Fun with Hotpot Menus

Hotpot is the most famous delicacy associated with Chongqing nationwide. No matter where you travel in China, you will almost certainly find a ‘Chongqing Huoguo (Fire wok) 重庆火锅’ restaurant in town.

There are countless avenues for us to explore with hotpot; the history, key ingredients, utensils, varieties, specialties, brands, social culture, homemade versions, entertainment, games, Chinese and local dialect terms, way too much to cover in a single post without making the reader’s head spin!

In light of this, I’m going to break down the culinary phenomenon of Chonqing hotpot into a series of bitesize themes, today’s being a matter of huge practical concern for overseas visitors, dealing with the menu!

For simplicity, I will picture the scenario where the tourist wanders into a common streetside hotpot restaurant, doesn’t know much Chinese, and isn’t familiar with ordering process.

You shouldn’t have any taxing issues with the upmarket brands, or at least they won’t give you much cause for headaches, so I intend to put these aside for today and focus exclusively on the ‘street’ hotpot experience.

Hang around through to the end, where I will share the most common hotpot menu items in both Chinese and English. I’m sure you will enjoy reading them, as perhaps one day turn them to practical use.

 

Basic Steps

 

On the surface, at least, the process of ordering hotpot itself is remarkably straight forward.

You walk in, then first tell the staff how many are in your party, since you might have more people coming to join you, for which you’ll need the right size of table and position.

Once a group of patrons have sat down, they will hand you one tickbox menu for the whole group to choose from. Depending on the occasion, a good host will allow the beneficiariesof his goodwill to select first. In a friendly gathering, there are no major formalities to worry much about.

Whilst you’re busy pondering over the menu, the chef will prepare your wok, then carry it through the aisles to your table, and heaven forbid drop or spill the contents! They will light the gas stove there and then, as it’ll take a while before it’s hot enough to cook anything.

You might find the waiting staff standing around to take the order if they’re not busy, and lots of foreign tourists may naturally feel a little uneasy, as if under pressure to hurry up.

The truth is you needn’t feel this way, it’s just the done way. They will wait for you, and might poactively recommend some dishes that you’re free to accept or decline. If you really feel uncomfortable, you can politely try out this phrase ‘请给我们几分钟考虑吧 Qing gei women ji fenzhong kaolv ba.’ Please give us a few minutes to think about it.

Once you’ve chosen, you hand the paper back, and they’ll do the rest. You can order extra later if you want, and they’ll just add it to the bill, no problem.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, yes, but with one almighty catch, being able to read and understand Chinese!

As well as enhancing cultural awareness, I hope my post comes in handy for the intrepid traveller one day!

 

Back to the Past

 

On my first independent ventures with fellow British friends back in 2003, the days before I knew Mandarin well, we were at a complete loss with the menus, and unable to communicate with the staff.

The only two solutions available at the time, apart from not going, were pestering strangers from another table for potential help, or have a waitress follow you around the restaurant and tick the menu as you point saying ‘I want one of those!’

Trying your luck at random choice is a highly risky tactic. Hidden among the palatable options are the likes of tripe, brains, duck intestines, gums, tongue, chicken’s feet, coagulated blood, plus a few exotic plants and mushrooms that foreigners aren’t necessarily used to eating.

Funny as it seems looking back, I expect you’ll want to avoid making a spectacle of yourself, or providing other patrons a source of great amusement. So, in my case, one of the top priorities after my arrival in Chongqing was to master the hotpot vocabulary. I took home a copy of all the menus, then painstakingly searched out the characters in a dictionary, one by one!

My efforts soon paid off. Though it took a while to memorise all the characters, I quickly managed to steer clear of the undesirable options by focusing on key words like Du肚 (Tripe), Xue血 (blood), Zhao爪 (Feet), Nao脑 (Brain) ecetera.

As in English, there a number of colloquialisms for the good old potato in Chinese, so you’ll have to learn a few alteratives for the same vegetable. The most common is ‘Tudou土豆,’ but menus often list them as ‘Yang-yu洋芋 (Foreign taro) or Ma-ling-shu马铃薯.

Interestingly, don’t always expect every Chinese member of staff to know each of these words for potato. I have known of people ordering ‘Tudou,’ only for the waiter to say there aren’t any, when in fact they’re on the menu under a different name!

Likewise, the popular and tasty lotus root slices are usually called ‘Ou-pian藕片,’ but are also known sometimes as ‘He-xin河心 (River hearts!).

Thankfully, most other foods tend to go by the same Chinese word, so potatoes are really the exception, not the rule, here.

 

Translations of popular hotpot food

 

Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for!

The list below may be rather long, but I’m sure the sense of curiosity and and reactions to some of the more unusual items will carry you through to the end!

Waiting staff bring all of these dishes raw on plates, and the customers cook them in the boiling spicy wok.

