Best enjoyed in one of Chengdu’s many excellent restaurants (look for the tables with a hole in the middle), Sichuan hotpot is a true highlight of the region’s cuisine. Divided into spicy and not-so-spicy halves, more or less chili stews in a broth (lamb, beef, etc.), that waits to be filled with raw, thinly sliced lamb or beef meat, tofu, vegetables, noodles or fish dumplings. Depending on what you put in the broth, it soaks in more or less of the spiciness. Tofu especially soaks in the chili broth like a sponge and can get really challenging. Don’t forget to keep cool drinks close by to extinguish the resulting fire.
Still, Sichuan hotpot is the most fun and entertaining meal I can imaging, especially when enjoyed among friends and family on a large and welcoming table.