China’s version of fondue, hot pot experiences are meant to be shared with a good group of friends. It works like this; in the middle of the table is a hole where a “hot pot” of boiling water and oil sits.
Patrons choose from a variety of meats, vegetables and fish to put into the pot. Additionally, you can add in different spices including red chili peppers, basil and my personal favorite, the mouth-numbing Szechuan peppercorn, sending your taste buds into such confusion you’ll think it was a dose of Novocain. Hot potters throw the contents into the boiling oil mixture and after a few minutes and sips of Tsingtao beer it’s time to put your fishing skills and chopsticks to work. Fight your neighbor off and fish out what you’re after before the final step – dunking all that goodness in the spicy peanut sauce. Our Sino-based friend, Rory, said it best, “this sauce is so good, you could dunk a pair of shoelaces in it and it would taste good.”
If you are really lucky or in the know, your hot pot restaurant will come with its very own “noodle ninja.” This samurai noodle-maker will take a ball of dough and knead and stretch the dough into sinewy-thin noodles. Like a raver at an Ibiza nightclub, the noodleman will chuck his edible glowsticks into the boiling pot for you to enjoy with the rest of your meal (check out the video here if you need a visual explanation).