Chinese hotpot (火锅 huǒguō 'fire-pot'), also known as Chinese fondue, is one of the most popular meals in China. It consists of a simmering metal pot with broth at the center of a table, and all raw ingredients placed beside the metal pot, so people can add and cook whatever they like in the broth.
How to Eat Hotpot
Although the flavor of Chinese hotpots varies from region to region, they have similar dining customs. Hotpot is commonly served in a wide metal pot/wok over a (gas) burner, or a recess in the table in which e.g. charcoal burns, to heat the soup in the middle of at a table.
When the broth is boiling, you may dip (quickly-cooked) ingredients in until cooked with your chopsticks (if you don't want to lose them to the communal pot).
Adding ingredients: Do not add all ingredients to the soup at once. You should add the items that take longest to cook first, like fish balls and meatballs, and then add/dip the thinly sliced meats or green vegetables.
Make sure foods are cooked through before you eat. For example the meat balls and fish balls need to float, and the raw meats need to fully change their color.
Then you can use the dipping sauces.
Most Famous Hotpot Restaurants in China
There are numerous hotpot restaurants in China. The following restaurants are the most famous brands in China, serving the most authentic flavors of their own hotpot type.
They have lots of branches in most big cities of China (including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Zhengzhou) and can be found easily. They are Haidi Lao, Huangcheng Laoma, Tan's Fish Head, and Little Sheep.
Haidi Lao Hotpot
Chinese name: 海底捞火锅 Hǎidǐ Lāo Huǒguō 'Sea-bottom Fishing Hotpot'
Hai Di Lao is a chain of hotpot restaurants founded in Sichuan Province in 1994, specializing in Sichuan hotpot.
Haidi Lao Hotpot in Beijing (Wangfujing Branch)
Address: Floor 8, Letian Yintai Shopping Mall, 88 Wangfujing Shopping Street, Dongcheng District (东城区王府井大街88号乐天银泰百货8楼)
Haodi Lao in Shanghai (Zhangyang Road Branch)
Address: Floor 6, Bainaohui, 588 Zhangyang Road, Pudong New District (浦东新区张杨路588号百脑汇6楼)
Chinese name: 皇城老妈 Huángchéng Lǎomā 'Imperial City Mom'
Huangcheng Laoma Restaurant, one of the most famous traditional hotpot brands in China, is regarded as a worthy representative of Sichuan culture and cuisine.
Address: 20 Qintai Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu. 成都青羊区琴台路20号
Tan's Fish Head
Tan's Fish Head, founded in Chengdu, Sichuan Province in 1996, is well-known for its delicious fish head hotpot.
Tan's Fish Head Hotpot in Chengdu
Address: 227 Qingyang zheng Street, Chengdu 成都青羊正街227号
Little Sheep Hotpot
Little Sheep, founded in 1999 in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, specializing in mutton/lamb hotpot restaurants, has over 300 chain restaurants in China.
Little Sheep Hotpot in Beijing (Chaoyangmen Branch)
Address: 3rd Floor, Huapu International Building, 19 Chaoyangmen Outer Street, Dongcheng District 东城区朝阳门外大街19号华普国际大厦3楼西侧
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