Photos by JAIMIE HSU & WILLIAM WONG
by WILLIAM WONG
Providing Asian countries with generations of flavor and nourishment, hot pots are a variety of stews that will keep people warm in the chilly winter.
Most commonly found in Japan, China and Taiwan, hot pot traditionally consists of a large communal pot filled with broth, most typically flavored by chili peppers, tomatoes, seafood or meat over a flame. Other ingredients can be added and cooked into the pot, generally including mushrooms, cabbage, eggs and raw meats (usually beef or lamb.) As the food cooks, people can choose foods from the pot to their liking.
In addition to the communal style, a more popular version of the dish found in Taiwan and southern China, allows each individual a smaller, personal pot, as opposed to a large shared one.
Historically, hot pot was originally created in Mongolia and traveled to China during the Mongolian rule. Although it seems more like a winter dish, hot pot was eaten during the summer, to induce sweating so people could naturally cool off.
Eating hot pot with family or friends creates a unique experience where each member can have exactly what he wants. Because each portion cooks individually and requires little attention, it opens several opportunities to communicate and create bonds with others at the meal.
Uni-Boil, located in Atlantic Time Square, offers an Asian-Fusion individual hot pot experience. Customers can select from a variety of meats and toppings, along with several types of broth, ranging from a simple tomato to a heavily spiced Malaysian satay. The restaurant becomes even more appealing because of how affordable the meal becomes when a status or picture is shared to social media.
In contrast to the individual style, Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ, located on the corner of South Garfield Ave. and West Newmark Avenue in Monterey Park, combines the communal, family elements of hot pot with a Chinese twist on Korean barbeque. Customers can order several meats and vegetables, but as opposed to already being in pots, they arrive in single plates. The food can be either cooked in the broth given or with small grills next to the pot, adding variety to the meal. Prices are also relatively inexpensive, ranging from $2 to $3 per plate.
With affordable prices in a delicious warming presentation, hot pot dining with friends and family is great way to spend the winter holidays.