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Xiang Tian Xia
2/F, Building 1, Fashion Mark, 51 South Sect. 4th, Ring 2nd Rd.
8703 7188

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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)
Xiang Tian Xia is a well-regarded local hot pot chain which shot to fame last year when the prime minister of England dropped in for the hot pot experience. There are several locations around town, and we chose the newish Hong Pai Lou branch to check out. The expansive dining room is nicely set up with wooden tables and chairs and copper hot pot wells in the tables. They have two choices of soup, full-on spicy red or a yuanyang style with mild soup on one side and spicy on the other.

One of their specialties is Duck Intestine draped over a rack (挂面鸭肠), which we saw going out to nearly every table. Their Spicy and Numbing Beef (麻辣牛肉) is another popular order. We asked for an order of Fried Crispy Pork (酥肉), which arrived fresh fried and hot and could be enjoyed as an appetizer eaten straight or dunked into the hot pot, where the crispy coating soaks up spicy goodness. The Cilantro Meatballs (香菜丸子), a reported favourite of the prime minister, are a very popular choice as well. The vegetables were fresh and nicely presented, with Organic Mountain Yam and pea shoots in the white soup almost making us feel like we were eating health food.

The consensus when we started eating was the soup could have been spicier, but after the soup and its seasonings had been bubbling for a few minutes, the flavours really started to come out. We got an order of peanut milk to tame the heat. The servers were quick to come over when called to clear plates or adjust heat to the pot. After digging all of the good stuff out of the soup, the mild side of the pot had concentrated into a fantastic savoury broth that we drank bowls of to tame the heat. The usual price is around 70RMB per person, but they often run groupons and specials; there was a WeChat promotion the night we visited that knocked our bill down to less than 50RMB per person.

Xiang Tian Xia
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