with so many dierent types of broth bases, ranging from spicy, yuan yang (half and half) and pure fresh (no spices), and as well as regions (Guangdong seafood, Beijing mutton, Zhejiang chrysanthemum and Sichuan spice) not to mention the varieties of dipping sauce, choosing is not always easy. Lifestyle presents a few of the more exciting ones you might not have tried, and where to find them.
What? Instant boiled mutton(shuanyangrou) Where? Donglaishun, Dongcheng.
Why? They may be a well-known chain, but in Beijing that means a 100 years' heritage rather than same-old, same-old. Founded by Di Deshan, a Hui minority man who once peddled in Xindong'an market, Donglaishun is very particular about its mutton. The meat is frozen before being sliced so finely that Henry Kissinger described it as "thin as a piece of paper, neat like thread and beautiful as a flower." Or was he talking about Nixon?
Donglaishun uses a specially designed copper pot, with a wide middle and space underneath so the charcoal maintains the heat without causing the soup to bubble over.
For locals, dipping sauce is the key factor. Donglaishun has its own factory to make theirs. Sesame paste, fermented bean curd, pickled chives, shrimp sauce and spicy oil are all on the menu. Xie Chun, 27, who has lived here for the last five years, is a self-confessed "hotpot fan" who commented to us that "the sauce smells and tastes good, like a mix of salt, spicy, savory and fresh, and the dried shrimp and mushroom soup really kills the smell of mutton." That can only be a good thing, surely.
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