There are a few Chinglish sounding expressions, so I have altered a few details to make them easier to understand.

Let’s see how many you’d like to try!

 

火锅中英文菜单 Chinese-English Hotpot menu

 

精品鹅肠 Special goose intestines

精品鸭肠 Special duck intestines

精品毛肚 Special tripe

(精品 jing-pin means special in the sense of high quality or house special)

麻辣牛肉 Spicy beef

香菜丸子 Meatballs served with cilantro

鲜牛鞭 Fresh ox penis

鹌鹑蛋 Quail eggs

美国肥牛 American fatty beef

鲜鹅肠 Fresh goose intestine

(Fresh as in not from the freezer)

鳝鱼 Eel

午餐肉 Spam meat/Luncheon meat (spam 是美国俗语)

无骨鹅掌 De-boned goose webs (Feet)

耗儿鱼 Corydoras

脑花 Brains

羊肉串 Mutton kebabs

羊肉卷 Sliced mutton

黄辣丁 Pelteobagrus fulvidraco fish

现炸酥肉 Deep-Fried Pork Fingers (Great as a starter)

鲜毛肚 Fresh tripe

腰片 Sliced kidneys

鲜鸭肠 Fresh duck intestines

鲜猪黄喉 Fresh pork trachea

千层肚 Thousand-layered tripe (Piled like lasagne in strips 千层面)

鲜鱼头 Fresh fish heads

虾饺 Shrimp dumplings

脆皮肠 Crispy intestine

鲜黄喉 Fresh trachea

白菜 Chinese white cabbage

豆芽 Beansprouts

鲜豆腐 Fresh Tofu

冬瓜 Winter gourd

藕片 Sliced lotus roots

土豆 Potatoes

木耳 agaric fungus

香菜 Cilantro

土豆皮 Potato skin

鲜鸭血 Fresh duck blood curds (A bowl of coagulated blood)

海带 Seaweed

青笋头 Green bamboo shoots

平菇 Shitake mushrooms

香菇 Champignon (Mushrooms)

贡菜 dried ballonflower

四川金针菇 Sichun Needle mushrooms

方竹笋 Square bamboo shoots

蛋炒饭 Fried rice with eggs

牛油火锅 butter hotpot

秘制全白锅 House special white hotpot

清油鸳鸯锅 Clear-oil double-flavoured hotpot

牛油鸳鸯锅 butter double flavoured hotpot

(The above four are different kinds of bases for the wok soup. My suggestion is the partitioned spicy broth and bland soup, as meant by ‘double flavoured’)

香油碟 Sesame oil

特色菜 House special dishes 

荤菜 Meat dishes

素菜 Vegetarian dishes

小吃 Snacks

锅底 Soup base

油碟 Oil dish

火锅 Hot pot

茼蒿菜 Crown daisies (Plant)

莲藕片lotus root-pieces

冬瓜片Chinese watermelon-pieces

青笋片lettuce-pieces

鸭血 duck blood

平菇 Even mushroom

粉条vermicelli

牛百叶 stomach of the cattle

小羊羔肉 Lamb

肥牛 Fatty beef

肥肠 Pig’s colon

鱼丸 Fish meatballs

虾丸Shrimp meatballs

鳝鱼片 Eel strips

午餐肉 spam luncheon meatspam

爽口嫩牛肉 Tender Beef

牛肉饺 beef dumplings

猪肉饺 pork dumplings

虾米饺 shrimp dumplings

龙须面 Fine noodles

麻花 fried dough twist (Hemp flour biscuits)

火腿肠 sausages

精品:House Special(意思是本店特色,言下之意就是精品了)

:goose;

:intestine;

:duck;

麻辣:spicy;

牛肉:beef;

香菜caraway;

牛肉丸:beef ball;

手工house-made(意思就是本店亲手制作),

里脊fillet,

嫩牛肉tender beef;

fresh;

墨鱼仔cuttlefish;

美国肥牛:American beef,

蟹肉crab meat,

鳝鱼eel,

无骨:boneless;

火腿肠:sausage

猪脑花:pig brain,

羊肉串:lamb stick,

带鱼hairtail,

鳕鱼ling,

酥肉,fried pork,

腰片:sliced kidney,

无骨凤爪 boneless chicken paw,

大白菜cabbage,

豆芽bean sprout,

鲜豆腐fresh tofu,

冬瓜chinese watermelon,

藕片lotus root,

鱿鱼:squid,

虾饺shrimp dumpling,

土豆,patato,

黄瓜:cucumber,

木耳agaric,

血汪red tofu (Soup with blocks of coagulated blood)

海带seaweed,

年糕rice cake,

花菜cauliflower,

蘑菇mushroom,

竹笋bamboo shoot,

脆豆腐 crispy tofu,

蛋炒饭 egg fried rice,

八宝粥 Mixed porridge,

特色菜:Chef specialty,

荤菜:meat,

素材:vegetable,

小吃:snack

 

 Here are some more!

