Shanghai's best healthy hotpots

Overdose on Christmas cheer? Lighten the load with these winter warmers

Elixir Health Pot

Hailing from Taiwan, Hengshan Lu spot Elixir is perennially busy, and when the giant duo pot of medicinal broth arrives at your table, you’ll start to understand why. The ‘health pot’ bases here are brimming with all kinds of spices, chilli, tofu and red dates – a real feast for the taste buds. You can get either the ‘Wulao spicy aromatic pot’ or the ‘healthy creamy tofu pot’ base for 98RMB per small table or 168RMB per large table, but we recommend getting a house special twin pot for an additional 30RMB.

To add to the already flavoursome broth, there’s plenty of beef (98RMB for flat iron), lamb (58RMB) and pork (58RMB for shoulder). There’s also an array of fresh seafood (from 16RMB scallops) and vegetables, plus numerous varieties of tofu (from 15RMB) including a tasty ‘ice cream tofu’ option. We recommend you skip the assorted dumplings (42RMB), which are light on taste and high on starch, and instead order the super tasty meatballs (78RMB for 10), as well as the mixed mushroom plate (58RMB). Although on the pricey side, we love Elixir Health Pot, and so does the rest of Shanghai, it appears – their windows aren’t permanently fogged up for nothing.

Average price per person 200RMB

Good for Intense and aromatic flavours, plentiful meat and seafood options and a tasty twin pot.

Elixir Health Pot is at 2 Hengshan Lu, near Dongping Lu, Xuhui district. Open 11am-4am daily. See full address details.

Gan Ye Zi Vegan Hotpot Restaurant

Gan Ye Zi is another Taiwanese-backed joint, and when it comes to a healthy hotpot, you can’t do better than a vegan one. There’s no menu here; instead all diners get a hotpot set for 158RMB per person. Included is a choice of tea, as well as an individual pot of mushroom stock and a small spice mix (including dried mushrooms and black beans) to add to your broth.

On the side you’ll get a huge plate of veggies, tofu, and some ‘meat’ balls, that are made from tofu and veg; there’s also a small sauce buffet with chili, peanut sauce and pickles to help spice things up. At the end of your meal (if you’ve got any stomach space to spare) you’ll be offered some green vegetable dumplings and dessert. We got as far as a couple of dumplings before we had to be rolled out the door.

Average price per person 158RMB

Good for A peaceful ambiance and good value produce.

Gan Ye Zi Vegan Hotpot Restaurant is at 359 Xinhua Lu, near Dingxi Lu, Changning district. Open 11am-2.30pm; 6-9.30pm daily. See full address details.

Holy Cow


One of Shanghai’s finest hotpot restaurants (voted readers’ choice Best Chinese Restaurant in Time Out’s 2015 awards), Holy Cow is our go-to choice for a great value and exceptional-quality beef hotpot. Even better, they’ve just opened a new Changning district branch to go with the Xuhui original.

Using never-frozen beef from Dalian yellow cattle, there’s a variety of cuts – 18 in total – from fatty filet mignon (68RMB) to ribeye (58RMB), to shank (58RMB). There’s also a variety of meat and fish balls (from 28RMB), as well as fresh vegetables (from 10RMB) and the unmissable xiaolongbao (16RMB). Given how fresh the produce is here, sauce isn’t a requirement, but certainly justifies the indulgence. Mix your favourites together with confidence; we’re yet to find a wrong combination. For the broth, we recommend a half-half pot (58RMB) of spicy, and clear beef broth (MSG and additive free) or perhaps if you’re after some added virility this January, you can try the ‘medicinal root ox penis soup’ (228RMB).

Average price per person 100RMB

Good for Beef fiends and those who like their vegetables absolutely bursting with flavour.

Holy Cow is at Second Floor, 608 Xiaomuqiao Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Xuhui district. Open 11am-11pm daily. See full address details, and details for their Changning branch.

Qimin Organic Hotpot


Walking through the organic grocer to Qimin’s low-lit restaurant gets your mouth watering immediately. A rainbow of fruits and vegetables line the shelves, making you feel healthier just from looking at them.

You can choose from bases that include a soothing Matsutake mushroom chicken broth (38RMB) and a creamy pork bone broth (28RMB) to fill your individual pot. Vegetable and meat options abound, and arrive at the table artfully presented on trays and crates and in bowls and baskets. The assorted organic basket (48RMB, large) offers a nice selection of seasonal vegetables; don’t skip the self-harvest mushrooms (from 38RMB) that are delivered to the table attached to a hunk of wood, or in a pot of soil – produce doesn’t get any fresher. There’s also a wonderful selection of sauces to marry with all the goodness.

Average price per person 80-100RMB

Good for A healthy shopping mall indulgence and self-harvesting freshness.

Qimin Organic Hotpot is at Fourth Floor, Reel Mall, 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Changde Lu, Jingan district. Open 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm daily. See full address details.