Wang Fu (Mimóza) Chinese Restaurant

Those looking for an interactive, communal dining experience should consider Wang Fu (Mimóza), a longstanding Chinese hot pot restaurant in Budapest, a bit outside the city center. The system works like this: guests need to walk up to and choose from the oversized fridges standing by the entrance and containing a countless variety of skewered raw ingredients including mutton, chicken, beef, crustaceans and fish, vegetables, and noodles. Once you return to your table, servers will prepare the cooking broths where go the ingredients for anywhere from a few seconds (raw beef) to several minutes (noodles).

Selecting the winning combination from the hundred or so options can be overwhelming. The popular and safer choices for Westerners are the classic shaved mutton (a staple of hot pot), shrimps, squids, fish balls, different types of tofu, shiitake (or other types of mushroom), lotus root, napa cabbage, and bok choy. The default broth at Wang Fu comes in a split pot with a light, unremarkable chicken broth and a somewhat spicier version enhanced with chili paste and chili oil (don't think Sichuan-type fiery heat though). Towards the end of the meal the broth becomes a rich, flavorful soup from from adopting the tastes of all the ingredients that were in it. Those feeling brave to experiment with offal should try the pork blood, which goes surprisingly well with the peanut-based dipping sauce.

For dinner, come on the earlier side for the most lively atmosphere.