Article by Francis and Jin
North Gate of Tian Ci Yi Fu Community, Sheng Zhou 3rd Road.
(029) 8905 1000
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 113RMB
Hidden away in southern Xi’an, just a short hop-skip-and-a-jump from the line 4 Hangtiandadao subway station and next to the Fields Hotel, is a hot pot restaurant distinguishing itself from the rest.
The first remarkable distinction about Shangshan is their selection of hot pot flavors. They feature Chongqing and Chaoshan hot pot flavors, which are representative of Sichuan and Guangzhou, respectively. To our knowledge, you can find these individual flavors of hot pot throughout Xi’an, but this is the only restaurant in Xi’an where you can enjoy both of these hot pot flavors on your table, at the same time (in a divided pot of course), with exceptional quality.
Shangshan is also a hot pot restaurant that takes care in their preparation and delivery of flavor. This starts with their selection of high-quality, authentic ingredients. First, the hot pot base. Most hot pot restaurants (even high-end restaurants) serve their hot pot base out of a plastic bag, in which the prepared ingredients have traveled around China for some indeterminable length of time. At Shangshan, their Chongqing niuyou 牛油 (beef fat) hot pot base is created fresh in-house each week. As we quickly discovered, this allows the beef fat, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and other flavors to truly dominate instead of the monotone spiciness usually associated with Chongqing hot pot.
Additionally, they have three different varieties of dipping sauces to choose from. First, Chongqing’s sesame oil with cilantro, crushed garlic, and oyster sauce. They also have a Chaoshan sauce which features huangdoujiang 黄豆酱, shachajiang 沙茶酱, oyster sauce, and finely chopped celery. If you decide those aren’t for you, they also have the traditional Shaanxi-style sesame paste ingredients.
For the Chaoshan hot pot, their beef cuts are local to Shaanxi, high-grade, and freshly cut to order. The chefs carefully butterfly each meat slice so that it is bigger and has more area. When the meat boils, it develops a texture that can better carry and accentuate the hot pot flavor, and is more satisfying to eat. We tried a balanced marbled cut of bianxinrou 扁心肉 and the leaner jianzirou 腱子肉, both of which were very tender and still retained their beef flavor after cooking and paired exceptionally with the dipping sauce. Finally, we also tried a fatty xiongkourou 胸口肉 which became unexpectedly but delightedly crunchy when cooked.
We also tried the fish dumplings, which were excellent. The wrappers stayed bouncy and seemed to defy the laws of physics that so much flavorful meat and fish could fit into such modest dumplings. As for Chaoshan vegetables, we tried their Guangdong tonghao. They are one of the few restaurants in Xi’an to order this vegetable from Guangdong.
For the Chongqing hot pot, we tried the yachang 鸭肠 (duck intestine), maodu 毛肚 (tripe), and huanghou 黄喉 (pig heart muscle). The yachang was especially tasty – with a crispy texture. The chef recommended that after cooking it, we dip it in a dried chili powder rub, which was truly divine.
Overall, the food arrived at a leisurely pace and the servers were very accommodating. Beverages were a bit lacking – if you want something other than juice, soda, or baijiu, bring it yourself. For toddlers, there is a section with some entertainment. They are able to accommodate large groups or parties with big or small baojian 包间 (private room) – call ahead of time to reserve.
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Francis and Jin are both teachers in Xi’an who enjoy gourmet meals. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com