This is the hottest newcomer in the cutthroat hotpot restaurant scene in China. The heavyweight champaign is Haidilao, but Gelaogong is the new featherweight champion.
The queue for this restaurant is comparable to the Michelin-starred places. The queue can be up to 5-6 hours, but you have many ways to get a queue number and wait in the comfort of your home or offices. As for walk-ins, good luck. The best time to go is the lieu period during the afternoon on the weekdays. But still, you have to wait for around 5-6 tables still.
Decor and Theme
Like all hotpot chains, they need to come up with something different. As the name of the restaurant goes, it focused on serving Sichuan mala hotpot with main ingredients of bullfrogs and fish heads.
In the hotpot base were the bullfrogs. There’s a minimum order of 4 bullfrogs. It’s about 2 frogs per person, but if you are Miss Piggy (i.e. you like frogs), you need to order more Kermits at one go as you need to cook them in the pot right at the beginning. You cannot add more during the course because it takes a while to cook and that could possible cross-contaminate the rest of the ingredients. You may also add the other piece de resistance of the store – their carp fish head, which is also known in Singapore as Song fish head.
In the store was a really large condiment area, with multiple choices for desserts.
The verdict: It’s all hype. There’s nothing special about the soup base or the freshness of the ingredients. The price point hits the spot for the younger crowd, which is the economic mainstay in Shenzhen these days, so they can expect a large following, especially with the influence of social media.
It’s amazing how the Chinese economy works around social media – you get an Influencer 网红 to come and say something nice about your place, a buzz is created, and then everybody treats this as a Must-Go 拔草店. The food just need to be passable, the price must be right and it is quintessential to be instagrammable. Other than that, I am really not impressed by Gelaogong.
Gelaogong Chongqing Bullfrog and Fishhead
Date Visited : Sep 2019