Hangzhou is in no shortage of Hot Pot restaurants, with every style from regions across China, but one overlooked variety worth trying is Beijing’s. Along with a few extras specials, Nanxincang serve up an authentic northern Hot Pot experience. The look of the restaurant adds to that authenticity, with traditional wooden arches and red lanterns, but most eye-catching is the colourful pots on every table and shelf. It’s certainly different than the metal pots that we’re used to, and we loved that each person got their own individual pot, so your whole table’s not stuck with the same broth.
The broth is one of the main differences between Beijing hot pot and others, it’s flavoured only with very subtle fragrant hints, so as to only compliment the flavour of the meat, instead of covering the taste with spices and herbs. Although this broth is their signature, they keep everyone pleased with two other choices, including a spicy Sichuan variety. Aside from the broth, the other key component of any Hot Pot is the sauce; so instead of mixing our own and most likely ruining it, we went with their Traditional Sesame Sauce (6RMB). The sauce is a combination of more than 20 ingredients which works generally well with just about anything, and just for a little bit of added luck, it comes with the character “福” thoughtfully written on top.
After we got our pot’s boiling, it was time for my favourite part, adding the meat. The menu features a range of lamb and beef, all thinly sliced, prepared so that it cooks within a few seconds as you keep hold of it with your chopsticks, known as 涮肉. The first of these we tried was the Yuanbao Lamb (元宝肉 48RMB), a tender cut from the tendons of the hind legs, we could really taste the freshness and quality of the meat. We also enjoyed the Lamb Ribs (羊肋肉 44RMB), and Fatty Beef (精品肥牛 40RMB). Aside from meats, there is also a nice selection of seafood and fish, including Sole Fish (龙利鱼 28RMB), as well as fish and meat balls, and the usual range of vegetables and side dishes.
Nanxincang had one surprise up their sleeves, the Lamb Spine Stew (羊蝎子 188RMB). Gloves are a requirement for eating this, and the portion size is good for a group to all dig in together. The chunks of lamb are cut from the area around the neck, and after slow cooking become tender and juicy, falling right off the bone. The stew, with a strong aromatic flavour, is a great accompaniment to the hot pot, which is more mild in comparison.
No hot pot experience would be complete without a few drinks, and they’re all reasonably priced, including imported beers (25RMB), Draft Carlsberg (18RMB/Pint), fresh juices, and soft drinks. Chinese menu only. Smoking permitted. Street parking available.