In this post, I will be talking about my first time at a hot pot place and my thoughts on the whole experience. So get ready for a post full of food pictures!
What is it?
Hot pot is a really awesome eating experience, and I’m so sad I hadn’t experienced it sooner! Hot pot, believed to have originated in Eastern China, involves a bowl of broth that is brought over and heated right on your table. You then have options of meat and vegetables to put into your hot pot.
To celebrate my graduation from dental hygiene school, my friend wanted to take me out to a hot pot place in New York City, but the traffic going there was insane at the time. Instead, we opted to go to a different place, but basically the same concept – Beijing Hot Pot, located in Rutherford, New Jersey.
It was a rather small place, but it was very neat and showed its oriental charm. The aroma drifting in the air was amazing, and we couldn’t wait to order.
A Somewhat Overwhelming Menu
We were given this menu. You can choose a variety of ingredients to add to your hot pot, from slices of meat or fish to vegetables like cucumber, broccoli, spinach, etc.
Feeling adventurous? There’s plenty of other ingredients you might’ve not even known of or eat on a daily basis that you can try! My friend ordered the black fungus (which you’ll see in the corner of my food pic of the sesame cake below), which apparently didn’t taste bad at all.
If you don’t want to cook your food via the hot pot of broth, you can order grilled food as well, although that option is a little more limited. Beverage offerings varied from water, soda, and Snapple (excuse their spelling), to bubble tea and other tea related things.
Step 1: Combo.
I chose the Seafood combo. Whatever one you choose, it comes with a side of tofu, udon noodles, mushrooms, broccoli, and lettuce.
Step 2: Broth.
I chose Original. I’m not really sure how to explain what the original flavor tasted like, but it had something like a muted miso soup kind of flavor. There were a few green onions, carrots, and one random date in it.
Step 3: Dipping Sauce.
For this one, I ticked off both sesame and garlic dipping sauce (shown below respectively), which I didn’t end up using…
The sesame sauce surprised me because it had a kick to it… there a bit of spice to it.
Step 4: Other Add-Ons.
I chose fish filet, crab stick, enoki mushrooms, beef. I’d have to say the beef was my favorite besides the udon noodles! Combined with the broth, it just tasted so soft and savory. It cooked quickly too, so I was able to put one in after another.
Fish ball, sesame cake.
The sesame cake really just tasted a bit like buttered toast with sesame on top.
Sakura rose bubble tea. I LOVE bubble tea and I like to try new things. So, I got the sakura rose flavor and I’m so glad I did. It wasn’t too sweet and it was very creamy.
Dumplings. I chose the chicken option over beef.
The white circular shapes below are lotus roots (my friend chose this but I just stole a picture of it!). Lotus roots have several health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, improve digestion, and more!
We had an incredibly full table by the time all the food arrived.
We were instructed to not to stuff the pot with food, but to put in 5 or 6 pieces of food at a time so they can cook evenly and thoroughly. The beef cooks within 30 seconds, and vegetables cook within a minute to a minute and a half. It was hard not to just stuff it with everything because we were starving!
I was sad because they gave us a straining ladle so I couldn’t get the broth into my bowl! Nevertheless, I could still taste the broth with the food. It was so delicious!
My first time at a hot pot place was fantastic! I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried hot pot before and would like to do something new. It’s a different experience for sure, and the food is delicious!
We had brought along another friend who also never had hot pot. She was apprehensive about trying some of the strange looking food we had ordered, but ultimately came around in the end and ended up taking a liking to the things we got.
Pro Tip: Don’t order a lot of food just because you’re starving! That’s what my girl friends and I did and we were stuffed halfway into cooking all the ingredients. I always try to eat everything I order but there was just no way I could finish everything (some people say I eat like a bird but I disagree!)… and I left some beef behind. So think with your mind, not your stomach!
Have you ever had hot pot before? If not, do you think this is something you’d like to try? Feel free to share your experience(s)!