There are two main varieties of hotpot in China: the seriously spicy kind from the fire-breathing southwestern city of Chóngqìng, and the milder version, often served in an unusual conical brass pot heated by coals. Yáng Fāng is a salt-of-the-earth version of the latter, and is a real favourite with the locals round here.
First order the broth for your pot – clear (清汤锅底; qīng tāng guōde; ¥15), or spicy (辣锅底; là guōde; ¥20). Then ask for some sesame-paste dipping sauce (小料; xiǎo liào; ¥5); each diner should have one. And, if you fancy it, some freshly prepared chilli oil (鲜榨辣椒油; xiān zhá là jiāo yóu; ¥2) to mix into your dipping sauce; one bowl is enough for everyone to share.
Finally, select the raw ingredients to cook in your broth. Our favourites include wafer-thin lamb slices (鲜羊肉; xiān yáng ròu; ¥26), lotus root slices (藕片; ǒu piàn; ¥8), tofu slabs (鲜豆腐; xiān dòufu; ¥6), sweet potato (红薯; hóng shǔ; ¥6) and spinach (菠菜; bō cài; ¥6). No English sign; no English menu; no English spoken.