No trip to China is complete without trying hot pot. You start with a cauldron of boiling broth and add whatever meat (usually deli sliced), noodles, and vegetables you want. Traditionally, mutton is used, but pretty much anything you could want is available depending on the restaurant, from the mundane (chicken and beef) to more exotic fare like tripe, fish balls, and even frogs. Many places have a buffet from which you can make a sauce to dip your food in.
There are two main schools of hot pot in Beijing: Mongolian and Sichuan (though each part of China puts its own spin on the concept). The main difference is spiciness. Nicknamed “numb and spicy”, the Sichuan hot pot is infused with flower pepper. The result is intense, so avoid at all costs if you don’t like spicy food; though the pot is usually partitioned into spicy and non-spicy sections. Mongolian hot pot is simply cooked in a mild broth. It is up for debate whether it actually originated in Mongolia. Legend has it that Mongolian soldiers would boil food in their helmets.
Hot pot is very popular in Beijing, evidenced by the large number of restaurants throughout the city. Bring a friend and enjoy. Hot pot meals are known to last hours. Here are a couple of the more famous hot pot restaurants, but you can’t really go wrong.
This Sichuan style restaurant chain is famous for its fish head hot pot, a Sichuan specialty. Other exotic dishes are available too. There are several locations throughout Beijing.
Dong Lai Shun
Another chain, this is more expensive than most hot pot places. It’s a typical Mongolian hot pot restaurant, though.