Longing for China - Qian Zhou Hotpot

Having lived three years in China, I developed  a taste for truly authentic Chinese food. But this is the first misnomer. People fail to appreciate that China is vast with varying climates and subcultures As a result, there are distinctly different cuisines. Loosely speaking, there are 8 main types of Chinese cuisine as represented by these regions: Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Anhui. Of course this will vary from travel guide to travel guide, so do not quote on me on it. However, moving on. Knowing all of this, it should now give one an idea of how varied Chinese food is. Yes, much more to it than Americanised 'chow mein' and 'kung pao chicken'.

The closest landmark to Qian Zhou is  Philippine House, a popular restaurant  on Najda Street. As you stand outside Philippine house, just a take a couple of steps forward and see the the sign, Qian Zhou Hotpot. So, how would I describe the cuisine here? Well, it is a hotpot restaurant that caters for varied tastes.

Some of the sources available to you. 

The restaurant is very kitschy.
For those who have never had this simple but overwhelmingly good experience, the concept is this: a pot with broth over a burner to which you add your chosen meat and vegetables. Think of fondu, but less fattening and more nutritious. You then create your own source from a station with various sources and condiments. I opted for the peanut and soya sauce with a of salt and I got two pots - one a beef soup and the other a spicy broth, and ordered lamb, beef, Chinese cabbage, Chinese spinach, tofu and broccoli. They also have a variety of noodles, but I chose the rice.

Rolls of beef

Fresh Chinese spinach.
The overall taste is very authentic. But because the restaurant is unlicensed. you will miss out on the pleasure of having an ice cold beer with your hot pot, which is the way it should be enjoyed.

The final verdict? Yes, the restaurant is kitschy.  The owners have clearly made an attempt to attract as many customers possible. I have been here about 4 times though, and there are not many Chinese customers. Never a good sign. The service is atrocious. Look beyond all of this. I think it is still worth a visit. But the again I am biased: My longing for China made this an enjoyable evening for me.