Guide to Chengdu Hotpot

Everyone knows that they need to try hotpot when visiting Chengdu, but few people know about the different types of hotpot the city has to offer. Take a look at the different ways locals enjoy this insanely spicy soup and the best places to find it!

Updated October 15, 2016

Variety 1: Traditional Hotpot (Huǒ-guō, 火锅)

You haven’t been to Chengdu if you haven’t had traditional Sichuan hotpot. The experience of sitting around a boiling pot of chili-filled soup, while cooking your meat and vegetables, is just as impressive as the taste. The pot of soup will fit nicely inside the table and will have its own burner to keep it boiling hot. You’ll then select from a variety of raw meats and vegetables to boil yourself until ready to eat. Locals believe that sweating while enjoying a good spicy hotpot is important to release the toxins in your body, so don’t be ashamed when a bit of sweat forms on your brow.

Traditional Hotpot Tips

1. A good hotpot always has a wait, so pick a place that has a healthy queue and a good place to sit it out (or go during off-peak times). Many places will offer free tea and snacks while you wait.

2. There are usually multiple types of soup to order which range in spiciness. In fact, some are broth based and not spicy at all! We recommend getting a pot that is split in half so you can try two different soups (and give your mouth a break from the chili once and a while).

3. Be prepared for raw food. Everything comes raw during a hotpot meal, and you’ll need to cook it in the soup. Locals use the same chopsticks for everything, but don’t be afraid to ask for multiple sets of chopsticks if you prefer to keep raw meat separate.

4. The dipping sauce is just as important as the soup. This is typically made by yourself either at the table or at a sauce bar, so you can choose the amount of chili and seasonings that you like. Don’t go too crazy, remember that the soup is going to be spicy already.

5. Always have a cold drink at hand. Trust us, you’ll need it. There is always a selection of local favorites offered including a sweet peanut flavored drink, coconut water, juices, and cold beer.

Where to get Traditional Hotpot:

Sichuan Dazhaimen Hotpot (巴蜀大宅门火锅)

This place serves all-around great traditional Sichuan hotpot. Everything is good and the soup is spicy.

What To Order:
Freshly Fried Pork (A classic Sichuan fried pork dish prepared with special seasonings and a great dish to boil in the hotpot): Xiàn-zhà-sū-ròu, 现炸酥肉
Tender Beef (Very nice raw beef to boil in the hotpot): Nèn-niú-ròu, 嫩牛肉
Thousand-layered Beef Tripe (One of the most popular dishes to boil in hotpot): Qiān-céng-dù, 千层肚
King of the Bamboo (Very tasty bamboo): Zhú-sǔn-wáng, 竹笋王
Special Duck Intestine: Jīng-pǐn-yā-cháng, 精品鸭肠
Fragrant Bean Curd (Incredible tofu to boil in the hotpot): Xiāng-dòu-fu, 香豆腐
Brown Sugar Cake (Cooked glutinous rice pounded with brown sugar, a lightly sweet dessert): Hóng-táng-cí-bā, 红糖糍粑

Address: 91 North Street (Near The Sichuan Bookstore)
Show Your Taxi Driver: 你好,请带我去巴蜀大宅门火锅(北门大桥店),青羊区北大街91号, 东珠市街西口(近四川书市)
Map: Click Here

Jincheng Impression Hotpot Restaurant (锦城印象火锅酒楼)

Along with the classic (spicy) Sichuan hotpot soup, they also make a very special mushroom soup. Both soups can come in one pot (in separate areas) so you can try both.

