There are few meals more warming or social than a bubbling hot pot to share on a chilly Shanghai night. We're lucky to have a wide variety of hot pot restaurants in Shanghai, whether it's gamey lamb or spicy Sichuan broth that gets your taste buds going, there's a hot pot for every palate and situation in Shanghai.
Bingo Mall: Rm. 302A Bldg. 1, Bingo Mall, 341 Tianshan Lu (near Weining Lu) 天山路341号缤谷文化休闲广场一期302A室 (近威宁路), Tel: 5297-9937
Star Plaza: 2/F, B Block, Star Plaza, 1665 Hongqiao Lu (near Shuicheng Lu) 虹桥路1665号星空广场B区2层 (近水城路), Tel: 6277-0677
Opened by well-known local chef Anthony Zhao, Holy Cow spins a healthy angle on the traditional Chaozhou hot pot. Sourcing clean, healthy and natural ingredients is the backbone of their philosophy; expect fresh, hand-cut Dalian beef and organic vegetables straight from Zhao's farm in Haimen. Fresh, quality ingredients at very affordable prices, you can't beat that. Read our review here.
Where: Multiple locations, 5/F, 66 Nanjing Dong Lu (near Sichuan Zhong Lu) 南京东路66号5楼 (近四川中路)
Dong Lai Shun is an institution for Beijing-style hot pot. The broth comes served in colorful, dome-shaped pots typically associated with northern-style huoguo—they're called cloissonné enamel pots—kept heated either atop an electrical stove or via charcoal. The latter is a tiny bit more expensive, but also more atmospheric. Lamb is the main draw, go for the traditional hand-cut lamb neck, or the juicy shavings of meat found above a lamb's ribs. Also available is a decent variety of beef and seafood options. Non-hot pot dishes like zhajiangmian and lamb shish kebabs are also worth a try. Read our review here.
Address: 4/F, B Zone, Reel Mall, 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Changde Lu) 南京西路1601号芮欧百货B区4楼 (近常德路)
Created by the same team behind GREEN&SAFE, 'organic', 'farm-to-table' and 'no additives' are the keywords here at Qimin. Guests choose the base they want, then pick from a variety of sets—meat, seafood, vegetables (all greens are sent directly from their self-owned farm in Kunshan)—which are delivered to the table promptly on a little rack. Read our review here.
Address: Multiple locations, 2 Hengshan Lu (near Taojiang Lu) 衡山路2号 (近桃江路)
This Taiwanese import is for the gourmand, with prices that are slightly higher than your average hot pot venue. They offer two different broths—the Healthy Tofu as well as the Wu Lao Spicy pot—go for the twin pot for the best of both worlds. Elixir incorporates healthy, medicinal ingredients like ginseng, so although from the outside, it looks like your typical, fire red chili pots littering Shanghai's streets, theirs is definitely a lot healthier and cleaner. Their meats are premium and you can order mixed plates of beef, pork or lamb. If you order the tofu pot, you even get an order of their tofu ice cream, which is made out of their in-house tofu. It's served cold, but put it into the broth and it will cook up into wonderful pillows of savory softness.
Address: 1/F M Town, 680 Huaihai Xi Lu
Mahota Kitchen is a health-centric restaurant that doubles up as a gourmet grocery store, offering nutritious meals using their own organically-grown goods. The big promise here is that everything is plucked fresh from the Mahota Farm and served within 24 hours of being harvested. Broths are light and clean (read: no MSG) so for Sichuan hot pot fans, it might be a little bland. You can always spruce things up with their sauces.
Address: Multiple locations, 3/F 1068 Beijing Xi Lu (near Jiangning Lu) 北京西路1068号3楼 (近江宁路)
Probably the reigning hot pot chain in town—Hai Di Lao is everywhere, and we mean everywhere. The fare is standard Sichuanese, but what they're known for is their exceptional service. They offer complimentary snacks, manicures, shoe shines, and games of go (the servers will occasionally even play with you) while you wait. Once you're seated, you'll quickly be offered plastic covers and bibs to protect your cellphones, glasses and person. It's a bemusing experience. The menu and ordering system is extremely foreigner-friendly, so a good option when you have friends or family in town.
Address: Multiple locations, 1052 Wuding Lu (near Jiaozhou Lu) 武定路1052号 (近胶州路)
Another popular chain—this one has 22 branches scattered across the city. Prices are fair and ingredients are fresh and tasty. A must-try is the soup with pig intestines, or their 'bao zai fan' rice dish.
Address: 1720 Huaihai Zhong Lu (near Wuxing Lu) 淮海中路1720号 (近吴兴路)
People who don't like the idea of everyone collectively sticking their chopsticks into one communal pot will enjoy Gokohai. They offer mini individual hot pots; each person will get to cook their own ingredients at their own pace. We love the succulent beef belly, so tender that you barely need to chew, while their savory seaweed and dashi broth is the perfect cooking medium for their plump shrimps. The mild base allows the natural flavors of the beef, pork, lamb and seafood to shine, but for added flavor, we like a mixture of garlic, green onion, lemon juice, carrot purée and ponzu sauce. You never leave Gokohai hungry, or thirsty for that matter—Asahi is on draft here for RMB15.
Address: Bldg. D1, 351 Wuyi Lu (near Dingxi Lu) 武夷路351号D1楼 (近定西路)
AQ is well known for an expertly mixed sukiyaki broth of soy sauce, sugar and mirin, and their milky beef ribbons, rich duck breast and bouncy fish balls all cook up well in the sweet yet hearty soup. Once cooked, the choice cuts of meat are best given a dip in a bowl of freshly cracked raw egg. When you order, make sure to mix in some items that absorb the flavors of the broth. We're partial to white radish, cellophane noodles, udon noodles and silky egg custard tofu. You can stuff yourself to your delight for two hours at the low cost of RMB139 per head.
Address: Multiple locations, 2/F, 35 Shaanxi Nan Lu (near Changle Lu) 陕西南路35号红房子2楼 (近长乐路)
The prices at Momo Paradise are a steal for what's on offer; our favorite is the all-you-can-eat option for RMB168/pax (dinner). Kick it up a notch and throw in free-flow beer and sake for an additional RMB50 and you have the perfect cold weather pre-party. The broths are Japanese in style, and we highly recommend both the spicy miso and the soymilk collagen. Boiling meat in soymilk might seem odd, but this mixture of soymilk, mirin, sake, konbu, miso and gelatin is a classic Japanese winter dish. Meat options include lamb and pork, and you get to pick your vegetables off a rolling cart of seasonal produce. Both the sesame and miso dipping sauces are fantastic.
This article was first published by Cristina Ng, October 2013. It has since been updated by Wansien Lee, November 2017.
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