 

1、红油锅底 Hot pot soup base (red chili oil)

2、清汤鸳鸯锅底 Dual hot pot soup bases(red chili oil and clear soup)

3、土鸡汤鸳鸯锅底 Dual hot pot soup bases(red chili oil and village chicken soup)

 

4、野生菌锅底 Hot pot soup base (wild mushroom)

5、麻酱碟 Plate of sesame paste

6、香油碟 Plate of sesame oil

7、椒盐碟 Plate of pepper salt

8、鳝鱼 Short eel

9、尚席方竹笋 Square bamboo shoot of ShangXi

10、特色毛肚 Sepcial beef omasum

11、猪黄喉 Pig trachea

12、重庆酥肉 Chongqing fried pork

13、鸭胗花 Duck gizzard pieces

14、鸭胗片 Duck gizzard slices

15、腰花 Pork kidney pieces

16、腰片 Pork kidney slices

17、老肉片 Marbled meat slices

18、牛眼肉 rib eye beef

19、肥牛 Fat beef slices

20、内蒙羔羊肉 Inner Mongolia kidlet slices

21、羊上脑 Fillet of lamb

22、手切鲜羊肉 Fresh mutton slices

23、手切鲜牛肉 Fresh beef slices

24、牛毛肚 Beef omasum(black)

25、牛黄喉 Beef trachea

26、火腿肠 Ham sausages

27、泥鳅 Loaches

28、鱼丸 Fish meatballs

29、虾丸 Shrimp meatballs

30、牛肉丸 Beef meatballs

31、鹌鹑蛋 Quail eggs

32、猪脑 Pig’s brains

33、蟹肉 Crab meat

34、脆皮肠 Crispy sausages

38、带鱼 Frost fish

39、马面鱼 Horse-faced fish

40、花鲢鱼头 Spotted silver carp head

41、牛百叶 Beef omasum (white)

42、猪肉香菜丸子 Pork and parsley meatballs

43、羊肚 Lamb tripe

44、牛骨髓 Bovine bone marrow

45、无骨鸭掌 Boneless duck feet

47、黄辣丁 Yellow cartfish

48、午餐肉 luncheon meat

50、九尺鹅肠 Goose intestines (long)

51、肥肠 Pig’s colon

52、鸭舌 Duck tongues

53、竹荪 Bamboo shoots

54、草菇 Straw mushroom

55、金针菇 Golden mushroom

56、香菇 Black mushroom

57、平菇 Cap fungus

60、白菜 Chinese cabbage

61、圆白菜 Cabbage patch

62、粉丝 Vermicelli

63、土豆片 Potato slices

64、豆芽 Bean sprouts

66、宽粉 Wide Vermicelli

67、海带 Kelp stripes (Seaweed)

68、红薯片 Sweet potato slices

69、龙须面 Fine noodles

70、豆苗 Mung Beans

71、菠菜 Spinach

72、白萝卜片 Radish slices

73、冬瓜 Chinese watermelon

74、菜花 Cauliflower

75、茼蒿 Garland Chrysanthemum

76、年糕 Rice cakes

77、地耳 Nostoc commune

78、青笋叶 Asparagus leaves

79、油麦菜 Lettuces

80、腐竹 Bean curd sheet rolls

81、豆皮 Tofu skin

82、冻豆腐 Frozen tofu

83、白豆腐 Fresh tofu

84、蒿子杆 Garland chrysanthemum

85、鸭血 Duck blood

86、黄瓜 Cucumber

87、青笋条 Fresh Bamboo Shoots

88、藕片 Lotus Root slices

90、鲜山药 Fresh Cinnamomvine

91、四川麻圆 Si Chuan Sesame Balls

92、家乡叶儿粑 Cakes wrapped in leaves

93、香煎糍粑块 Fried Glutinous Rice Cake

94、鸳鸯小馒头 small buns in two flavors

95、香芋卷 Taro Rolls

96、醪糟小汤圆 Glutinous Rice Balls in Rice Wine

97、酱香蒸饺 Steamed Dumplings Seasoned with Soy Sauce

98、扬州炒饭 Yang Zhou fried Rice

99、担担面 Dandan noodles(top with chopped meatin soybean paste )

100、家乡泡菜 Pickled vegetables

101、米饭 White rice

103、鲜豆浆 Fresh soybean milk

104、柠檬茶 Lemon tea

105、鲜橙汁 Fresh orange juice

106、西瓜汁 Watermelon juice

107、青瓜汁 Cucumber juice

 

Special request

 

If you enjoyed my post on hotpot today, please consider posting a link on your social media pages. Many thanks!

 

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