Baby, it’s getting cold outside. While not as bad as further north (we’re looking at you, Harbin), Beijing is certainly feeling the frosty bite of winter. For many of us, hibernating in our toasty homes and giving our thumbs a workout while ordering waimai is the only key to survival. But there are still a few places we’re willing to venture out for. One such place is Gou Gou Guo, a Korean-style hot pot joint nestled in Xingfucun, saving you the trek to Wangjing (or, well, South Korea).
Korean hot pot is something that is often overlooked in Beijing, where there are hot pot variations that cover all of the Chinese provinces and a Haidilao at every turn. Oh, and don’t forget the omnipresent mom-and-pop malatang establishments. So, actually, it’s about time Wangjing shared the love, and gave us another quality Korean joint within the 3rd Ring Road.
Resting on top of a neighborhood favorite noodle joint, Gou Gou Guo’s interior is a cool blend of hipster hygge and traditional Korean. Nevertheless, design means nothing if the food is subpar – we’re here to say that’s definitely not the case here.
We roll in with rosy cheeks, still shivering, but our bellies ready for some hot pot loving. Starting off with some Korean tapas, we order fried chicken (duh, RMB48), spicy ramen (RMB38) and small bowls of fresh kimchi (RMB8 each). The chicken is flaky, tender and full of flavor, though the spicy ramen could’ve been spicier. The kimchi? On point.
On to the good stuff: We get one large bowl of the pork kimchi hot pot (RMB138), which is plenty to feed two people. The staff is on hand to cut up all the vegetables and meat, and set the temperature to the perfect heating point. Essentially, everything runs smooth as a whistle. Being a bit carnivorous, we do wish for more meat, so we order the pork belly skillet (RMB108) to satisfy our craving. And oh, boy – pair this hearty skillet with a draft pint of beer and you’re doing a damn good job of kicking the winter blues to the curb. The two mains satisfy our inner filial piety of getting our daily dose of veggies, as both have plenty of cabbage, mushrooms and more, while letting us indulge in savory and fatty chunks of pork simultaneously. Add some makgeolli (RMB20) while you’re at it, if you’re feeling indulgent like us.
After a dynamite meal, we are jolly and ready to hop across the street to grab post-dinner pints at the nearby Jing-A Brewpub. Gou Gou Guo is a welcomed and affordable addition to the already hoppin’ neighborhood. And since they don’t do waimai, (nor do they take reservations) it’s a great reason to leave your apartment and get your winter soup belly on.
[Images via Andrew Braun for That's]