Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bite me: 自助火锅 Hot Pot Buffet

If you are a foreigner living in Chongqing and you have been invited to the mid-week hot pot dinner, you have truly made it my friend. If you're the one doing the inviting, why are you even calling yourself a foreigner? Point is Chongqing isn't called the oven city for nothing. You better be eating hot pot three to four times a week with your family, co-workers and the random foreigner you met yesterday and what better way to do it than at a 'All You Can Eat' Hot Pot Buffet.

Thing is, when in comes to Hot Pot, it isn't about eating to be satiated. It's about conversation, reconstructing the day's highs and lows, recalling memories and making new ones , coming up with new theories of life or just junk talk. In the midst of that, the last thing you want is food to run out. So this buffet is the perfect source of fuel.

The variety of raw food is limitless. Greens, meat, fungus, tubers of every kind is cleaned, chopped and ready to enter the red hot lava of a soup.

1. Mushroom 2. Black  Fungus 3. Lettuce
 4. Cucumber and Tofu Skin 5. Black Soy Bean Tofu 6. Bamboo
7. Cuts of Pork 8. Seaweed 9. Processed Seafood

Then there are the organ parts and blood, mainly pig sourced, because thou shalt not waste right:?

Or if you really, really, do want your food cooked first, don't worry. They got you covered.

Top row:  Stewed duck and chicken
Bottom row: Fried beef, cucumber, peanuts

Next important step is creating dipping sauce, vinaigrette in a sense, to add flavour to the food after it's cooked. Every time the food dipped in the sauce, the chilli flavour of the hot pot mixes in, taking it to another level.

From L-R: Mono-sodium Glutamate, Vegetable Oil, Seasoning Salt, Crushed Garlic in Oil,
Back: Black Vinegar
Not Pictured: Fresh Chopped Chive

And of course, after eating, there is always space for desert. See the small cuts of meat and vegetables are designed to keep you feeling stuffed, way back in the history of Chinese cuisine. So feel free to splurged on fruit, moon-cakes, fried peanuts and the like.