On Fridays and Saturdays, Hot Kitchen's hot pot tables are in high enough demand that you may want to make a reservation. Weeknights are easier to score. Here's a look at what you can expect.
'hot pot' on Serious Eats
The recent cold snap has us craving soup something fierce, but you know what's better than soup? A giant, communal soup pot in the center of the table that lets you cook all your ingredients to your liking. We're talking about hot pot, Chinese-style fondue, and we want to know where you get it.
The are two broths at Mister Hotpot: a spicy one with lots of chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, what have you, and a not-spicy one. You can order one broth for your meal or split the pot and get both. While the spicy broth is perfectly fine, it's that non-spicy "special broth," made with pork bones and various spices—cinnamon, star anise, and a more esoteric Chinese spice called cai guo, that will outperform most. It is the most important thing about Mister Hotpot, this broth of theirs.
Hot pot has never been in short supply in New York City, but that didn't stop Little Sheep, a big-in-China, Mongolia-based chain from opening its first local branch in Flushing.
A few years back, Fergus Henderson of London's St. John restaurant introduced the glory of sticky, rich, pig's foot broth to the masses (see Henderson's recipe for "Trotter Gear" in the delightful The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating). Chef/owner Himi Okajima of Hakata Tonton in the West Village agrees with Henderson's unbridled love of trotters—so much so that he's built an entire restaurant out of it. Nearly every item on the menu (save for dessert) features tonsoku broth, or collagen-rich nuggets of braised foot.
Popular with a younger crew, thanks to their student discount, the often-crowded café has a presence in all of the city's major Chinatowns: Sunset Park's, Flushing's, and of course Manhattan's.
Before there was Sudafed, there was Sichuan hot pot. Central China's answer to fondue, a steaming pot of fiery broth, bobbing with dried chilis and peppercorns is a powerful decongestant. I guess I wasn't the only person feeling the...
Editor's note: Yesterday, Grub Street posted about Emperor Japanese Tapas Shabu Restaurant in Chinatown, remarking that it had "somehow completely eluded reviewers and bloggers." Well it just so happens that our man Joe DiStefano ate there last week and filed...