Grandma X's Home Cooked Food, Chongqing
There seems to be a penchant for naming restaurants after grandmothers here or something. I couldn't quite figure out the entire name, but these guys are on the second floor of 32 Qing Nian Road (6381-2662)...just look for a lit yellow sign with a picture of some grandma in the corner. This was an unplanned visit; we were actually headed down to the other end of Jiefangbei to some place that specialized in some local "water cooked fish." But this place also had a decent looking selection, so we figured that we'd give it a shot.
Wrong move. The "fish fragrant" beef strips were a bit on the sweet side (reminding me of American Chinese food), and worse, the water cooked beef (yeah, we got the beef variety instead) was not spicy at all and lacked an edge all around. OK, that's not completely true. It was showered in some of those green peppercorns that we saw at the market today, which definitely provided a numbing effect. But it also featured a very pungent twist in the aroma that was unlike the "normal" peppercorns that I usually find in Sichuan food. And I didn't like it enough that I had to individually pluck each kernel out before I ate the beef. Most importantly though, all of that oil and chili failed to create a taste that would make one go "wow."
Well, at least it was cheap. These dishes combined with a beer, rice, and some deep fried pumpkin things amounted to only RMB 55 (US$6.80) in the end. I suppose the fact that they kept the heaters off kept the overhead low (yes, that meant keeping your coats on while dining here in the winter to stay warm, even though the tablecloths made it look a bit more upscale at first glance). Food-wise, it was a but of a buzzkill at the end of an otherwise great food trip. There were still a lot of local dishes in this city that I wanted to try, but alas, it's time to go.
BTW, this is the third local Chongqing beer that I've had on this trip, which was curiously named 1958. I guess the name is like that 1664 beer from France, but I didn't particularly care for the (lack of) taste of this one much.