People know that we’re always looking for neat spots to eat. We got the name and address of Hot Fish Restaurant via a friend’s SMS. When we got to the door, we thought we’d made a mistake. The 90’s-style red carpet wasn’t anyone’s plush welcome. Luckily, it was only the entrance. Hot Fish sits on the second floor, and it’s modern not to mention clean. There were more than a handful of people eating on that Tuesday afternoon—a good sign. We could literally smell the hot spices emanating from the tables. It wasn’t going to be a meal for the weak of stomach. The staff was relaxed in their casual, laid-back, T-shirt uniforms. The menu was great. It had no English, but had plenty of pictures, and the name of each dish was indicated with both characters and pinyin with tones. Our character illiterate friend was in heaven. Food aside, the menu at Hot Fish is a Chinese learner’s dream. Very few places do the pinyin let alone the tones. Someone had put thought into this masterpiece. The one half of the menu with the spicy food was right side up. Turn it around, and the other half has the non-fire variety.
We got a bit of both, and got a couple pitchers of fresh juice, which were almost too colorful to be true (read: real juice). The Spicy Sichuan Bullfrog, and the Sliced Black Fish in Black Pepper Soup were numbing. They came out in big pots practically overflowing with spices. Our waitress had to scoop a lot of the spices out before we could start. The Imperial Tofu and Tofu Skin in soup were bland (in comparison) and greatly appreciated after all the initial heat. We ordered a little too much. The bill came to 314RMB/the four of us. Rumor has it that they’ll open another branch in a couple of months. When they do, folks out to the west should be happy. Picture menu available.