Tufeng Bean Hotpot is a local Guiyang landmark that serves perfect hotpot all day and well into the evening. Bean hotpot is a Guiyang specialty, and Tufeng is absolutely the right place to go to get it.
The ambiance of the main restaurant is nice, but not particularly fancy. A wooden storefront, wooden tables and wood-paneled walls strive to make it look like a village restaurant, and the bright red uniforms of staff stand out nicely against all the rich brown.
There’s often a line to get into the restaurant if you go at prime Chinese supper time (5-6 PM), but most other times you can get in without delay. If you do get stuck in a line, tell them how many people are in your group, and grab a number. Stay near the staff and they’ll make sure you get your table even if you don’t hear your number.
It’s no secret that hotpot is my favorite food in the whole world. Tufeng’s bean hotpot was actually my very first meal in Guiyang, years ago, and it has a special place in my heart (stomach?) for that reason.
The other reason is its mouth-watering broth. Bean hotpot is made of kidney beans stewed with cured pork in pork bone broth. When it arrives on the table, it looks darker in color due to a generous layer of hot lard that rises to the top. As it comes to a boil, the lard gets absorbed and the starch from the beans thickens the soup until it reaches a stew-like consistency.
Usually before adding all of the ingredients, we scoop a good serving of broth, kidney beans and pork on top of our little bowls of white rice, so we have something to snack on while we wait for the rest to cook.
The other thing we get to before eating is mixing up lajiao and soup. The lajiao here is pre-mixed by the restaurant, and unfortunately has pieces of zhe’ergen in it. I’m no major fan of this strong-tasting root, but it doesn’t deter me from enjoying a generally very tasty bowl of chilis.
In the photo here, you can see the dipping sauce before and after adding soup. It’s salty and the thick broth transforms it into a substantial dipping sauce. It is not nearly as spicy as many other local restaurants. If you’re new in town, just use a bit of the lajiao mixture and a heap of soup; you’ll be fine.
When you arrive, the server will ask how many people, and suggest a size for the pot of soup. Most times we get the small pot, for up to four or five people. This photo of the menu is actually all checked off from before I handed it in, so I’ll go through what we ordered in the order it’s shown on the menu.
sūròu 酥肉 Crunchy battered pork (pre-cooked, served hot)
bàojiāng niúròu wán 暴奖牛肉丸 Exploding sauce meatballs
I haven’t written about these meatballs before here, so a few notes: they’re very, very processed beef balls with a hollow center that contains oil and broth and sometimes other things. If you get them, stab them with a chopstick before biting in. The high-pressure hot juices inside can be very dangerous.
xiānggūròuwán 香菇肉丸 Mushroom and pork balls
Much like the above meatballs, these are very processed, and I don’t think they taste much like mushrooms or pork. They’re a big hit with lots of people, though, so we order them pretty often.
wāndòujiān 豌豆尖 Pea shoots
Pea shoots are a fabulous leafy green. They have little curly bits sticking out and just a hint of pea-flavor. The stems remain fairly crisp even after cooking, so they add a nice texture to the hotpot.
dòufupí 豆腐皮 Tofu skin
miànjin面筋 Gluten/Bread balls
Tufeng Bean Hotpot doesn’t only attract expat visitors. The restaurant is so popular that it stretches out across three storefronts on Qianling Dong Lu. Two locations are directly beside each other, and the third is just two more storefronts up the road, separated from its sisters by a stubborn dentist’s office. The hotpot haven is located right in the middle of Qianling Dong Lu (黔灵东路) and it’s rather hard to miss, with the bright red neon signs. This photo was taken at 8:30 PM, and although the tables outside are empty, two of the three storefronts still have multiple tables coming in. They won’t take orders after 10 PM, but I’d show up around 9 PM at the latest.