City's hot picks
There are as many hot pot palaces in Chengdu as there are teahouses. As with teahouses, hot pot restaurants can range from a hole in the wall to a massive complex with ornately carved wood, jade and stone interiors.
All versions of hot pot have their advantages and disadvantages. It is advisable to begin with the red-white pot to accommodate those with an aversion to spicy food.
For experienced hot pot lovers, the basic red pot is king. For aficionados, a regular change between the basic red and the speciality hot pot - be it crab, bullfrog or beer lamb - is the most desirable. It is also important to realise that Chengdu and Chongqing hot pot have intermingled to the point that they are often indistinguishable to the novice, and both cities have significantly infiltrated each other's territory. When in Chengdu, the local variety is recommended for quality.
Of the hundreds of hot pot restaurants, there are a few that enjoy a continuous flow of customers:
Lao Ma Tou Hot Pot Palace
Yulin Road North. The whole of Yulin Road is a hot pot heaven, with Lao Ma Tou as the grand-uncle.
Pa Zi Hot Pot Palace
Ren Min Road South, just before the airport turn-off. Pa Zi Hot Pot is famous and bustling. It specialises in crab.
Huang Cheng Lao
Ma Hot Pot Palace
20 Qintai Road Second Ring Road South. Huang Cheng Lao Ma (pictured) is without doubt the most beautiful hot pot establishment in town. The owner is an artist whose interior designs are on full display.
Shi Zi Lou Hot Pot
2 Wannian Road, Second Ring Road East.
Chuan Wang Fu Hot Pot
127 Shuanglin Road.