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China’s Mouth-Blistering Street Eats

Eat it and weep: From spicy tofu at the crack of dawn to midnight barbecue at cycle-drawn carts, round-the-clock noshing is a way of life in Chongqing.

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A group eats hot pot out of a split, or yuanyang, pot separating spicy from non-spicy broth at An Pang hot pot in an alley above Tiyu Road in central Yuzhong district, Chongqing.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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A group of friends who live in the neighborhood eat at a skewer-style hot-pot restaurant popular with locals on Tiyu Road in Chongqing. One diner at the table, who asked not to be named, said that it's one of their favorite places. "We like the atmosphere. It's a typical Chongqing place: Friends sit together and it's hot out and you all sweat together." The diner, who works in real estate, thinks that places like this won't survive as neighborhoods develop.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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Tong Su Chun has been cooking at this small, unnamed outdoor noodle cafe at the bottom of Shibati, or 18 Steps, in central Chongqing for about 20 years. His nephew manages the shop. The neighborhood was slated for redevelopment. Tong Su Chun said he didn't know what he would do after the restaurant closes. "I'll take a break," he said, "and then find something new." The restaurant typically serves about 200 people in a night, most spending about $2.50.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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A variety of pickled dishes, including beans and tofu, sit on a table at a small market breakfast stand on Songshi 1st Alley in western Jiangbei district in Chongqing. These items are meant to be added to xifan, or rice porridge.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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People wait for tables at a skewer-style hot-pot restaurant popular with locals on Tiyu Road in Chongqing.

Individual servings of meat, vegetables, and tofu are placed on skewers that diners choose to add to their table's hot pot. The restaurant, which has many favorable online reviews, often has a long wait for tables.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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Shaokao, or barbecue, ingredients wait on skewers for diners at a streetside restaurant near Shibati in Chongqing's central Yuzhong district. Patrons choose skewers of vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, and meat, which the cook barbecues and then mixes together with spices.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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Pig brains wait on platters in a refrigerator at a skewer-style hot-pot restaurant popular with locals on Tiyu Road.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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People purchase meat skewers at one of the many food stalls at Meixin Foreigner Street in northeastern Chongqing.

M. Scott Brauer via ChinaFile.

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