The nightmarket on Yingzi Dajie runs through the heart of town. Stalls sell kabobs for ¥1 and other Chinese fast food, eaten at tables behind each stall.

As befits a former hunting ground, Chengde's specialty is game. The town is almost like a remote outpost of Guangdong, of whose residents other Chinese say, "They eat anything with legs except a table, and anything with wings except an airplane." Donkey, dog, and scorpion are on menus. But so are deer, shan ji ("mountain chicken" -- pheasant), and wild boar -- often as unfamiliar ingredients cooked in familiar styles. Stir-frying makes venison tough, but wild boar softens up nicely while retaining its gamey flavor.

The best restaurants are in larger hotels such as the Qianyang Dajiudian. Try lurou chao zhenmo (venison stir-fried with hazel mushrooms) and quechao shanji pian ("Sparrow's nest" pheasant slices). The Xin Qianlong Dajiudian, just south of the Sheng Hua Dajiudian on Xinhua Lu (tel. 0314/207-2222), open from 10am to 9pm, has attentive service, good portions, and a picture menu. Plump dumplings stuffed with donkey meat and onions are called lurou dacong shuijiao; 200 grams or four liang (si liang) should be enough per person. Cong shao yezhurou (wild boar cooked with onions) and zhenmo shanji ding (nuggets of pheasant with local mushrooms) are both good. As long as you don't venture into scorpion or roe deer backbone marrow, a meal costs around ¥80 for two. There's an older branch at Zhong Xing Lu 2. Dongpo Fanzhuang offers authentic Sichuan cuisine, and now runs four outlets, all staffed with natives of Chengdu. Convenient branches are located opposite the railway station and at Xiao Nan Men (tel. 0314/210-6315), a 5-minute walk east from the main entrance to the Mountain Resort. Open 10:30am to 9pm, no English menu, but the duty manager will do his best to translate for you.


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