ot pot features large during birthdays, family gatherings, office parties, wintertime dining, and even inspired a human-sized version to bathe in, but the popular dish wouldn’t exist if one Chinese food critic had his way.
Chua Lam, a Hong Kong cookbook author, restaurant reviewer, and TV personality known as the Food God, caused internet outrage to boil over after he dismissed hot pot as “culturally insignificant.”
In a December 2018 episode of the Chinese entertainment show Tian Tian Wen Shang (天天问上), the hosts asked a panel what dish they would like to see go extinct, and Chua replied: “hot pot.”
“You cut up food and throw it in,” Chua said. “How can it be delicious?”
The backlash was immediate online. One commenter on Weibo wrote: “The kind of person who does not want hot pot is deeply scornful of people.”
“Do you know the complexity of the ingredients? It can be as many as 20 to 30 kinds, a mix of seasoning, measurements, and heat,” wrote another. “How is this not art? The soup base is also very hard (to make), so please use your brain next time!”
Multiple forms of hot pot exist in China, with the spicy Chongqing style arguably being the most famous. Other regional varieties include Sichuan, Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, Ningxia, and Taiwanese.
The dish is so culturally ingrained that it recently spawned a life-size recreation of it in Chongqing for people to soak in, complete with props.
But Chua is no stranger to making provocative comments. In the same show, he joked that many people’s wives are not good cooks.