What To Order:
Special Beef Tripe (One of the most popular dishes to boil in the hotpot): Jí-pǐn-máo-dù, 极品毛肚
Goose Intestine (One of the most popular dishes to boil in the hotpot): É-cháng, 鹅肠
Tender Beef (Very nice raw beef to boil in the hotpot):  Nèn-niú-ròu, 嫩牛肉
Pork Ribs: Pái-gǔ, 排骨
Beef Belly: Féi-niú,  肥牛
Duck Blood (For those looking to try something very traditional and a bit different): Yā-xuè, 鸭血
Fragrant Bean Curd (Great tufo to boil in the hotpot): Xiāng-dòu-fu, 香豆腐

Address: 19 Wuhou Temple Street (Near Rainbow Bridge)
Show Your Taxi Driver: 你好,请带我去锦城印象火锅酒楼(彩虹店),武侯区耍都武侯祠大街19号(近彩虹桥头)
Map: Click Here

Four Season Hotpot 四季锅(桐梓林店)

In additional to the traditional (spicy) Sichuan soup, they prepare their own Chrysanthemum soup which can be served in the same pot (in separate sections) so you can enjoy them both. The Chrysanthemum soup is great for your health and especially helpful for digesting oily foods.

What To Order:
Spicy Preserved Beef: Má-là-niú-ròu, 麻辣牛肉
Thousand-layered Beef Tripe (one of the most popular dish you can get with hotpot: Qiān-céng-dù, 千层肚
Goose Intestine (One of the most popular dishes to boil in the hotpot): É-cháng, 鹅肠
Chengdu Pancakes (A classic Chengdu street food with your choice of fillings) Dàn-hōng-gāo, 蛋烘糕

Address: No. 9-02 Tongzilin East Road
Show Your Taxi Driver: 你好,请带我去四季锅(桐梓林店),桐梓林东路9号附2号
Map: Click Here

Variety 2: Mini-Hotpot (Maocai, 冒菜)

Maocai ingredients start the way that all hotpot ingredients do: Raw. The difference is that you can see and select them yourself instead of ordering off a menu. You’ll start with a large bowl to fill with your meats and vegetables and then they’ll take it behind the counter where it will be fried and cooked in a bit of super spicy (or not so spicy if you prefer) soup. Once cooked, the bowl is filled with the soup (and your ingredients) and brought to your table. This is basically hotpot for those that don’t have the patience to sit around a boiling pot for a couple hours, and it’s mighty good.

Where to get Maocai:

Fake Maocai (帽牌货冒菜(肖家河店))

What To Order:
Beef: niú-ròu, 牛肉
Beef Tripe (A true locals favorite in any Maocai): Qiān-céng-dù, 千层肚
Pig Brain: Nǎo-huā, 脑花
Lotus Slices: Ǒu-piàn, 藕片
Black Ear Mushroom: Hēi-mù’ěr, 黑木耳
Cold Rice Cakes: Liáng-gāo, 凉糕

Address: 肖家河中街24号(近永乐饭店)
Show Your Taxi Driver: 你好,请带我去帽牌货冒菜(肖家河店),肖家河中街24号(近永乐饭店).
Map: Click Here

Little Begger Maocai (小叫花冒菜(小南街店))

What To Order:
Beef: Niú-ròu, 牛肉
Tofu Skin: Dòu-fu-pí, 豆腐皮
Bamboo: Sǔn, 笋
Lotus Slices: Ǒu piàn, 藕片
Black Ear Mushroom: Hēi-mù’ěr, 黑木耳

Address: 君平街89号
Show Your Taxi Driver: 你好,请带我去小叫花冒菜(小南街店),君平街89号(人民公园后门,宽窄巷子旁) 。
Map: Click Here

Variety 3: Hotpot with Sticks (Chuanchuan, 串串)

Think traditional hotpot, but all of the raw meat and vegetables come on sticks that you select directly from the fridge. After you hand them to the cook, the sticks will be boiled in a large communal hotpot. The food is then removed from sticks and brought to your table ready to eat. The main difference is that the ingredients are cooked in the soup but served without soup. Depending on the place, they may even add additional spice and chili.

Where to get Chuanchuan:

This one is simple, you’ll just have to join our Chengdu Food Tour! We stop at one of the best Chuanchuan spots in the city, which also happens to be one of the oldest. The owner has been serving his hotpot with sticks for many years and the experience you’ll have enjoying it on a little sidewalk stool in one of Chengdu’s oldest community areas is unbeatable. Cold beer included, of course.

The best local food is always found in small, family-run shops that specialize in a few dishes. Join a Lost Plate Food Tour and eat where the locals eat…Book a Tour Today!