Article by James Morrow
No.25, Shun Cheng Nan Lu.
(029) 8731 0520
Average Price per Person /人均消费:95RMB
Chuan-Chuan, for the uninitiated, is a variation on hot pot that serves the typical arrangement of hot pot goods served on skewers instead of the standard trays. Skewers are counted up at the end, just like a barbeque. These restaurants have become increasingly popular over the past several years and for good reason; they offer the best of the hot pot experience, but allow you to eat a greater variety of things without having to massively extend your bill.
However, with the proliferation of these restaurants, there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation, apart from putting things on sticks. All the flavors remained essentially identical to other forms of hot pot, yielding the same kind of experience that you can find elsewhere. However, there I one place that has started down an innovative track, and that place is 还是串串.
Located just inside Zhuque Gate, right along the city wall, this restaurant is doing several new things all at once. Let’s start with the basics – the soup. Most places opt for varying degrees of spicy 麻辣, with maybe one pathetic 三鲜 that tastes more of water than anything else. This restaurant has a more varied approach when it comes to soup, offering up some truly unique flavors, including black chicken soup, tomato, fresh Sichuan peppercorn, and lemon. There is still a 麻辣 option as well, for those who still love that flavor. What’s better is that you’re not stuck choosing simply one type of soup. They offer up two styles of pots, one that can hold 2 types of soup and one that can hold three types of soup, so everyone can get something that they like. The pots also portion up the soups in equal amounts, so there’s no crowding more stuff in a tiny pot in the middle. We opted for the lemon, black chicken, and 麻辣 soups, to get a little sampling of each. The lemon soup, came out reminiscent of a Thai tomyum soup and paired very well with seafood.
In addition to changing up the soup game, they’ve also expanded their repertoire of dunkables by having a wide range of different ingredients in different styles, which you can mix and match to your hearts content. Want to try rabbit in your hotpot? They’ve got that. Baby squid? No problem. Beef wrapped around every imaginable type of herb and vegetable. There are at least 10 different options (including beef-wrapped pear, which was an interesting experience). This is in addition to a wide variety of vegetables, tofu, and other additions. It was quite fun trying out the different ingredients with the different soups, trying to make different flavor combinations.
If you’re thirsty while you’re here, you have several options as well. In addition to the usual range of sodas, juices, and other soft drinks, they have a broad selection of unique bottled beers, ranging from 18RMB all the way up to 200RMB, all cold and ready to drink. If you want something a bit more unique, they also have their own craft beer that is on tap right there in the restaurant. The beer menu is constantly rotating, so you will have the opportunity to try out something new each time you visit.
This is definitely the season for hot pot in all of it varieties and this place tends to get packed out very early. You can make reservations, but be sure to arrive on time or your table will be given away. We missed our reservation time due to Xi’an traffic and had to wait an hour until we could be seated. Tables do not turn over very quickly here.
Overall, the experience is good, and the location is great if you are planning on having a night out, as it is located adjacent to many great bars downtown. So, if you’re bored of the typical hot pot and are looking to do some experimentation, this is the place for you.
James is currently living in Xi’an and loving it, from the food to the people.
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