Once in, you first choose the spiciness level of your broth and the number of frogs; four is the minimum frog quantity. Then, pick your other hot pot staples. The frog itself is great, with a subtle flavor and a texture somewhere between fish and chicken that really lends itself to the rich spiciness of good hot pot. It can take a while to get used to eating these bony cuts when they’re piping hot and drenched in chili oil, but once you do there’s enough meat here to get plenty of satisfying mouthfuls. Watch out for whole Sichuan peppercorns hiding in the joints and crevasses.
After you finish the frog, you progress to a classic Chongqing-style hot pot that does the job just fine, but it isn’t anything that’s worth lining up a couple hours for. It’s the frog that has people waiting in the street. Make sure to eat through that first before adding any of your other hot pot ingredients. Frog is at its best when it’s freshly cooked through and firm; leave it in the boiling broth too long and it’ll end up overcooked and mushy, losing any of its texture.
In all, you’ll pay 100-150rmb without drinks, if you don't overorder. So in the end, is Ge Lao Guan’s frog hot pot worth a wait that might be longer than the time you’ll spend at your table? If you love spicy frog, you could make a case for a one-off, off-peak visit. If you’re looking for mind-blowing hot pot, maybe not so much.
Ge Lao Guan, 798 Dingxi Lu, near Yan'an Xi Lu. Click here for details.