At Pao Pao, customers sit around a bar which holds small hot pots for one or two. This is great for when you want hot pot but lack an eating partner, since it's really strange to go to a normal hot pot restaurant by yourself and even with two people your ordering options are very limited by your appetites. Pao Pao is billed as Taiwan style hot pot.
I pulled up a stool last week. First up was a standard youdie of sesame oil and chopped garlic. It came out with a dusting of msg, and I got them to replace it with an msg-free version. Behind, an order of wood ear mushroom.
They have a good selection of soups but not all of them were available when I went. I chose a suan la (sour and spicy) flavoured soup, an order of shrimp balls, tofu skin, and some vegetables.
The vegetables were all clean and fresh and I was impressed with size of the servings, since most vegetables were only three yuan each. The shrimp balls were the processed fish kind, and I didn't like them at first but once they got soft in the soup they were more interesting. The soup, unfortunately, was like slightly spicy msg water without much flavour. Since hot pot restaurants distinguish themselves with their soup, this is a major failing. Some of their other soup flavours may be worth trying, but on the other hand there are plenty of other great places to eat in the neighbourhood.
Name in Chinese: 泡泡
Address: 红瓦寺共和村商务楼 1-25