The best hotpot in Beijing

Stay warm this winter with our top spots for this local favourite

Yijiaren
Chinese food is well-known for its communal dining style, of which hotpot is the zenith. Although some fast food joints now offer individual bowls for solitary dunking, hotpot really is an occasion for gathering friends around a bubbling cauldron. With the mercury adroop for the winter months, warm up with one of China’s many hotpot styles, all of which can be found in Beijing.

Red Bowl

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Leave it to the ultra-luxe Rosewood Beijing hotel to turn one of the most basic winter warmers into a sleek, up-market affair. Red Bowl is the Vogue-ready version of what is often reserved for the drunken small hours of the morning, but don’t let the chic crimson decor and attentive service fool you: this is a full-on good time. What Red Bowl might lack in dismissive wait staff, it makes up for in platefuls of plump tiger prawns (78RMB), ribbons of top-shelf organic lamb (68RMB) and fresh, local veggies (48RMB) from its partners in provenance. A more dignified hotpot experience is not easily found in Beijing, and with no service charge and daily deals, elevating your hotpot doesn’t mean depleting your bank account.

Diancaoxiang

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The rugged inhabitants of Yunnan make good use of the bounty from their jungles and hills, filling their hotpots with sour lemongrass and fiery chilli. Diancaoxiang turns the atmos up to 20 with its exorbitantly themed restaurant in Sanlitun, which feels like you’re sitting in the most lavish of Yunnan jungles. The hotpot here is no casual affair – drips of broth and sauce all over the table might fly as collateral damage elsewhere, but at Diancaoxiang it feels blasphemous.

Yijiaren Hot Pot

sichuan hotpot

The classics have their place for a reason, and the pungent fragrance of chilli oil and subtle tingle of Sichuan peppercorns that permeate every corner of a steamy hotpot restaurant (and your mouth) have no substitute. If that’s what you’re after, Chengdu-based Yijiaren has got your number. With a decor and layout designed to mimic the winding alleys and manor houses of the old city and a menu offering the full spectrum of broths – from sweet tomato to proper Sichuanese face-melting heat – it’s hard to go wrong at this local favourite

Haidilao

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Probably one of the most popular hotpot chains in Beijing, Haidilao is famed for its service as much as its food. Expect free fruit platters, board games, manicures, shoe shining and more to keep you occupied in the often-long queues, while tableside entertainment comes by way of skilled noodle-flingers wanging around the hand-pulled mian to some wild beats.

3 to try: other Asian hotpots

It’s not just China that enjoys some tabletop cooking. Other countries in Asia all have their own versions of meat and veg in broth, all with different flavours and styles. Try these three to get you started.

Thai Thai hotpot springs from the Chinese tradition, but with the addition of coriander and lime, tasting much like the Yunnan variety. Unlike Chinese hotpot, however, the Thai often serve their jimjum with an egg yolk to dip the meat in.
Get it at Klerm.

Japanese Like China, Japan has many different styles of hotpot. The most popular is sukiyaki, which is made of sliced beef and vegetables in a sweet soy sauce. The bits and pieces are then dunked into a raw egg mixture before being eaten; with barely blanched beef and raw eggs on your plate, this is one to avoid for the pregnant.
Get it at Saboten.

Korean The most famous Korean hotpot is budae jjigae, known as 'army stew', so-called because of its warming, energising properties, handy for facing life and death on the frontline. There is, naturally, plenty of kimchi. There is also a ram-packed meal of sausages, noodles, spam and veg. Not for the simply peckish.

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