It was around 6PM when my stomach started devouring itself. While I lamented about not wanting fast food, my friend offered an alternative to the regular restaurant scene, Hot Pot. Hot Pot? I had to ask my friend to repeat the phrase, because I had honestly never heard of a Hot Pot before.
Hot Pot is a Chinese cuisine that goes way beyond your regular restaurant experience. When you enter a Hot Pot restaurant, you and a friend are seated in front of a simmering pot where, you will actually be able to choose and prepare the food you will eat. It intrigued me.
You can enter a Hot Pot restaurant, choose any food, make your own sauce, and the best part – cook it yourself! There was no way I would let this experience pass. I accepted immediately.
Hot Pot is a widely celebrated dish in China and Japan, but never fear–we have Hot Pot in New York as well! Within the backstreets of Flushing sits the Hot Pot Restaurant Spring Shabu Shabu, and that’s exactly where I went.
As I entered Spring Shabu Shabu and peered at the simmering metal pots in which I would have to prepare my own food, apprehension took over – I uttered a quick prayer that I would not burn the place down.
Now, I would definitely not call myself a Hot Pot master, but I did learn a few tips and tricks that will make your meal more enjoyable:
1.) Pick Your Broth Wisely (Important!)
I cannot stress how important this step is! There are many different flavored broths, and the broth you choose will remain with you for the rest of the meal. It is this broth that you will use to simmer and boil the different meats and veggies that you choose. They gave me the choice between fish and pork broth. I ordered the pork broth and it was great!
2.) Pick Your Meat (Optional)
For an additional price, you can pick a meat or seafood entrée. The meat in the long run will add to the flavor of your meal and broth altogether (you’re literally the artist of this meal). I chose the chicken, and my friend chose beef, and we shared. I honestly preferred the beef over the chicken. Pick it! Pick the beef! It is way easier to prepare and tastes way better. I also learned a trick – when the beef starts turning brown its ready – you’re welcome.
3.) Make Your Way Over To The Buffet Table
This is the simple part – stock up, literally. I have no tips for this part, just stock up on all the veggies, noodles and dumplings your heart desires
4.) Mix Your Heart Out
Sauce!! You will be given a sauce cup where you will be able to construct your own sauce in order to dip the goodies you got from the buffet table. Mine consisted of soy sauce, an amazing spicy sauce and a couple of other seasonings. *Get artistic with it*
5.) Boil! Boil! Bubble! Bubble!
This is the greatest part of all! Now you can start cooking the food you’ve collected.(ALERT!) before you place any of your goodies in the hot pot, please make sure that its boiling. As the saying goes, “If its not roiling its not boiling.” You can get away with under cooked veggies, but make sure the meats change color before you eat them. Otherwise, have fun and eat, eat, eat!
6.) Free Unlimited Ice Cream
FUN FACTS: Hot Pot is a traditional Chinese dish which goes back more than 1,000 years! If you’re a vegetarian, this is definitely the place for you! If you’re a foodie, you will love the experience of eating Hot Pot. Hot Pot is an amazing and social event so, make sure to take a friend or two so that you can laugh and tease each others cooking styles! Happy Eating!