The Luo Luo Hot Pot Restaurant (貴州籮籮酸湯魚) on Ghost Street (Gui Jie 簋街) in Beijing serves steamboat with a sour soup base. The dish is a traditional dish from the Miao Ethnicty (苗族) of Guizhou (貴州) located in the mountainous south-western region of China. Neighboring places include Hunan and Sichuan. I was really curious about Guizhou cuisine, plus the restaurant has a lot of accolades on its wall – like it was the Top Ten Potential Unique Cuisine in 2010 Bejing Food Year, so I decided to give it a try.
The soup based arrived in a basin – the basin is so big you can wash your face in it without spilling any water outside the basin.
And like what it’s advertised for, the soup is indeed sour. VERY SOUR. The sourish taste is from the result of natural fermentation from tomatoes and it’s no surprise you see lots of tomatoes in the soup along with other vegetables and herbs. The sourish taste is almost like cooked vegetable that has gone bad but without the funny smell. It may not be something that everyone can stomach but it’s a very healthy thing, most likely due to (my unproven theory of) all the useful enzymes that’s released during the process of fermentation. Guizhou is also known for a “longevity village” where many have an average age of 70 years old and above. The daily sour soup is thought to contribute to this longevity.
The steamboat ingredient is pretty much standard with any steamboat restaurants – vegetables, meat balls, fish, chicken, etc.
First our fish goes in.
And now with everything else added in, the soup is boiling away! By now the soup is less sourish with all the ingredients diluting the sour taste.
We ordered two other side dishes – the wood ear mushroom with vinegar sauce,
and Sichuan style konnyaku, also known as “devil’s taro” (moyu 魔芋) in Sichuan. Konnyaku is made from plant root extracts, gelatinous, tasteless and extremely healthy because it’s high in fiber and almost no calories. The Sichuan konnyaku is more sticky and chewy than Japanese konnayaku which tends to be more crunchy. Like all the dishes from Sichuan, the dish is very spicy and numbing!
There’s a lot of condiments available – chili powder, fresh chili, fermented tofu (red and white), sesame oil and more.
The creamy white-sesame sauce is the main condiment that helps to neutralize the sourness of the food.
My mix of condiments.
Our bottle of fresh lemon juice.
Here is a few pages from the menu with steamboat items,
and other stir fry dishes.
The restaurant’s interior.
While the sourness of the soup was a shock to me at first – I think it’s even more sour than tom-yam soup, I got used to it and even began to embrace it by the end of the meal. If you are an adventurous person and like to try different cuisines, the sour soup steamboat may be just the thing for you 🙂
Luo Luo Hotpot Official Website
Getting there : The branch we went to was branch six; it’s on one end of Ghost Street. You can reach there via the Dongzhimen MRT Station (about 200 – 300 m walk from the station). But you should be able to see a few more branches along Ghost Street.