Even though Shanghai’s winters tend to be long, cold and dreary, there is a definite upside: hotpot. Bundled up, gathered with friends around a steaming bowl of broth, there are few dining experiences more interactive, fun or delicious. And lucky for us, there are plenty of places to go the next time you need warming up. Here are our favorites.
Photo courtesy of AdventurousAppetite.com
Originating in Beijing, this is one of the best places to get Northern-style hot pot - meaning a mild broth and really, really good lamb. The restaurant uses impressive brass cauldrons with coal-burning chimneys, decorated with painted dragons - a real crowd pleaser, especially for out-of-towners. Be sure to get the lamb meatballs, and dip everything into the restaurant’s famous peanut satay.
Address: 215 Shimen Er Lu, near Xinzha Lu; 石门二路215号 (近新闸路)
With more than 130 locations in China, Hai Di Lao is obviously doing something right. While known for its fresh ingredients, the real draw here is the service. From free manicures and shoulder rubs to shoe shines and board games, there’s a lot going on. Add to that a “dancing noodle” show at the end of the meal, and you have a place rife with entertainment - and the perfect place to take visitors. Just make sure they like spicy food (this is a Sichuan import, after all).
Address: Multiple locations
Known for its beef (hence the name), Holy Cow is a must-try for meat-eaters. The restaurant prides itself on having the highest quality beef available, promising fresh, never frozen, products to guests. Owner Anthony Zhao is well known in the community for his dedication to organic farming and traceability, and it’s apparent in his fresh ingredients and insanely delicious bone broth.
Xuhui Location: 608 Xiaomuqiao Lu (near Zhongshan Nan Er Lu); 小木桥路608号(近中山南二路)
Changning Location: Bingo Mall, 302A, 3F, 341 Tianshan Lu (near Weining Lu); 天山路341号缤谷文化休闲广场一期302A
Vegetarians and germaphobes, rejoice! Qimin Organic offers individual hot pots, allowing each guest to customize his or her own broth and add-ins. Run by the people behind Green & Safe, all vegetables are of course top-notch, and vegans even have a tomato broth option (although truth be told, their meat is pretty darn good too). Be sure to order the wild mushrooms - you can cut your own from the crop they grow at the restaurant.
Address: 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu, 4/F (near Changde Lu); 南京西路1601号芮欧百货4楼B区 (近常德路)
Hours: 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm M-F; 11am-10pm Sat-Sun
The herbal, savory smell of Elixir’s broth is known to waft outside the restaurant doors, enticing anyone and everyone to come in and take a seat. Guests have two broth options, the “spicy aromatic” or “healthy creamy tofu.” We suggest you pay the extra ¥30 to get the twin pot, and enjoy both uniquely satisfying flavors. Also make sure to get Wulao’s famous “ice cream tofu,” seasonal vegetables and tasty meatballs. It may cost a bit more than other places around town, but it’s totally worth it.
Xuhui Location: 2 Hengshan Lu (near Taojiang Lu); 衡山路2号甲香樟花园内(近桃江路)
Changning Location: 677 Huangjin Chengdao (near Yinzhu Lu); 黄金城道677号(近银珠路)
Hours: 11am-2am daily