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Chongqing Hotpot

By Bridging News/iChongqing|May 16,2024

Chongqing hotpot. (iChongqing File Photo)

Chongqing hotpot is the staple dish of the city. Hotpot restaurants in Chongqing are everywhere. If you look up on the street you are on, chances are you are standing near a hotpot restaurant. What exactly is hotpot, and why do people like it so much?

Hotpot is like Chongqing itself – intense, spicy, in-your-face with a down-to-earth history. It’s a dish of the natives. There are various tales about the origin of the Chongqing hotpot, and one is widely accepted. At the beginning of the 19th century, at Chongqing Chaotianmen Wharf, one of the busiest places at that time, the boatmen and porters in winter would take the leftover meat from the butcher and boil them in a spicy brew of chilies and numbing Sichuan peppercorns, afterward dipping the cooked food in condiments, creating a delicious dish that quickly spread throughout the city. In those times, Chongqing’s famous bangbang men would carry broth and ingredients on bamboo sticks throughout the city, selling them to passersby who wanted a meal. In those times, the hotpot would be suspended on a bamboo stick over an open fire right on the street.

Today, hotpot has grown and diversified into a culinary art, with prices that run the gamut and choice, fresh ingredients that far outnumber those when hotpot was first born. Mild broths are also available for those who can’t handle spicy food. 

The taste of food can usually reflect the attitude and status of life there. As a symbol of food in Chongqing, people have a sense of integrity and embrace a diversified culture. Everything edible can be cooked in a hotpot, so hotpot is a must-eat when you come to Chongqing!

With its deep historical and cultural roots, Chongqing hotpot is a culinary hallmark of the city. In 2023, Chongqing's hotpot businesses grew by 6.6% to 17,700 enterprises, while restaurants increased by 9.1% to 37,000. Hotpot consumption reached 72 billion yuan ($9.98 billion), making up 31.2% of the city’s dining revenue, with the industry valued at 300 billion yuan. Chongqing supports its hotpot enterprises expanding globally, with around 130 outlets across over 20 countries and regions, including the USA, UK, and Japan. Brands like Dezhuang, Liuyishou, and Xiaotian'e have established international locations.

The hotpot sector connects various industries, significantly impacting local and global markets, boosting employment, and contributing to Chongqing's role as an international consumption city.


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