Family Style Hot Pot

So over Halloween weekend, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we decided to go out for a nice and socially distanced meal with friends. We had also been meaning to try something for a long time and that was hot pot–but like, real hot pot. See we’d been to places before where you could order individual hot pot bowls but not do it in the tradition family style, make-it-yourself way. This time, we went to an actual hot pot place–and this time it was AYCE (all you can eat).

So first of, I love that this place was following all proper safety protocols for the time of covid–as were the customers. People were seated SO far apart, and masks were required by all staff and all customers (unless they were eating). It was refreshing to see people actually following public health guidelines and helped the anxiety of going out to eat in the first place. But of course ya’ll aren’t here to listen to the protocols, you’re here for the food!

So we mostly let our two friends who introduced us to the hot pot place, order for the first round. We got spicy broth and a divider–mostly because one of our friends can’t eat beef. The staff was super friendly and quick, and always accommodating to our requests. Our first round consisted of…literally everything. We had selections of meat, dumplings, fish cakes, spam, and vegetables galore. Everything was served in fair portions, and we immediately got to cooking. You have to be super careful when you cook things though. You can’t just go throw everything in all at once. If you were to just dump in all the ingredients at once, not only would food not cook as quickly, but it’d also make the broth completely boil over and make a complete mess. We didn’t necessarily stuff our hot pot too much, but we did have way too much broth so even just a few too many slices of beef would cause it to start boiling over. So we ended up scooping out some of the broth just to lower the water level.

The food itself? Perfection. It’s so satisfying to be able to cook your own food, and everything was delicious. Admittedly, I didn’t always know what was what. There were many dumpling items that our friends ordered and all were delicious but almost everything was like “hmm…what is this?” I will say one of my favorite things was the lamb dumpling–absolutely delicious and when the dumplings soaked up the broth it was just delightful. All the beef was also perfect! I don’t like super fatty cuts of meat–the texture always bothers me. So I love places that do thinly sliced beef for hotpot or barbeque. I want to eat all of it. The seafood was also amazing–there was this fishcake that was just so delicious–so soft, so flavorful. It was so good. The plethora of vegetables were naturally good, though you had to eat them faster as they’d get waterlogged way easier. The cabbage in particular you didn’t want to cook for too long or else it as just kinda meh. The green onion though? Delicious! And the lotus root. THE LOTUS ROOT. We had to get that both rounds.

Speaking of the rounds, we honestly were almost completely stuffed by the time we’d eaten the entire first round–in fact, we still had a few dumplings floating around. The second round wasn’t ordered to be as robust. Instead we just chose any last things we wanted to eat. For me that was just some bok choy to get more leafy greens when we’d just indulged in so much protein. After that though I was happily sated. Star got herself some pumpkin.

Overall, we spent over two hours at the place, but not because service took forever…we were just thoroughly enjoying our time, cooking and eating delicious food. I honestly was very happy with the experience and totally stuffed by the end. I definitely would like to go out and eat hot pot again–preferably in the future when we don’t have a pandemic to worry about. While the safety protocols made me feel good, and we’re all fine even after two weeks, it’s disconcerting to be driving around and seeing people not wearing masks. The place was perfectly fine…other people continue to disappoint me.

Still, loved the hot pot. 10/10 recommend you experiencing it ‘family-style’, and please–for the love of all that is good in the world–wear a mask.

Stay safe out there