Guangzhou – Our favourite hot pot restaurant here in Amsterdam looks quite similar to what you’d find in a similar location back in the mainland: white walls and bamboo furniture, with the signature hood absorbing the strong smells of meat, spicy sauces and tofu that emerge from the tabletop cooker.
Our new favourite hot pot restaurant, though, looks nothing like that: with a rainbow of electroplated steel next to heavy slabs of sculptural white concrete that look suspended on air, Guangzhou’s Hi, Miss Rong looks more like a trippy Jem and the Holograms set than a folk-food spot.
The current hospitality business model in China requires both popularity and branding
To Infinity Mind, the studio behind the proposal, it makes perfect sense. Sichuan hot pot used to be a popular street food throughout the country, which vendors ran as informal operations. With the rapid urban growth of China, hot pot lagged behind the development of the contemporary hospitality industry, which has provided unique dining experiences to a younger generation less interested in traditional culture.
‘The current business model in China requires both popularity and branding,’ explained Infinity Mind’s Wang Xiaowen. ‘In such an environment, it’s important for small businesses or even traditional businesses to improve upon cultural tradition and innovate with contemporary aesthetics and address the need for social development. So, four us, this was a contemporary aesthetic experiment.’