Spicy hot pot in Chengdu

After spending hours walking around Chengdu, on my first full day in the city, I decided to visit one of Sichuan’s famous hot pot restaurants. Nothing quells China’s oppressive summer heat and humidity like sitting in front of a pot of boiling, hot oil, to eat incredibly spicy food.

Our Chinese neighbors ate some sort of brain, but we stuck with pork, beef, and just about every vegetable we could find. My favorite was the lotus root. The food tasted great, but it wasn’t quite as spicy as I had hoped.

One of the girls with whom I ate, Mallory, is an American teaching English in northern China, near the Russian border, in small city outside of Harbin. She spoke Chinese fluently enough to get as an invite into the kitchen, so that we could see firsthand the various foods available, which was helpful because none of the menu was in English. We pointed, smiled, and ate.

Fat Mama’s Hot Pot restaurant; Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.

Plenty of bean sprouts and lotus root.

We ate about three times the amount seen here, and the total bill was still only about $8 per person (50 RMB), which included two big beers, a liter bottle of soda, and free tea.

Beef slices, in the kitchen.

Eating hot pot with Mallory, an English teacher in China, near the Russian border, outside of Harbin.