Within a few steps from most corners in Madrid´s center, finding Chinese food is easy, and finding “hot pot” Chinese food requires even less effort. It’s normal for flavors to be subdued and menus to be adapted to please the local taste palate, but sometimes you want to order the real deal. In the case of hot pot, food originally created in Sichuan province in southwest China, Madrid offers plenty of options to choose from, as some CIEE students discovered near the iconic Plaza España
When you sit down with your placemat-sized paper menu, it’s hard not to feel immediately overwhelmed by the number of options, especially if you’re unsure of what hot pot is. You’ll choose the type of broth and then an assortment of raw meats and vegetables, which are cooked by being dipped or bathed in the boiling liquid. You’ll remove the cooked items, dip them in your sauce, and eat them, but you generally don’t drink the broth, as with soup. Essentially, hot pot is a type of fondue, not a soup.
Past students also recommend ordering a big pitcher of water. The bottle of Chinese sesame pastes that you’re given when you sit down is to dip your cooked items after pulling them from the chili broth. This allows for the sweetness of the sesame paste to mix with your food.
Hot pot is unavoidably served family-style, and great for sharing with a group of friends where everyone at the table flavors the same broth by dipping their food. It’s fun and sociable and authentic, but, above all, it’s a tasty part of the Madrid food scene.