Thanks to fellow Chowhound James G for showing us some terrific food. Went to Noodle Loft, Three Guizhou Men, Zi Shia Sichuan Restaurant, and Xinjiang Muslim Restaurant. The last two are hole-in-the-wall places on Xinzhong Jie near the Workers' Stadium.
At Noodle Loft, had three types of noodles. Long pulled noodles in a vinegary sauce, flicked noodles ja jiang mien (bean paste sauce), and in a kind of honeycomb pattern with a fatty meat sauce. All the sauces were exceptional. We also loved the lotus root (served thinly shaved), and a stir fry featuring walnuts. Excellent wok skills.
At Three Guizhou Men, tried a large variety of items and had great success. Particularly loved the fried ribs and a fried eggplant dish, featuring sticks of eggplant that were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Everything was beautifully presented and carefully prepared. Sensational.
Had an outstanding bowl of shweiju (fish boiled in oil) at the Sichuan restaurant. This was the only place we ate where some of the offerings could be duplicated in my hometown near Washington, DC. In fact, I have an even higher regard now for the really good Sichuan options that have come along in the DC area.
Maybe the meal I adored the most was at the Muslim restaurant, where you see this type of food often but never done so well. Lamb and bread in a spicy red sauce, lamb and bread dry fried, and tender skewers of ribs, lamb, and chicken wings. A salad featuring cucumber and tomato. Impossible not to love this food.
Ate at the Chowhound favorite Ji Shi (sign on the restaurant says "Jessee") at 41 Tiangping Lu in the French Concession. Amazing wild herbs and tofu dish, my favorite item of the trip. River shrimp very tender and ordered the dates stuffed with glutinous rice. This place is the perfect Chowhound selection. I could see eating all my meals here.
Yang's Fry Dumplings are incredible. Ate at Wujiang Lu locale. In the August heat, you had to be nuts to sit inside a hot place slurping down a sizzling bowl of freshly fried dumplings. But the best kind of nuts.
XLB at Jia Jia (Huanghe Lu location, around the corner from the Park Hotel). Tried both the pork and pork/crab combo. Very good, of course, with the pork/crab dumplings having more flavor and a more savory soup. Dissapointed in the pork ones which had a relatively boring chickeny broth, though I didn't order the pork and chicken combo. Although the "XLB" at Joe's Shanghai in NYC are not Xiao (little) at all, they are a more potent foodstuff to be reckoned with.
During a nine-day trip from Lanzhou (Gansu Province) to Songpan (Sichuan Province), ate exclusively at places with no English menu and no English spoken, although that was on purpose. So I don't have much in the way of names. But i did want to mention two very worthwhile experiences.
In Jiuzhaigou ate at a Night Market, located on a side street about a block away from the Sheraton in the other direction from the Scenic Valley. A series of stalls with seating all featured Qiang-style bbq. Ate at the last stall on the street and had a light and highly enjoyable selection of yak, beef, dried tofu with herbs, potato, and greens, all brushed with a thick, spicy mixture before grilling. Two of us ate for 13 yuan.
In an area called the Sangke Grasslands near Xiahe (Gansu Province), there are two tented Tibetan places to eat. Ate at the 'fancier' first one. Had momo (yak soup dumplings), sambar (a kind of flour mixed with water, sugar, dried yak butter), yak yogurt, and a cumin sheep dish. All the food was exceptional, with the momo and the yak yogurt being truly astonishing. Had yak yogurt elsewhere not nearly as good, so this was a revelation.
There is no touristic reason to go to Lanzhou, which is a pretty awful place. Only a jumping off point to visit the region. But there are noodle shops everywhere there, serving Lanzhou La Mien in a spicy broth. Makes a fantastic breakfast.