“吃了吗” (chī le ma), so goes the ancient Chinese greeting. Literally meaning “Have you eaten?”, “吃了吗?” is actually used to ask how someone is, the implication being that someone who has eaten must be doing well (of course!). While the saying may have lost its intention in everyday language, the greeting is a clear reflection of China’s fixation with food – and the inspiration behind our latest series: Have You Eaten?
Boasting an impressive eight cuisines across its many distinct regions, the Middle Kingdom is bursting with culinary diversity, causing both confusion and friction when it comes to dinner time. Luckily for you, we’ve put in the legwork to bring you a series of standout restaurants that have made it onto our very own list of favorites. Delving headfirst into the gastronomic narrative, here is the story of RED BOWL.
The latest addition to elegant Rosewood Beijing, RED BOWL offers a one-of-a-kind hot pot experience in the heart of the capital. But first things first, what is Chinese hot pot?
Hotpot at RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
A firm favorite throughout the nation, hot pot traces its history back to times of barbaric rule over a millennium and a half ago. Upon setting up camp for the evening, voyaging Mongol horsemen would use the heat from the fire to simmer soup in their helmets and sear meat upon their shields, making for a comforting and replenishing meal. Spreading throughout Northern China, this process was adapted by dipping vegetables and seafood into a flavorsome broth to cook. Thankfully, helmets were soon swapped out for metal pots – much more sanitary! With a communal pot in the middle of the table, this method of cooking is regarded as a sociable experience and adds an element of fun with its DIY aspect.
A selection of premium-quality meats at RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
As the craze spread, so did creativity. Stretching from the East China Sea to the mountains of Sichuan, hot pots have been adapted and constantly reinvented to reflect the flavors and ingredients of the local region. For example, a visit to Chongqing will see diners burning their lips on the area’s famed pepper-laden broth. Indeed, hot pots embody the diversity of Chinese cuisine, which bring us back to the dilemma of choice…
That’s where RED BOWL comes in. With the admirable goal of creating a world-class experience that appeals to everyone, they’ve reinvigorated the traditional hotpot without sacrificing any of its raw authenticity. But with more hotpot jaunts than you can shake a stick, what is it about RED BOWL’s story that has got us so hooked?
1. They make hotpot accessible for all tastes and styles.
Unlike other restaurants that focus on a specific cuisine with one variety of broth, RED BOWL offers six options, each as lip-smackingly tasty as the next. Pair this with an extensive range of dipping sauces and you have an unapparelled hot pot experience. Don’t worry though, the RED BOWL staff are experts when it comes to pairing the broth to the perfect sauce. Scared of spice? Not a problem. RED BOWL has three spice-free flavors.
Green Pepper Stock at RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
2. They make hot pot chic and fun.
While nothing makes up for poor flavor, we’re firm believers that dining is a multisensory experience and always find ourselves drawn to restaurants that offer both delicious food and great atmosphere. From the second you walk into RED BOWL, the vibe is chic and classy without feeling stuffy. Set upon a backdrop of graffiti-clad walls and smooth hip hop, the space reflects today’s China with its fusion of modernity and tradition. For a spot of fun, take a peek at the cocktail menu. While a slightly unusual pairing for hot pot, these cocktails have been carefully crafted to complement the dishes. Be sure to try the spicy Hot Monkey Vespa which pairs perfectly with the heat of the food.
The chic interiors of RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
3. They use phenomenal ingredients.
Impressively, an abundance of choices doesn’t hamper the quality, with broths that are left bubbling overnight to intensify the flavors and ingredients that are hand selected by Chef de Cuisine Zhu Qing. As well as locally sourced ingredients, RED BOWL makes a bold statement with imported Australian Wagyu Beef and Inner Mongolian Lamb Leg Roll. Plus, with a focus on nothing but the crème de la crème, the scallops are massive and delicious and the fish cheese ball is to die for. Then, guests can wash it all down with inventive takes on classic cocktails to round off their dining experience in style.
A platter of seafood at RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
The Gin and Tonic at RED BOWL | Picture by Rosewood Beijing
We can’t wait to go back.