A break from the ubiquitous Korean barbecue, this popular, budget mall restaurant serves Korean hotpot specialising in a spicy catfish boil. The waitress greases the pot with a beef tallow cube, then adds a giant bowl of chili-sauced catfish, pork and mushroom balls and pork ribs (four-person meal set, 236RMB includes fish, meats, vegetables and sides). She then vigorously mixes a large bowl of dark red, ominously spicy-looking sauce. When asked what’s in it, she smiles ‘this is our secret recipe. Only two people know it.’ She finally layers the sauce over the fish and covers it for 15 minutes. Meanwhile you can dig into excellent bibimbap (22RMB) and seafood pancake (28RMB) – some of the better versions we tried on our city trawl.
Finally the catfish de resistance is ready and you can dig into the fish, meat, celery, onion and a virtual bushel of garlic cloves -- it’s more a thick stew than a broth. The ‘secret’ sauce is pungent and intense but not overly numbing. When you finish the meats, the staff add water to the pot and it becomes a soup hotpot for dipping all your fresh vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. Fun, downscale and unique.