MANDARIN LEARNER’S GUIDE TO HOTPOT
Hotpot or Huǒguō (火锅) in Mandarin is a traditional Chinese way of eating, usually a communal activity in which groups of people or friends can enjoy, socialize and eat and drink at the same time. People will sit around a simmering metal pot of broth with a variety of raw ingredient dishes on the table ready to cook in the pot.
China is often regarded as the home of hotpot, and it has existed here for thousands of years. Nowadays hotpot continues to be extremely popular around China and the rest of the world with plenty of hotpot restaurant chains. If you’re in China, it’s definitely an experience you must try. And so we’ve cooked up our Mandarin learner’s guide to everything you need to know about hotpot.
Once you get your table at a hotpot restaurant, you’ll be asked what type of soup you want in your pot. This is called Tāng dǐ (汤底) meaning soup base, and you will generally have the following options.
Tāng dǐ （汤底） - soup base
Málà guō （麻辣锅） - Spicy soup
Fānqié guō （番茄锅） - Tomato soup
Jūntāng guō （菌汤锅）- mushroom soup
Hǎixiān guō （海鲜锅） - seafood soup
Yuānyangguō （鸳鸯锅） - Two-flavoured hotpot
Most common is the spicy soup flavoured hotpot, especially in regions such as Sichuan and Chongqing where spicy cuisine is very much part of the culture and lifestyle. However if you’re like me and sometimes some chili peppers are too hot to handle, you may want to go with the two-flavoured hotpot, which is also more inclusive for everyone’s tastes.
Usually hotpot restaurants allow you to make your own sauce dish as well, and have a section in the restaurant to this. You will get a Yóudiér (油碟儿) meaning oil dish, and then select a mix of the following condiments below depending on your taste. Once you’ve done this, then you add some oil and voila, that is your sauce dish where you can dip the cooked food into for some extra taste.
Yóu diér (油碟儿) – Oil dish
Zhīma (芝麻) – sesame
Xiāngcài (香菜) – Coriander
Cōng (葱) – Green onion
Làjiāo (辣椒) – Chilli
Zhé ěrgēn (折耳根) – Fish Root
Háoyóu (蚝油) – Oyster sauce
Wèijīng (味精) – MSG
Huāshēng (花生) – Peanuts
Dàtóu cài (大头菜) – Kohlrabi
Suàn (蒜) – Garlic
Next is the best part, ordering what dishes you want, and there is such a variety, there really is something for everyone.
Diǎn cài (点菜) – Ordering dishes
Let’s get to the meat of it. All meat lovers can choose generally from the following options.
Hūncài (荤菜) – meat dishes
Féiniú juǎnr (肥牛卷儿) – Beef roll
niúròu juǎnr (牛肉卷儿) – Frozen rolled beef
yángròu juǎnr (羊肉卷儿) – Frozen rolled mutton
Xiā jiǎo (虾饺) – Shrimp dumpling
yā cháng (鸭肠) – Duck intestine
ānchún dàn (鹌鹑蛋) – Quail egg
Cuìpí cháng (脆皮肠) – Crispy sausage
Wǔcān ròu (午餐肉) – Pork luncheon meat
Qiān céng dǔ (千层肚) – Thousand-layer cow tripe
máo dǔ (毛肚) – Beef/cow stomach
niú bǎi yè (牛百叶) – cow stomach
zhū nǎo (猪脑) – Pig’s brain
xiāngcháng (香肠) – sausage
yú piànr (鱼片儿) – boneless fish slices
yú wán (鱼丸) – fish balls
yóuyú (鱿鱼) – squid
Ròu wán（肉丸） - meatball
Let’s not forget the vegetarians as well, below are some of the typical vegetable dishes on offer.
Shūcài (蔬菜）- vegetables
Qīng sǔn tiáo (青笋条) – Asparagus root
Shēngcài (生菜) – Lettuce
dòufu pí (豆腐皮) – tofu skin
Ǒu piànr (藕片儿) – Lotus root
mù'ěr (木耳) – edible tree fungus (jelly ear)
Xiānggū (香菇) – mushrooms
Jīnzhēn gū (金针菇) – enoki mushrooms, needle mushrooms
hǎidài (海带) – kelp, seaweed
báiluóbo piànr (白萝卜片儿) – White radish slices
Báicài （白菜） - Chinese cabbage
Xī lán huā （西兰花） - Broccoli
Tǔdòu （土豆） - potato
Shānyào （山药） - Chinese yam
Yùmǐ （玉米） - sweetcorn
Although rare, you can also add a bowl or rice, or add some instant noodles into the pot, to eat along with the dishes.
Mǐfàn (米饭) – rice
Fāngbiàn miàn (方便面) – Instant noodles
And lastly put some drinks on the table. There’s nothing better than a good hotpot and beer with your friends. Or for those of you who do not drink alcohol, a bottle of soy milk is equally as suitable for the occasion.
Yǐnliào (饮料) – drinks
Chá (茶) – tea
Píjiǔ (啤酒) – beer
Kělè (可乐) – coca cola
Dòunǎi (豆奶) – soy milk
Below are some of the most famous hotpot restaurants chains in all of China. Looks out for these when you want to give it a try.
Famous Hotpot Restaurant Chains in China
Hǎi Dǐ Lāo (海底捞) – Haidilao
Xiǎo Lóng Kǎn Huǒguō (小龙坎火锅) - Xiao Long Kan Hotpot
Dà Lóng Yì Huǒguō (大龙燚火锅) – Dalongyi Hotpot
Liú Yī Shǒu Huǒguō (刘一手火锅) - Liuyishou Hot Pot
Are you hungry to learn more Chinese? Well, our certified native Chinese tutors are ready? Sign up today for a free trial lesson and feel good about your Chinese language learning.