If you are traveling in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan and the hub of southwest China, one thing you can be sure of is all the delicious foods the city has for you to enjoy! Across China, Chengdu is well known as a "Palace of Food," and hot pot is definitely one dish you can't miss!
Hot pot is one of the most popular types of food in Chengdu, and it is likely that when you visit, your friends will want to share a night over this signature delicacy! As the name implies, hot pot is a pot of broth used to cook various meats and vegetables, but what makes it truly noteworthy is the trademark spice - tangy and exceptionally hot.
Originally introduced in nearby Chongqing, Chengdu's unique style of hot pot has its own outstanding features: broths with a range of spicy hotness, broths with medical herbs, Yuānyāng (鸳鸯 - Mandarin duck) hot pot, and even fish head hot pot!
If the sound of "exceptionally hot" made you shrink back, don't give up on this tasty treat just yet. The Mandarin duck hot pot (pictured to the left), named not for its ingredients but because the split pot looks like two ducks together, offers options of both spicy and non-spicy broths so you can be as adventurous as you like!
The history of hot pot in Chengdu dates back to the Jin Dynasty, when it was just a small pot placed over a stove burner in the middle of a table, humbly enjoyed by families at home. Over the years though, hot pot has developed into a dining experience no longer constrained to homes - every night of the week in Chengdu, you can find friends and families crowded into the many popular hot pot restaurants that dot the city. Even in the sweltering heat of summer, Chengdu's hot pot restaurants are unbelievable busy and packed full of people.
When you enter a hot pot restaurant, the first thing you will notice is the smell of zesty pots of broth boiling on every table. Sitting down at your table, there are a variety of options to choose from, including more common fare like pork and beef, or if you dare, something more exotic - duck intestines, ox stomach, cow tongue, and others!
Once you have dropped your choices into the pot, give them time to cook and then retrieve them with your chopsticks. Paired with the condiment options, you're sure to enjoy this array of delicious flavors. Is your mouth watering yet?
Check back later as we continue to explore the intricacies of this regional hallmark, of find your way to Chengdu for your own authentic hot pot experience!