Daohuaxiang (Aranytál Étterem)
Daohuaxiang Restaurant fuses two popular contemporary Chinese food trends: spicy food and hotpotting. The restaurant was inspired by the Southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, known as the birthplace of spicy hotpot. The oversized dining room is devoid of design elements, as if to ascertain that all attention is paid to the raw ingredients lined up in the oversized fridges standing in the center of the space. Unless specified differently, they will bring a split pot for the broths. One is a mild chicken stock, the other, teeming with chili, is quite the opposite. The “medium” chili heat at Daohuaxiang would knock most Westerners off their feet, so it’s advisable to stick to “low" level.
My favorite was the mutton, the signature hot-pot food, which at Daohuaxiang comes in paper-thin slices and need only a quick dunk in the hot liquid before turning a light grey color and ready to dissolve in the mouth. Otherwise, shrimp, the mixed meat balls, tofu, and some vegetables like bok choy and mushrooms are all you need. But don't leave before trying some of the Chongqing must-haves like ox tripe. Also, be sure to take a few sips, if not more, of the deeply flavorful broth at the end of the meal (it absorbs flavors from the foods cooking in it).
Prices are pretty steep at Daohuaxiang. If you get too excited about all that’s to try, it’s easy to rack up a hefty bill (watch the colors of the ingredients' bowls, they denote price categories, but the broth is the most expensive; going with a group makes it more economical as the price of the broths is shared). In line with Chinese customs, go on the earlier side for dinner (before 7 p.m.) if you don’t want to face an empty dining room. Daohuaxiang is a 10-minute cab ride from Budapest's city center.