Daohuaxiang (Aranytál Étterem)
Daohuaxiang fuses two contemporary Chinese food trends: spicy food and hot potting. The restaurant draws inspiration from the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, known as the birthplace of spicy hotpot, the communal cooking experience whereby people sit around a boiling broth and cook various meats and vegetables for themselves. Daohuaxiang is a 10-minute cab ride from Budapest's city center, located inside an oversized, utilitarian dining room.
This is the drill: first, you need to walk up to the oversized fridge in the center of the space and select the 5-10 raw ingredients. Mutton is the signature hot-pot meat, which at Daohuaxiang comes in paper-thin slices that need only a quick dunk in the hot liquid before turning light grey to dissolve in the mouth. Otherwise, shrimp, meatballs, tofu, and some vegetables like bok choy and mushrooms are all you need. If you don't mind offals, try also the spicy beef tripe. Unless specified differently, the staff will bring a split pot for the broths. One is a mild chicken stock, the other, teeming with chili, is quite the opposite. The “medium” chili heat at Daohuaxiang would knock most Westerners off their feet, so I recommend that you stick to the low level.
Daohuaxiang isn't cheap—if you get too excited about all that’s to try here, it’s easy to rack up a bill of over €35 per person (the colors of the bowls denote price categories). It's most economical to go with a larger group and share the price of the broths. Also, as with other Chinese restaurants, try go on the earlier side, around 6:30 p.m., before the restaurant clears out.