The Unvegan

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‘Hot Pot’

Hot Pot at Hot Pot Hot Pot

Rolls of meat.

The world of hot pot is a divided place. I am not simply referring to the fact that most hot pot spots support the idea of dividing the pot into two broths, but also to the fact that some offer all-you-can-eat and some go a la carte. Hot Pot Hot Pot, a ridiculously named restaurant in Monterey Park, is on the a la carte side of the pot, but I did not let this get in the way of checking the place out.

Eating Hot Pot the Mongolian Way

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Let’s get a nice boil going in here.

Compared to the Chengdu-style hot pot, Mongolian hot pot looks like it came from another planet. Or at least a much older planet. Differing from most other hot pots, this one still uses hot coals rather than an electric stove. It also looks nothing like a pot and looks more some obscure ancient brass ware you might find at an antique store. The broth, which is essentially water flavored by ginger and scallions, fills a moat that surrounds the central silo. This silo contains the coals that boil the hot pot.

Chengdu Hot Pot with a Shanghai Twist

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A hot pot divided.

After spending some time in China, you will find that the Chinese people are very prideful, and not simply prideful about their country, but about their regions as well. It seems like if you go anywhere in China, you will hear that whatever region you’re in has the best tea, best dumplings, best noodles and really anything else you can think of (best dog?!). The same goes for hot pot. So if you may think hot pot is simply a bot of boiling water to cook food in, you are wrong.