While it’s usually best to leave the cooking to trained professionals when dining out, Mongolian hot pot is so drop dead easy that even a careful, chopstick-wielding toddler could handle it. Hot Pot, Hot Pot, a brightly-lit and well-serviced communal soup hall in Monterey Park, is the kind of place that’s perfect for small and large groups in the mood for a tummy-warming and interactive feast. The Astronomer and I headed here late one Friday night with our friends Diep and Alice.
We began by selecting a broth. Hot Pot, Hot Pot offers three bases including a mildly flavored “House Original,” a sweat-inducing “House Spicy,” and a medicinally tinged “Rejuvenation Broth.”
We chose the “Half & Half” option that allowed for two different varieties—on the left is the “House Spicy” dialed up to a seven and on the right is the “House Original.”
Once the broths were settled on, we were provided with a form listing all manner of proteins, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles to jazz up our hot pots. We may have gone overboard with over a dozen tick marks, but it was all in the name of research (and gluttony). We chose a mix of hearty ingredients that were suited for the spicy broth, as well as more delicate ones that benefited from the milder broth.
To provide further hot potting pizzazz were four sauces for dipping and drizzling. The chili oil and sesame paste were our favorites.
The dozen plus hot pot mix-ins were rolled over to our table on a metal cart. The show was about to begin…
From the “Meats” section of the order form we selected the sliced lamb ($4.50), which melded beautifully with both broths…
…the pork intestines ($3.95), which tenderized as the meal progressed….
…the pork blood ($3.95), which resembled squares of glossy chocolate…
…and hard-boiled quail eggs ($3), which were always a treat to fish up from the soup.
From the “Seafood” section of the order form we selected the wonderfully plump and briny fresh oysters ($4.95)…
…fresh clams ($3.95) that perfumed our broths with their seaside essence…
…and a steak of squid ($3.95) cut into rings and ready to be dunked. Its tender texture took us all by surprise since we were expecting something more rubbery.
From the “Vegetables and Tofu” section of the order form we selected the pea tips ($2.25), which wilted in the broth but still maintained their snappiness, and the curiously named Buddha’s hand melon ($2.25), also known as chayote.
From the “Mushrooms” section of the order form, we selected skinny strands of enoki ($2.50)…
…meaty slices of eringi ($3.25)…
and woodsy maitake ($3.25).
And finally, from the “Noodle” section of the order form we selected the Mongolian noodles ($2.75), which looked plain but had a lot of bite…
…and wide, pappardelle-like hand-made noodles ($2.75) that made me smile from ear to ear. These cooked up a bit softer than the Mongolian variety, but had a comforting and doughy way about them.
We had intended to snack on “Mongolian Lamb Meat Pies” ($4.50) to start, but they arrived later on in the meal. The impressively crisp and juicy hand pies provided a fine diversion from hot potting.
With the weather finally chillin’ out in Los Angeles, it’s high time we commence hot pot season. Hot Pot, Hot Pot is a terrific place to satisfy all your steamy, soupy needs; the ingredients are top-notch, while the broths are most satisfactory. While service in these here parts is rarely of note, the team at Hot Pot, Hot Pot went above and beyond to make sure that we had a really great experience.
Hot Pot, Hot Pot
120 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
One year ago: Vietnamese Steak and Eggs at Quán Lệ Hồng
Two years ago: Susan Feniger’s Street – Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Three years ago: Big Gay Ice Cream Truck – New York City
Four years ago: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant – Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Five years ago: Vegetation Profile: Sugar Apple
Six years ago: Hot and Hot Fish Club – Birmingham