I have to admit loving places where the attraction is “something to do or look at” in addition to great food, and Beijing Hot Pot sure meets that criteria.
Like most people who have spent time in China, I am usually super critical of “Americanized” Chinese food, but sitting at Beijing Hot Pot, trust me on this, you could just as easily be anywhere in China – it’s that authentic.
What is “hot pot?” Think “Chinese fondue”. But it’s not cheese, it’s a boiling cauldron of spicy (or not) broth at your table, and amply stacked plates of meats, vegetables, and / or seafood that one cooks in the broth. There are plenty of options no matter which way you lean on the ‘vore’ scale.
We started with both steamed and fried dumplings, with traditional dumpling dipping sauces, including vinegar.
The server brings the broth to your table, which has a gas-heated bowl, divided into two pots, and pours the broth into the pots. In a matter of minutes, the broth is at a full boil, and you are ready to cook!
There’s beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, and a host of noodles to put into the broth. The wait staff and owner are very friendly, and further instruction is available from them or on the menu, if you are in need of coaching.
The cooking food adds even more flavor to the broth, and if you defer adding the noodles until late in the game, they become an exclamation point to the experience!
Chinese and Taiwanese beers are available, as well as soft drinks, and tea, of course.
This would be a great place for a first date, as cooking together is a great bonding experience (or makes up for any lulls in the conversation).
This is the weekend before Chinese New Year, and as we head into the year of the dragon, Hot Pot was a great way to celebrate the holiday, and for me, personally, a time to drift back to my pleasant memories of living in China.
The bill for four was $85., and worth every yuan, er penny!
Go, eat, laugh, enjoy.