Hot pot is a BIG deal in China, and in my experience at least is the go to food for most Chinese people on birthdays and celebrations. Rumour has it that hot pot came about from Mongol soldiers cooking meat in their helmets (smirk) due to lack of cookers whilst raping and pillaging.
Chinese hot pot essentially comes in two varieties, individual, or shared. Shared hot pot usually comes in a jing yang bowl, half spicy, half not.
Like anything, cost can be from really expensive, to really cheap. The last one I went to was 21 RMB, or $3 and included unlimited drinks (it was not the best Chinese hotpot there is). I
You then pick a sauce (usually peanut based) and grab a load of food to throw onto your piping hot bowl (the soup can be as spicy as you want it)
You then pick a load of stuff, meats vegetables, fish, tofu and throw it into your pot until it’s cooked. Enjoy at leisure!
Finally though, cheap doesn’t always win the day! At said 3 buck place in Majiawan we managed to get fake shrimp. Not very nice, but you gotta admire that the Chinese can fake so much stuff and still keep it profitable.
And that’s a very short guide on doing hot pot in Xian and beyond from the Street Food Guy himself!