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  • Atmosphere: Quan Er is a smart little beef hotpot restaurant nestled in amongst many on Dingxi Lu. It’s very much a modern hotpot joint, spread over two floors with slick design, big cuts of beef hanging behind the window to the kitchen, and a large window at the front to draw in passersby and let in a lot of natural light. It’s also popular, and likely busy whether you visit for lunch or dinner.

    Atmosphere is generally one of calm, languorous hotpot enjoyment rather than the boisterous, boozy, big-group variety. It’s the kind of hotpot you could do as a date, but is probably best suited to a laidback dinner with a small group of friends.

    Food: The specialty here is Chaoshan hotpot, a specific variety native to the eponymous area of Guangdong province that is all about beef, beef, beef. The broth is light and transparent, but flavored with beef for a warming, meaty richness. Beef is also the focus of the ingredients that you cook in the broth itself, with a variety of different cuts available. In general, it’s a lot less heavy on oil and spicy than what you probably picture when you think of hotpot, so can be a great option for those who are generally turned off by it.

    With dishes like this how good it all is comes entirely down to the quality of the meat, and for the price that’s something that Quan Er delivers. Despite keeping prices relatively average for hot pot – you’re probably looking at RMB 100 to RMB 150 a person – the cuts of beef are plentiful and good quality. The same goes for the veggies and other hotpot staples. It’s a perfect warming winter meal when you’re looking for hotpot but don’t want to kill yourself with spice.

    Service: Service is also typical of a modern hotpot place, in that it’s very good – staff are polite and bring along your sauce ingredients and dishes like well-oiled machines.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.