Hot Pots & Noodle Bowls in China

Perhaps the most iconic of all the wonderful and rich varieties of authentic Chinese cuisine, the hot pot has a history of more than a 1000 years. Popularly known as Shabu Shabu, the hot pot is normally placed on a gas burner in the center of the dining table, as the spiced water in the pot constantly boils. One has to then drop various vegetables and meats in the water and let them “cook” before serving some to yourself in individual smaller bowls. However, there are variants of the hot pot served in China, which are all unique in their own way. Hot pots are the perfect combination of spice, protein, solid and liquid, and often give you that feeling of satisfaction when you are done eating them. Most hot pots are not vegetarian, but with a polite request, they could be made vegetarian. There are two things that you have to watch out if you want a vegetarian hot pot, one is the water/stock being used, and second are the ingredients which go into the pot. It may be helpful to ready my post on how to order vegetarian food in China, which will help you navigate the food area while living in China.

1) Northern Style

Following is a Northern style noodle bowl served at the airport in Beijing. It is completely vegetarian with no eggs or non-vegetarian broth.

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2) Chongqing Style

The next one is my favorite, a Chongqing style hot pot  at a restaurant just south of Dalian Friendship hotel (see map below). This hot pot is spiced with a special black pepper from Sichuan province of China, which makes your lips go numb. The server brings a pot of spiced boiling water and ingredients to your table, and then you have to mix everything together and let the vegetables cook.

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        (menu card of the hot pot restaurant)

3) Korean Style

Next is a Korean hot pot, on Renmin Lu in Dalian, near Zhongshan square (see map below). There are lots of Korean restaurants in this area, and hence the hot pots come with lots of typical Korean side dishes. The hot pot here was very spicy and the broth itself was red. Another interesting dish was a spicy red sauce and pasta-like rice tubes, also quite spicy.

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4) Ice Cold Style

Another Korean classic, a noodle bowl which is cold, served in a steel bowl with steel chopsticks. It has a sweet water-based broth with noodles, cucumber, veggies and eggs, all ice cold and a little spicy at the same time. An interesting experience.

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                   (brown noodles are made of wheat)

5) Northern Style without noodles

In the city of Dalian, there is a restaurant on the second floor of the Dalian Friendship Hotel on Renmin Lu near Zhongshan Square. This place serves some of the most amazing local Dalian food. While seafood options are abundant, the picture below shows a Northern Style vegetable hot pot with veggies and tofu, but no noodles. It was somewhat bland, but they had all kinds of hot sauces to transform this pot into something flavorful.

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6) Breakfast Style

Not quite a hot pot, the picture below is breakfast meal in the city of Guilin, China. Noodles with some eggs and no spicing or soup/broth at all. It was very bland for my taste, but a unique meal.

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Do you have pictures or information on any interesting hot pot dishes that you came across?

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Area map of Dalian hot pot places:

hotpot dalian map

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2 thoughts on “Hot Pots & Noodle Bowls in China

  1. These all look very good! I’ve only had Japanese hot pot (shabu shabu) and the broth really has no flavor to it because the meat and veggies are dipped into a goma or ponzu sauce after cooking. The Korean ice cold one looks intriguing, although it might take a little getting used to. I imagine it must be very refreshing in the summer.

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