Perhaps nowhere else in China will one find such a diverse assortment of locally grown foods. Shaxi's low-mineral spring water, excellent soil and year-round temperate weather mean just about any kind of plant can thrive here. A walk through Friday Market reveals an amazing variety of tubers, fresh cheeses, mushrooms, wild vegetables and aromatic roots, most of which can be found in Shaxi restaurants. Here we present Shaxi's best restaurants, offering both local and Western favorites.
The Pear Blossom organic Shaxi restaurant offers authentic Shaxi local cooking in an active Buddhist temple. Our chef Madam Yang buys at Friday market and from village farms and will recommend based on seasonal fresh ingredients. The dishes are very flavorful vegetarian including fresh cheese, Shaxi baba, sweet corn with beans, omlettes, mushroom medley, shoestring potato pancake, fried homemade tofu and sweet peppers.
FIND IT: The temple is located at the head of Diantou Village on the main road into Shaxi. It is surrounded by old growth trees. Look for the sign on the road marking the village of Diantou (甸头).
Advance reservations are required! Call Sam: Old Theatre Inn
For an authentic cup of expertly roasted Yunnan coffee in Shaxi, look no further than Sloth Coffee. The recently opened shop is just past Wood Fish - another Shaxi favorite - off the South Alley from Sideng Square. The Dali owner serves artful brews and offers quiet spaces to watch people or catch up on some reading in warm, sun-filled rooms. Sloth offers great value and a chill atmosphere. Highly recommended!
Mrs. Li of nearby Jianchuan is the proprietor of the Dragon and Phoenix Halal Eatery (Long Feng 龙凤) in Shaxi old town, featuring the best Shaxi hotpot and expertly prepared local fare. Mrs. Li is a practicing muslim who keeps strict standards in food preparation and offers all kinds of tasty local dishes but her most famous is spicy Shaxi hotpot. She is the only cook, so the food takes a while but is worth the wait.
The best spot is on the sidewalk above the entrance, perfect for people watching. You can select ingredients from the display refrigerator at the entrance and ask Mrs. Li to cook them as you like.
FIND IT: Her shop is a little difficult to spot, just around the corner of the market street about 50 meters ahead, down a few steps at the end of an alleyway on the right. It is next to the post office and just before the Yunnan Rural Credit Cooperative (Bank) which is on the opposite side of the street.
At the top of Shaxi old street under the big tree, you will find a group of local ladies chatting beside a table of coold noodles and homemade peanut and chili sauces. The women of Yang family are famous for this Shaxi street food and you will find Shaxi people enjoying cold noodles at all times of the day. You can tell Mrs. Yang if you don't want chilis or soy sauce, and she will go light on these ingredients but still give you a little for flavor. The sesame paste and crushed peanuts are lovely together with her homemade sauce. There is another cold noodle table directly across the street which are also good, but the Yang ladies are the best known makers of this Shaxi street food.
FIND IT: They set their table at the top of the waterfall, top of old street at the start of market street.
Wood Fish is run by Sichuan native Winnie and her American husband Tom. There are only 6 or so seats in Winnie's kitchen where she magically prepares everything right in front of you while Tom keeps you entertained with stories of his travels. The menu is only about a dozen simple items which include a tuna salad sandwich, burger, fries, curry, spaghetti, fried rice and bean salad. All are delicious and priced very reasonably. Be sure to try Winnie's powerful green tea brought from her home in Sichuan.
FIND IT: Wood Fish tucked away, just off Sideng Square on the corner of South Tibet Alley, just before Sloth Coffee. The road winds up to the right when facing the theatre stage. Look for the wood fish in the window and the owners' pet daschund sunning himself on the steps.