Tasty food amidst swirls of steam
This dish is popular all over China, but a real treat in Nanjing, at special Hot Pot restaurants. Inside the restaurant, rows of brown wooden tables have two rows of holes along the center, one hole for each guest. Each guest gets a special pot in that hole and will cook a chosen dish. Each place setting has a temperature control on the front of the table, so each person can regulate the cooking temperature of his/her pot.
First, choose your soup base—vegetarian, fish, meat—and whether you want it spicy or not. Then choose your meat—pork, beef, chicken, mutton—if you’re having meat Hot Pot.
Everyone gets a plate with various greens and Chinese cabbage, a few long mushrooms, pieces of tomato, strips of artificial crab, a meatball, and other mushrooms. Then your plate with thinly sliced meat, or fish, of your choice. And a small bowl of noodles.
At a counter to the side, you fill up your own small condiment bowl from a choice of chopped chiles, garlic, cilantro, ginger, brown or white sesame seeds, oils, vinegars, and various spicy red pepper pastes.
Put a little meat in your boiling soup, add some vegetables and after a few minutes, fish them out with your chopsticks, dip in your condiment bowl, and enjoy! Keep going until you get full. The pots get very hot and swirls of steam float round the guests. All a lot of fun.