Hot pot restaurants are especially popular during the winter season when the city cools down and diners are looking for a nice hot meal. For newcomers to this style of eating, ordering at hot pot restaurants can be a little tricky, as finding the best mixture of meats and vegetables is developed through experience.
So here are nine reputable hot pot restaurants in downtown Beijing for newcomers to start their hot pot journey.
Similar to fondue cooking, hot pot is a style of cuisine in which diners select meats and vegetables and prepare their own communal meal in a large pot filled with a usually spicy broth. Hop pot restaurants are especially popular for large parties as they create a collective cooking and eating experience.
Haidilao Hot Pot Restaurant: for free treatments
Haidilao has five branches in Beijing, all which have good reputations among diners. Haidilao provides authentic Sichuan hot pot. All dishes are available in both full and half portions. But what makes dining at Haidilao a pleasant experience is its various free services which make queuing for the dishes a pleasure in itself. At Haidilao all diners are entitled to free ice water, fruit salad, melon seeds, nail care and shoe shining, and they may also play chess or cards while they wait. Another shining point is Haidilao's Lalamian (pulled noodles) performance which features a young boy pulling noodles while dancing.
Location 1: No.2 Huayuan Donglu, north to Mudan (peony) Hotel, Haidian
Location 2: No.29 Nanmofanglu, Chaoyang
Location 3: 3F, Beiao Mansion, Jia 2 Huixin Dongjie, Chaoyang
Location 4: No.2, Dahuisilu, Haidian
Location 5: 1-2F Zhongjian Erju Building, No.42, Guanganmen Nanjie, Xuanwu
Ningmeng Yezi (lemon leaves): a celebrity-owned restaurant
Owned by Taiwan pop singer and TV star Wu Qilong, Ningmeng Yezi is a Thai style little eatery featuring hot pot as well as fried dishes. Three kinds of hot pot broths come highly recommended, the curry broth, spicy and sour broth and the legendary Benz hot pot whose pot has three compartments holding three different-flavored broths chosen from an available six. After dinner guests get a free taste of the famous Taiwan dessert Hongdou Bingshan (red pea ice mountain). Ningmeng Yezi also boasts tasteful design.
Location: No.15 Xiaoyunlu, Chaoyang
Longshunyuan Spicy Pot: Spicy heaven
Hot pot at Longshunyuan is a bit different. It doesn't have as much broth as an ordinary hot pot. Diners may put whatever they like into the drier pot to fry. The combination of bamboo shoots, luncheon meats, broad vermicelli and dried beancurd sticks comes highly recommended. Diners may also choose how spicy they want their meal. Medium-hot alone is enough to numb the mouths of those with a penchant for spice. After dinner, customers are treated to corn porridge.
Some diners recommend the airport branch over other Longshunyuan branches for its amazing spiciness. Definitely try the spicy crabs.
Asian Games' Village store location: east of Beichen Shopping Center
Airport store location: No.2, Capital Airport South Road, suburb of Beijing
Huge Shark hot pot supermarket: hot pot buffet
This nice hot pot buffet restaurant features tasty hot pot broth. Diners can choose from a wide selection of materials complemented with fruits and drinks. The Huge Shark hot pot supermarket charges RMB 41 per person and there is no time limit, diners can eat as long as they like.
Location: 1F, Hongyu Building, No.7 Xueyuanlu, Haidian
Koufuju hot pot restaurant: reminiscent of old Beijing
A typical Beijing hot pot restaurant, with independent small pots, Koufuju looks much cleaner than common hot pot restaurants. Its mutton, sugar garlic and seasoning are known as the best three of the hot pot world and have attracted the patronage of many Chinese celebrities. Though the price might be a bit high, its strong old Beijing flavor makes up for it. A good place to dine with friends.
Location: No.29 Zhichunlu, Haidian
Tan fish head hot pot: eaten throughout Sichuan
As the name indicates, the most famous dish here is the fish head hot pot. Slender fish head meat melts in the spicy hot broth. Accompanying the main hot pot course are various Sichuan snacks like Couple's Lungs (cold, spicy pig lungs) and Maoxuewang (blood blocks stew).
Location 1: Building 105, Huizhong Beili, Anlilu, Chaoyang
Location 2: No. 25 Zhushikou Xidajie
Location 3: Building No.4, Yuanjian Mingyuan, Hongjujie, Guanganmenwai
Tomato hot pot restaurant: try the new
What makes this hot pot restaurant different from others is its broth, made from tomatoes and other ingredients, stewed together for 24 hours. The broth tastes quite sweet, sour and is full of flavor. Beef compliments this broth, and vegetables cooked in it don't need any extra flavoring to taste great.
The wait staff dress in costumes, with the boys wearing shirts reading 'handsome boy' and girls wearing clothes emblazoned with 'hot girl'. It's a great get-together place for young people who like tomatoes.
Location 1: No.8 Xinyuan Xili Zhongjie, Chaoyang
Tel: 010-64612345 64645678
Location 2: No.2 Dahuisilu, Haidian
Chansixian Shige (tempting gods restaurant): porridge hot pot broth
Fragrant porridge replaces the common broth for cooking various kinds of food. As the porridge broth dries, diners may ask for a free refill. Chansixian's signature dishes are a wide selection of smashed items, including smashed fish meat, smashed shrimp meat and smashed chicken. A nice place for a romantic meeting with that special someone.
Location: Building 907, Guanghelu exit, Dongerhuan
Taipo Tianfu Shanzhen Jiulou: mushroom hot pot
Taipo Tianfu Shanzhen Jiulou is among the first few restaurants to sell mushroom hot pot. Various fresh mushrooms cooked in nutritious black-bone chicken broth taste quite different. Finished off with a cup of red bitter deer blood tea, the meal is almost perfect except for the dim lighting.
Location: Building Jia No.19, southern end of Erqi Juchanglu, Fuxingmenwai
(China Daily January 4, 2007)