SHANGHAI, Oct. 14 -- Up to 100,000 diners were expected to eat at the world's largest hotpot feast last night in southwest China's Chongqing, the birthplace of the hot and spicy stockpot of mutton, beef and vegetables.
Sixty-four restaurants offered to host the feast, and more than 1,000 tables were set up in the open air on Nanbin Road, a popular downtown bar and restaurant area along the banks of the Jialing River, a major tributary of the Yangtze River.
Dezhuang Restaurant, one of the biggest hotpot eateries in Chongqing, was offering a 13-ton pot that serves 56 people at a time, said Zhou Hong, general manager of Dezhuang Industrial Group.
Meanwhile, Qilong Restaurant, whose name translates into "dragon-riding restaurant," prepared a 60-meter-long pot, 6 to 8 meters wide, with room for 152 diners.
The feast started at 7pm and continued until after midnight. For 15 yuan (US$1.9) per person, the diners enjoyed five meat dishes, five vegetable dishes, beer or soft drinks, sources with the organizing committee said.
A government official said the city had tightened security for the event.
The organizing committee had prepared one fire extinguisher for every three tables and at least 200 police were patrolling the open-air feast, said Zhang Shuming, vice secretary-general of the municipal government.
Some citizens, however, have raised concerns over hygiene and food safety, particularly in the wake of several mass food poisoning outbreaks across China in recent weeks.