We spent 3 weeks in China for our honeymoon, and it was the most wonderful trip you could imagine!
Upon our arrival in Beijing, my friend who works in China picked us up, checked us into our hotel, and took us out for dinner. We ended up at Xiabu Xiabu, a hot pot style chain that offers completely customizable hot pots that are both healthy and delicious. The only problem is that the menu is entirely in Chinese, doesn’t contain images, and the waiters really don’t speak anything but Chinese either. Thankfully we had my friend to navigate the order form, which is basically a checklist of all the offered items, for us:
Hot pot, or huo guo, basically consists of broth kept boiling hot in the center of the table (in China, a table orders a bunch of dishes, and everyone shares everything), and a variety of raw ingredients that you boil in the broth to your liking and then eat with dipping sauces. We went with a hong tang, or clear, mild broth. For ingredients we chose various types of mushrooms, prawns, spinach, chinese cabbage, konjaku (a Japanese jelly also used to make shirataki noodles that has almost no calories and a ton of fiber, for more info check out Just Hungry’s post) and beef. The restaurant provides a dipping sauce that conists of ginger, aromatic herbs and peanut sauce, but there was also dark rice vinegar (which the Chinese eat on everything, and I did, too) and soy sauce. Way too much food, way too delicious to stop eating. We were stuffed, and it was all fresh, healthy and low in calories.
My personal dinner consisted of about 1/2 cup of broth (~15 kcal), 5 prawns (~150kcal), 4 cups of assorted mushrooms and veggies (~75kcal), 1 cup konjaku (~10kcal) and 1/4 cup dark vinegar (~8kcal), for a total of an astoundingly low 258kcal for *mountains* of food.
Verdict: I love Xiabu Xiabu, but wouldn’t recommend it without a computerized character containing dictionary, a translation app on whatever device you use (we used Pleco, which included an option to scan characters with my iPod’s camera to obtain translations, or a translator, if you don’t speak/read Chinese yourself.
Is there anything you think I should explore more? Or any specific topics of interest to other China travelers? I’d love some suggestions!