Do you consider yourself a foodie? One of those people who’s down for trying anything? Put that sense of culinary adventure to the test at Chuan Cai Fang, an unassuming area restaurant that boasts truly authentic Chinese food. If you’re looking for egg rolls and General Tso’s this isn’t the place— but, if you’re looking to try something new, this should be your next go-to spot.
Setting the table
Tucked away on Dorr Street near the University of Toledo, Chuan Cai Fang is unassuming, with a simple sign above the door and a minimalist look inside. After being seated, you become immersed in a culture which is a hub for UT’s Chinese students. Many seemed very comfortable, chattering away over hot pots. This is a place for friends to enjoy the familiar, or for newcomers to embrace international cuisine.
Embracing the unfamiliar
When we ordered some interesting dishes— Jellyfish with soy sauce, Beef and Honeycomb tripe, Pork Intestine with sour greens, and Blood Cake in chili sauce— our waiter asked us, several times, if we were sure that’s what we wanted. He also warned us about the spiciness of the Sichuan chilies and peppercorns, found in most dishes. Admittedly a little nervous, we took the plunge.
The food arrived, accompanied by interesting and unfamiliar aromas. The blood cake in chili sauce, a hot pot filled with various organ meats, noodles, mushrooms and seaweed, was a lot for the Midwestern palate to process. The broth, the immediate star of the dish, gave way to a multitude of intense flavors, a common theme with the next dishes that followed.
The beef and honeycomb tripe, cooked with chilies and a large amount of garlic, had a similar flavor faintly reminiscent of pepperoni pizza.
The pork intestine had a sharp nose: sour and pungent. The most adventurous item by far, the jellyfish, came in a small bowl with cucumber and appeared harmless, but when I took a bite, my taste buds exploded. My tongue started tingling. At first a small sensation, the more we ate, the more the sensation intensified— mouth numbing, but tasty. Water didn’t help; it only made the spice more intense, capping an unparalleled food experience.
See for yourself
This food, not be your typical Asian takeout, has a special flare. What’s foreign to us is comfort food to others. Food has always been the one of the easiest ways to bring people together. My advice: bring friends and order a variety with a lot of intense flavors. Try new things, step outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this new and enjoyable dining experience.
3527 Dorr St. | 419-539-9329
11am-9:30pm, Sunday-Monday and Wednesday-Thursday. 11am-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday. Closed on Tuesdays