I’ll start by setting the record straight and mentioning that I AM NOT a big fan of hotpot or 火锅. As much as I love sharing food with people and all that, there is something that bothers me with the concept, especially after i had a Hep scare a few years ago. To make a long story short, I avoid hotpot usually but make a notable exception when it comes to the individual ones as opposed to the gigantic pot in the center.
When I get that craving usually about once or twice a year, there is only one place in Beijing that I trust to satisfy me: Man Fu Lou 满福楼大酒店 (map). The place stays off the expat radar for some reason but the locals swear by it.. and so do I!
I’ve been going there for a few years now ever since a friend turned me on to it back when i didn’t even live in Beijing. I’ve been there twice a year, every year, since 2005 and have yet to be disappointed by either the service or the quality.
The building stands out in a neon-laden manner on di-an-men, not to far away from Houhai and other scenic spots in Beijing, making it a perfect spot before a night out in the town or with out-of-town visitors.
Once you walk in, it’s an elegant and over the top imperial style decoration that shows its age in a good way! A sign that the restaurant has been around for a long time and has managed to deliver for a while as well. On thing i really like about their seating arrangements is the height of tables: u can actually come here with tall friends and they will have enough leg room.
We took one of their private dinning rooms for our crew to keep the conversation intimate and come to think of it, I’ve done so on every visit there. If it’s not broken, why fix it?
We ordered the usual fare of beef, lamb, chicken, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, coriander, noodles etc… along with cucumber, chuan’r and mini meaty hot pockets along with ample amounts of beer and chrysanthemum tea.
The whole table took the chicken stock as a base for their hotpot and the meal was on! What can I say? everything was fresh and tasty: the beef was just fatty enough, the lamb tasted like lamb as opposed to “aged” mutton and the whole experience was a big positive.
One thing about Man Fu Lou is that they are not cheap but then again, I’m willing to pay a bit more in exchange for better quality and comfort. The staff is friendly and attentive. The menu is in English and Chinese! It’s not out of this world but it is pretty darn solid!
Man Fu Lou 满福楼涮羊肉 (map)
Xi Cheng Qu DianMenNei Dajie 38 Hao