’ve taken of/in Chengdu
What is your favorite Sichuan food destination outside Chengdu?
Hanyuan. They have so much more than just Sichuan Peppercorn there. You can get beautiful fresh fruit right off the tree, Huang Niu Rou hot pot, and fried tempura-style peppercorn leaves. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous (take some time to walk around one of the many fruit-producing villages in the area!) and people are super friendly.
Get to know Claudia, and hear about here tales of the city, and her dancing grannie friends on our Chengdu Classics Tour!