That was my first thought when my housemate suggested we go to hot pot for dinner. Seriously, was she mad? Then I discovered what hot pot actually was. For those who aren't in the know, hot pot is a style of eating, where people sit at a table with a cook top, are given a 'hot pot' of broth that remains cooking the entire meal on the cook top (obviously), and whilst the broth is simmering, ingredients are added to cook at the table.
I asked my housemate, quite incredulously, 'You want me to go to a restaurant and pay to cook my own food?'
After little persuasion, (I'll try anything once), my housemate took me to the Dainty Sichuan. Once seated at the cosy tables, we looked over the menu, and once I realised I had no clue what I was doing, I just copied my housemate and ordered the mushroom broth as the base for our hot pot. We then chose a variety of dishes to put in the broth.
You get a sheet of paper with a list of the menu, and you can indicate the quantity of the dish you are ordering or if there are things you'd like to add, which is pretty good for the waiters since they don't have to keep writing everything down for you. We ordered beef strips, tofu skins, mushrooms, and potatoes. I wanted to try the pigs blood strips, but my housemate was against it.
Whilst waiting for those to arrive, we went over to a booth, upon which we found a variety of sauces and condiments. I was told to mix a bunch of them together and take it back to the table. At this point, I was pretty confused. Why would I need a dipping sauce, and how was I going to know if it was any good? I mashed together a sauce which included sesame sauce, shallots, garlic jam, celery and some chilli flakes. It tasted pretty good, and since I was so hungry, it was almost gone by the time the food arrived.
When the broth came out, it was in a saucepan which was placed on the cook top that was on the table. Once it started to simmer, I watched my housemate put some of the beef and tofu in the pot, wait for them to cook, and then take them out of the pot and mix them in the sauce we had made. I copied her and I have to say, it was delicious. More importantly, it was fun. I never thought that paying someone to let me cook would be fun, but it was. You can mix as many different sauces as you want, order as many different ingredients as you want, and they refill your broth as well if needed. It was a lot of good fun,and I would recommend it to anyone.
Though if you have never been, I suggest you go with someone that has gone and knows the ropes, so that you don't look like a complete idiot when you try to order something.