Whenever people make claims like "this place serves Beijing's spiciest hot pot" I am always inclined to disprove them. Half way through my meal at Da Long Jiu Ge, tears in my eyes, sweat misting my brow, I am starting to regret my bullishness.

Da Long Jiu Ge serves authentic Chongqing-style hot pot. Most of the spices and hot pot flavorings are brought in specially from Chongqing. The broth comes in three spice levels: mild, medium and hot. We had a medium broth with some of the chilies removed and it still had steam coming out of our ears; spice fiends will be in their element here. Increase the heat by dipping your cooked meats in a plate of traditional Chongqing gandie, a mix of chili, cumin, pepper, peanuts, sesame, salt and MSG (RMB 6, 大龙干碟).

Meats and vegetables are fresh and good quality, covering the usual selection of beef, lamb, offal and veg, at reasonable prices. A plate of thinly sliced beef steak (RMB 78, 极品牛小排) yields tender, flavorful meat and we surprise ourselves by enjoying a rack of stretchy duck intestines (RMB 28, 鲜鸭肠).

Perhaps more interesting are the "Da Long Specialties", featuring a number of hot pot additions and side dishes that you will struggle to find elsewhere in the city. If you are a masochist, you can add a plate of Da Long spicy fish (RMB 38, 大龙辣辣鱼) to the already searing broth. When you're done, cool down with a bowl of bingfen, a clear jelly made from a plant called Apple of Peru, and served with peanuts and brown sugar syrup (RMB 8, 大龙冰粉). According to Chinese medicine, the plant has cooling properties so is often served with hot pot in Chongqing. 

Da Long Jiu Ge Chongqing Hot Pot
1-5A, 16 Nan Mofang Lu, Jinsong Qiao, Chaoyang Qu (8735 5567)

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Photos: Robynne Tindall

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