What is hot pot, you may ask?
A wholesome meal with a soup base and dipping ingredients (meat and vegetables.) It is a comfort food worth trying, especially during the fall and winter months when it’s cold and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest.
Hot pot originated in China – making it a fan favorite in East Asian cuisine. It has since made its way to Western society and has become a fun activity you can enjoy with a person of your choice or with family, friends and/or colleagues combined!
I was introduced to hot pot from a gentleman who relocated to Seattle from Pennsylvania about four years ago. Believe it or not, I did not know what hot pot was and I was eager to try it! Since then, I have introduced hot pot to my friends who have never tried it and they ended up liking it as much as I do.
There is a slight difference between a shared hot pot and a ready-made hot pot. What are the differences?
Shared hot pot: A shared soup base with meat and vegetables for dipping. There is a divider in between the pot that allows you to choose and enjoy two different soup bases which makes sharing a social meal. However, there are some places that provide your own individual soup base with meat and vegetables to share.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Beef, pork belly, and seafood are presented raw as well as the fresh vegetables. The true art of hot pot comes when you get to cook the meat and vegetables in the soup base!
- Meat is cooked a bit longer than the vegetables. It is recommended that you blanch the vegetables and have them cook 1-3 minutes before taking them out, as you do not want to overcook them.
- You get to choose the quantity of how much you want and it is brought out to you! The menus are laminated with a dry erase market or on a rectangular small sheet with a pen. Choosing one as the quantity is enough for two people.
- For shared hot pot, I advise all-you-can-eat or AYCE! Usually all-you-can-eat ranges from $23-$28 per person. AYCE is a bit of a cost saver than choosing the menu items individually.
- Hot pot is meant to be an enjoyable experience – take your time cooking the ingredients and pace yourself while eating!
Ready-made hot pot: Soup bases that already have all the meat and vegetables in the soup base served over a medium/low fire. It’s all ready to go and all you have to do is eat without cooking!
Top 5 HotPot Places
Bellevue, WA near Crossroads and in Downtown Seattle International District
My first hot pot experience – it was originally named Little Sheep before it changed to Happy Lamb. It’s a Mongolian Taiwanese style authentic hotpot, serving two soup bases – original and spicy Szechuan. If you love spicy food, I definitely recommend the Szechuan broth!
Bellevue, WA on NE 20th Street
This Chinese modern restaurant features white furnishings and comfy booths. They have at least five soup bases to choose from (anywhere from Taiwanese spicy to chicken broth!) Instead of sharing soup bases, you get your own soup base – vegetables and meat are shared. They have appetizing snacks, from chicken karaage to seaweed salad, as well as bubble tea, hot teas, and soda.
While most hot pot places have one or two stoves, this place has four at each table due to individual pots.
Bellevue, WA on 8th Street near Crossroads and Shoreline, WA on Aurora Ave.
While I have not been to the one in Shoreline, this place is a new addition to the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. It features a modern base décor. They, too, also serve an individual soup base with meat and vegetables shared.
This place serves hot pot and dim sum – the best of both worlds if you’re craving one or both! My experience here was welcomed with warm staff members and they took the time to explain their menu as well. While they do not have all-you-can-eat, the hot pot was pretty fantastic as well as the dim sum. The ambience is classy and comfortable.
Tasty Pot serves a ready-made hot/soup pot, similar to Boiling Point! There are at least 12 ready-mades to choose from (e.g. beef, lamb and seafood to Thai, Japanese and Kimchi broth). They also serve bubble tea!