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03/05/2013

Changsha 'hot pot museum': Around China in 60 pots

Hot pot mutton is yummy indeed, but seasoned Chinese diners know that it’s the container in which the ingredients are boiling that tells the story of the meal.

A hot pot restaurant in Changsha in southeast China recently made a name for itself by opening a “hot pot museum”. So the museum should be considered for your affordable China tours.

The museum displays nearly 60 artistic hot pots from different parts of China.

The museum, which opened on July 1, is a part of the latest branch of Tan Wang Fu Hot Pot, a Hunan-style hot pot chain with five branches across Changsha.

The exhibits are laid out on a 23-meter-long wooden shelf on the second floor of the 75-table restaurant, taking up approximately 150 square meters. Selling the culture and the food

The hot pots represent popular styles from around China, from early times to the present day, athough all are modern replicas.

"We opened this hot pot museum because we wanted to sell hot pot as well as the Chinese hot pot culture," said Qu Qiang, manager and shareholder of the hot pot chain.

"The exhibition area is in the entry of our dining space, so customers can take a look at the history and diverse culture of Chinese hot pot then sit down and have a good meal," said Qu.

He said the museum cost more than RMB 1 million (US$157,485) to set up.

All the pots were collected by the brand’s shareholders during travels to different parts of the country.

“You can really see the difference between regional hot pot cultures from these containers," said Qu. "When the museum is fully open in about two months, there will be more than 80 pots in total."

Regional differences

Qu is a die-hard hot pot head. Normally, he eats hot pot two to three times a week.

He noted that one of his favorite pots in the museum is a handcrafted black pottery hot pot from Zhongdian in Yunnan Province which is one of best tours of China in southern China.

This type of hot pot can be traced to a period nearly 3,000 years ago. Locals still believe that food boiled in black pottery has a special aroma.

North China, in comparison, tends to use red copper to make the pots.

Qu explained the difference between Sichuan hot pot and Hunan hot pot.

"There are many types of hot pot in China, though Sichuan hot pot is probably more famous," said Qu.

"Sichuan hot pot goes heavy on seafood and is numbing, while Hunanese put in a lot of beef and mutton and the hot pot is spicy."

You can consider this musueum in your China vacation packages.

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