Food for Christmas thought

Where would you host the office Christmas party, family reunion or business lunch? Shanghai Daily takes a look at some popular restaurants to save you the time and trouble.

The Christmas season is upon us. The streets are sprinkled with sparkling lights while majestic Christmas trees stand tall outside of the city’s shopping malls. Department store windows are adorned with glittering decorations as shoppers hustle and bustle inside the store looking for this year’s must-buy gift.

Swapping gifts plays a big part in the Christian festival but so does eating out. Where would you host an office Christmas party, a long overdue family reunion, or a business lunch? Shanghai Daily takes a look at some of the most popular restaurants in Hangzhou to save you the time and trouble.

Tian Ye

Da Long Yi Hotpot

Tian Ye

Sesame oil mixed with minced garlic and coriander

Da Long Yi Hotpot 大龙燚火锅

From Christmas to the Spring Festival, locals like to spend time around the dinner table, and hotpot is a popular choice in winter. Nothing will make you feel more homely and warm as plunging fresh food ingredients into a simmering hotpot.

For more than 1,000 years, hotpot has been an easy and economical option for all kinds of reunions. Dozens of different varieties have been introduced to the city over the years, from fresh seafood in south China to savory slices of mutton in the north. However, the most authentic hotpot is always considered to be the Sichuan version. People from that region eat a lot of spicy food to remove the inner moisture caused by the humid climate.

Unlike other chain brands that adapt local flavoring to allure more diners, Da Long Yi offers an original taste and preparation techniques from Sichuan Province. Hangzhou residents always turn to tongue-numbing hotpot when they want something different from their daily fare.

There is only one dipping sauce served in the restaurant, sesame oil mixed with minced garlic and coriander, which has a strong, some say “unpleasant,” odor. Lovers of the herbal spice insist it tastes much better than it smells.

Though most hotpot restaurants provide a dozen of varied dipping sauces, Da Long Yi’s unique flavor adds an exclusive fragrance to the ingredients. It also acts as a cooling agent to tone down the level of hotness.

Offal is a must-have food for spicy hotpot. Common varieties include beef tripe, duck intestine, pig aorta, pig brain, kidney and blood tofu curds. Their flavor and texture are heightened after being boiled in the pungent broth.

Address: 171 Wulin Rd

Tel: (0571) 8588-8990

Tuzao Chaihuo Fish

Tuzao Chaihuo Fish 土灶柴火鱼

Tuzao refers to a traditional clay-piled stove while chaihuo means firewood. In the restaurant, diners gather around a big iron cauldron and share a hearty fish soup.

Al dente pancakes, made of cornstarch, are attached to the rim of the cauldron and served as staple food. They absorb the aroma of the fish soup and taste mellow after being baked in this traditional way.

The dining method was introduced from southwestern China, where people combined the essence of hotpot with folk pancakes. Around four years ago, this culinary technique became popular around the country before finding favor with Hangzhou foodies.

The iron cauldron is often used in rural areas when people prepare large-scale festival feasts and ceremonial banquets. It is believed they preserve the original flavor of meat and retain the fragrance from firewood.

In southwestern China, the dish is cooked on a clay-piled stove, but in a restaurant it is prepared on a brick-paved stove. Chefs stick to using firewood to preserve the essence of the delicacy. The dish is stirred in front of guests and diners are encouraged to get involved in the cooking process themselves, to give them an authentic rural life experience.

In addition to fish, diners can also choose free-range chicken, which have been raised organically.

Address: No. 16, Liming Huayuan Residential Community, Mingshi Rd

Tel: (0571) 8517-5727

Panggelia Crab Pot 

Panggelia Crab Pot 胖哥俩肉蟹煲

Crab pot is another great choice to enjoy and share with friends in the winter, where crab, chicken feet, potatoes and rice cakes are all boiled together in a big salver. The crab’s umami adds a palatable flavor while the chicken feet’s collagen thickens the broth.

Soy sauce adds color and an appetizing smell, tofu soaks up the flavors and adds a smooth texture, while the boiled potatoes remove the grease from meat.

Crab bodies are cut in half and people have to hold its legs, with chopsticks or hands, and bite into it to get to the meat. Crab shells are also added to the pot to make the dish look visually appealing.

The dish goes well with rice and a glass of beer. Vegetables and chili can be added, while crayfish, shrimps, fish, pork, bullfrogs and beef, can all replace crab depending on what you prefer to eat on the day.

Address: 4/F, Zone B, Bldg A, Hangzhou Tower, 21 Wulin Square

Tel: (0571) 8807-9777

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