SIMMERING all your favorite ingredients in a hot pot with friends and family not only warms the stomach in winter but also the heart.
With thinly sliced meat, fresh seafood and an abundant selection of veggies and starch, this do-it-yourself cuisine has a history going back more than 1,000 years and has developed different styles with strong regional characteristics.
The No.1 choice for most people is spicy hot pot from Sichuan and Chongqing. New restaurants are constantly opening and can be found in most neighborhoods, so finding a decent one serving authentic spicy hot pot is an easy task.
However, some restaurants like to offer something a little different, showing that there’s more to hot pot than dip and stew. Here are a selection of options for hot pot with a twist.
Hot pot’s signature feature is the rich flavor and texture, and sometimes broth with too much heavy seasoning can hide the original taste of the fresh ingredients.
But if you are looking for something light to the palate and healthier as well, organic hot pot outlets can be the perfect choice.
Qimin Organic Hotpot
With the slogan “from farm to table,” this hot pot restaurant opened by Yuen Foong Yu Biotech Company from Taiwan uses hearty organic food from its own farm.
This upscale hot pot restaurant used to be on Shaanxi Road N., but is moving to a new location, currently being decorated, in Reel Mall on Nanjing Road W.
Qimin also has another outlet in Takashimaya Shanghai which serves a different and more affordable menu.
Diners can choose from five different broths, like the spicy beef bone broth and chicken broth with Jinhua ham.
Prime sliced meat, seafood, organic vegetable and mushroom platters are highly recommended. The menu also offers appetizers like Taiwan fried salty chicken.
Atmosphere: Elegant and fun. The open kitchen also has bar seats and service is attentive.
Average price per person: 130 yuan (US$20)
Address: 07-04 Takashimaya mall, 1438 Hongqiao Rd
This hot pot restaurant is also a gourmet organic grocery store.
The menu provides set meals as well as a la carte hot pot. A set includes sliced meat, a large portion of organic vegetables, an egg, rice and sauces.
Mahota has its own farm on Chongming Island. Adhering to the farm to city ethos, all the fresh vegetables are delivered to the restaurant daily.
The individual pots used here are made of glass. Mahota also offers a list of organic drinks and juices.
Atmosphere: Relaxed and natural
Average price per person: 100 yuan (US$16)
Address: 680 Huaihai Rd W.
Similar to Mahota Kitchen, Big Housekeeper also sells organic produce — including grain and fresh vegetables.
The hot pot menu only offers set meals and tables are limited. A set is priced at 98 yuan and includes broth (chicken or tomato), a plate of thinly sliced pork, tofu, pumpkin, vegetables and mushrooms, a drink, a choice of rice or noodle and self-service sauces.
The tofu is highly recommended, as you can really taste the strong flavor of soybeans.
It can also be purchased to take away, priced at 2.5 yuan per block.
Atmosphere: Relaxed, but the number of tables is limited.
Average per person: 100 yuan (US$16)
Address: 397 Wuning Rd S.
Meat Lovers’ Paradise
Mutton is the perfect meat for winter, as there’s nothing that beats the cold like Mongolian hot pot — “instant boiled mutton.”
Though lamb and mutton are not usually found on Shanghai menus, they are the main ingredients in Mongolian hot pot.
Boiling mutton slices in hot broth and then dipping them in sesame sauces is the easiest way to enjoy the original flavor of the meat.
In addition to instant boiled mutton, lamb spine hot pot is also popular. The recorded history of this dish dates back more than 300 years.
Fans say it’s delicious, nutritious and very low in calories.
This is another restaurant serving Mongolian hot pot. Its mutton rolls and hand sliced mutton are must-try fare. Help yourself to the sauces.
Average per person: 110 yuan (US$18)
2/F, 865 Sichuan Rd N.
Rm 101, Bldg C, Lane 463, 28 Jinhui Rd
Old Beijing Lamb Spine Hot Pot
This is the most popular chain restaurant in Shanghai serving authentic lamb spine hot pot. There are a total of 17 outlets.
Handmade noodles and Chinese cabbage are typical dishes usually ordered with the lamb spine hot pot.
Average per person: 90 yuan (US$15)
1 Guoding Rd E.
102 Shuichan Rd W.
813 Meichuan Rd
403 Zhiyuan Rd
Beijing Hot Pot
Beijing Hot Pot was originally named Dong Lai Shun, the oldest and most famous hot pot chain and a time-honored brand that dates back to 1903.
Currently, the brand has four restaurants in Shanghai.
With coal-heated cloisonne enamel pots filled with boiling mild broth and plates of thinly sliced mutton stacked on every table, this hot pot chain is most definitely a winter warmer. And its sweet and sour plum juice is the perfect drink to accompany Mongolian hot pot.
Atmosphere: Casual, traditional
Average per person: 90 yuan (US$15)
Rm 223-228 Tengfei Building, 333 Tianyaoqiao Rd
3/F, 776 Huaihai Rd M
4/F, 300 Xuanhua Rd
5/F, 579 Zhangyang Rd
If you are tired of traditional hot pot, these restaurants have something a little different to offer.
Opened this year, this restaurant serving individual hot pot near Fuxing Park is known for its laksa and curry options.
The pickled fish hot pot is also a popular choice among diners.
Manager Long Yujie says all the meat is flown in from Qinghai Province.
“There are too many restaurants doing traditional hot pot, our idea is to have something new,” he said.
Snakehead fish slices are the most popular dish here.
Average per person: 120 yuan (US$ 20)
Address: 105 Yandang Rd
Xiangcao Yunnan Hot Pot
This is the place to go for hot pot featuring Yunnan Province specialties. Mushrooms are among the most important ingredient, and the specialty broth here features various kinds of fungi.
Tofu from Jianshui — a county in Yunnan province — is also a specialty here.
Atmosphere: casual, the decor has strong regional characteristics
Average per person: 120 yuan (US$20)
4/F, 988 Zhaixi Rd
4/F, 568 Songjiang Rd M.
3/F, 318 Mudanjiang Rd
Hot pot is renowned for being an affordable delicacy. But if you fancy something a bit more upscale there are also luxury hot pot options.
Hot Pot Sun
Located in the upmarket Xintiandi shopping and entertainment complex, Hot Pot Sun is known for its gourmet hot pot made with high-quality ingredients.
Beef from Dalian is a popular dish here, as well as the seafood flown in directly from Guangdong.
The private rooms upstairs are perfect for large groups.
Hot Pot Sun also has a store in Xuhui District.
Atmosphere: Elegant, upscale fine dining
Average per person: 700 yuan (US$112)
376 Huangpi Rd S.
1 Yueyang Rd
Faigo Hot Pot
This upscale hot pot restaurant chain that specializes in fresh seafood imported from Hong Kong.
The menu offers high-quality meat, vegetables and a wide selection of soup bases.