Chengde is located in a fertile area in Hebei Province and produces maize and sorghum and also yields excellent local chestnuts, mushrooms and apricots. The land there are quite complex, including forested areas, grasslands, mountains, plains, hills, and valleys. This fresh produce, as well as the culinary legacy of the imperial cooks, means it is possible to eat very well here.
From the periods of the emperors Kangxi and Qianlong in the Qing dynasty, royal families began to build retreats here, including the Royal Summer Resort and Mulan Hunting Reserve. As the emperors came to avoid the heat and go hunting, Chengde combined local and royal dietary cultures with local products, gradually forming a cuisine of many well known dishes.
Chengde offers lots of unique dishes. Some of the most famous Chengde dishes include: Imperial Court Feast, Chengde Hot Pot, and barbecued meat. Chengde also has a range of famous snacks such as Chengde bean-starch noodles, Donkey Rolling Rolls, Rose Biscuits, Snow-white Imperial Noodles, Noodles of the Imperial Household, quick-fried liver, glutinous rice cakes, candied haws on sticks and clay-fried oven bread. The candied haws and other candied fruits on sticks are usually only available during the cooler and cold months.
Donkey-Rolling Roll is a long roll with stuffing wrapped in yellow rice. The Roll is served on a bed of yellow beans. The act of turning the roll on the yellow beans is just like a donkey rolling on the ground, so this kind of snack got its name as donkey-rolling roll. It has a long history of more than 200 years.
Imperial Court Feast
The dish originates from royal kitchens where especially rich dishes were carefully prepared and cooked exclusively for the royal family. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, imperial court cuisine became popular among the common people.
The banquet featured many of the world's edible delicacies from land and sea such as famous mushrooms and fungi, choice vegetables, and fruit. Quality was the key selection criteria, and only the best materials were chosen. A case in point is the preparation of the roast suckling pigs. Only piglets weighing between 12 to 13 kilos (28 to 33 pounds) were used. These had to go through a three to four day fattening process where they ate only porridge so that the pork would be tastier. Much importance was placed on the choices of tableware, rituals, and all other forms of table etiquette. Many restaurants serve Court Cuisine in Chengde today, such as Fangshan and Tingliguan restaurants.
Nansha Cake is made with flour, white sugar, vegetable oil, clover, peach core, melon seeds, etc. In Qing Dynasty, the emperors asked the chefs to make immense amount of cakes to supply maharaja of Mongolia as food for its convenient for taking. Now most of the restaurant offer Nansha Cake, which has been a kind of prevalent food.
Mutton Hot Pot
Mutton Hot Pot, also known as Mongolian hotpot, is inherited from the Mongolian roots of the Qing Dynasty. It is known for its large variety of ingredients and seasonings, such as paper-thin mutton slices, sesame jam, leek sprouts, bitter shrimp oil, frozen bean curd, dried rice noodles and fresh vegetables. When the banquet starts, diners sit around the table and put the mutton slices into the boiling soup, already seasoned to taste. Once the red mutton slices turn light brown or gray, you can eat them along with sesame jams. This cooking process takes just a few seconds, so be careful not to overcook them or it with damage the flavor, tenderness, and nutritional value of the mutton. Hot peppers and pickled garlic can be added to the sesame jam according to the personal taste of the diner.
Add: Small South Gate
Address of the three chain restaurants:
Railway Dongpo Restaurant: Chezhan Lu (opposite to the Railway Station)
Bell and Drum Tower Dongpo Hot Pot Restaurant: Bell and Drum Tower
Shidong Gou Dongpo Hot Pot Restaurant: Shidong Gou
Add: to the west of the Puning Temple
It was built to receive eminent monks in accordance with the rites of Buddhism and now there are dining rooms providing eastern, western and vegetarian foods which can serve the different demands of visitors.
Xin Qianlong Restaurant
Add: Dijingyuan Building, Xinhua Lu
This luxury and elegant restaurant is only one kilometer from the Mountain Resort and it provides meals and services of top-ranking quality. Among them Canton Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine, Beijing Cuisine, Chengde Food of Imperial Household and local dishes are especially popular.