With its sleek concrete and dramatic lighting, the entrance to Red Bowl brings to mind that of an exclusive nightclub. The late night vibe continues inside, with Balearic-style beats playing out over a dimly-lit dining space anchored by a large bar at the front and an open kitchen at the back.
The menu at Red Bowl is as well mixed as the house music playing through the speakers, offering a blend of northern, Sichuan, and southern takes on the traditional hot pot experience. However, the real upgrade on hot pot as we know it comes from the drinks menu, featuring Beijing-inspired cocktails (RMB 68) and craft beers on draft (RMB 60), a significant upgrade on the usual “warm Yanjing or baijiu” options. We heartily recommend the Hutong Daiquiri, a potent blend of Plantation 3 Stars rum, strawberry, and Sichuan peppercorn.
Not forgetting about the food, we chose the yuanyang split hot pot base (RMB 78), half spicy Sichuan, half milder wild mushroom. Chili-fiends will find the spicy soup lacks punch, but the depth of the mushroom broth more than makes up for it. Slices of tender lamb leg (RMB 68), a cut above the frozen rolls served in lesser restaurants, melt into the soup in seconds, although our favorite addition was the crunchy beef tendon balls (RMB 48). Seafood lovers won’t be disappointed either, with prices starting from RMB 28 for clams from Dalian, all the way up to the ominous “market price” for fresh lobster and garoupa.
With so many other options around town, was Beijing really crying out for an upscale hot pot restaurant? Perhaps not, yet we find ourselves drawn to the idea of a fine wine or G&T with our hot pot dinner. The crowds of well-heeled young diners filling even the earliest reservations on any given night would seem to agree with us.
Daily 5.30pm-1am. 1/F, Rosewood Beijing, Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou (6536 0066)
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Photos courtesy of Rosewood Beijing
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