Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
The first order of business in a hot pot restaurant is choosing the soup. This evening we opted for the half spicy and half mild soup (yuanyang guo). There were three heat options for spicy: mild (wei la), medium (zhong la), or extra hot (te la). We, like the Buddha, took the middle path. The white broth contained red dates, goji berries, and a couple slices of domestic spam floating attractively on top and a large fish lurking near the bottom. It was quality, though a little on the salty side. The red broth seasoning, on the other hand, was minimal in variety, but maximum in amount; with a few pieces of ginger, lots of dried Sichuan pepper, and a fleet of dried chili peppers crowding the surface of the pot, making us wonder how much hotter hot the “te la” soup could be.
We ordered meatballs (rou wan), goose intestine (e chang), thin slices of lamb (yang rou pian), crispy fried pork (su rou), tofu skin (dou pi), potato slices (tudou pian), enoki mushrooms (jinzhengu), potato starch noodles (tudou fen), and a side of crispy flatbread (fei bing). Fresh lily buds (huang hua) were also ordered, but were not yet in season. The spicy soup worked its usual magic on everything, making the meatballs and goose intestine particularly crave-worthy. The potato slices in the mild soup were surprisingly good. We washed everything down with Budweiser and a pitcher of warm peanut milk (dou nai).
The servers were clearly busy caring for a full house, but still found time to help us out with extras. They demonstrated cooking some of the stranger ingredients, warned us not to eat something still raw, told us to dip our cooked ingredients in sesame oil to tame the heat, and adjusted the soup temperature. An English speaking server visited the table as well, which was appreciated, and they have an English menu available. Expect to pay between 50 and 100 RMB per person.