Add:215 Shimen No. 2 Rd
Cuisine: Traditional Beijing-style hot pot
Ambience: Founded in 1903, and serving halal meat, Dong Lai Shun is one of Beijing's most famous hot pot chains. There are four branches in Shanghai. Befitting a brand steeped in history, the decor is characterized by traditional features such as large and elaborate light shades and dragons galore - whether depicted in relief swirling around door frames or painted on the pot itself. These vibrant details are offset by sober gray brickwork and plain tablecloths. Service was brisk and efficient on a weekday lunchtime when the restaurant was packed.
Who to invite: Friends, family, partners - basically anyone you want to enjoy a leisurely meal with.
Pros: It's a bustling place for a fun, sociable meal; chatting away while adding and removing tasty morsels from the bubbling broth and passing around other dishes and sauces.
Cons: To order you tick items from the menu sheet which is only in Chinese.
Recommended: Sliced lamb and beef - hot pot staples - are tender and tasty. The greens are fresh and there are plenty of things to add to the peanut sauce. Options include chili sauce, sesame sauce, red fermented tofu sauce (not to be mistaken for ketchup), chopped coriander and sweetened garlic. And if you've had your fill of hot pot, there are other Beijing specialties to try. Huo shao (火烧) - meaning "fire burning" - is a tasty wheaten roll with some meat inside, while sticky rice cake dessert lu da gun (驴打滚)- which translates as donkey rolling - is also recommended. It gets its wonderful name because the dough is shaped into long strips and rolled in soy flour, which people in the past thought resembled donkeys kicking their legs in the sand.
Don't order: Triangles of frozen tofu didn't look too promising. Did a dip in the hot pot improve matters? Not really.
Drinks: Plum juice
Cost: About 400 yuan for four