Do you eat it with anything else?

Hot pot is easy to make at home (and cheap, too). If you use a ready-made base, you don’t need to follow a Chinese recipe for hot pot. Pre-made soup bases are also a great way to get them from famous Chinese hotpot restaurants. This will save you time and make your hot pot taste even better.

Little Sheep Mongolian hot pot makes a base that is both spicy and mild. For a more mild soup base I recommend the Hai Di Lao Tomato flavor. (We had it recently at one of their Shanghai restaurants and found it to be outstanding. These can be purchased on Amazon, or in a major Asian supermarket like 99 Ranch. If available, each diner can also prepare their own little bowl of sauce. It is best to dip the hotpot ingredients in the sauce just before you eat them.

Other hot pots do not have condiment bars. Sesame oil is usually combined with soy sauce, or sesame paste diluted. Add chili oil, scallions or sesame paste. You may also use 富途 cilantro, green onion, a little soy sauce, and sesame paste. When it comes to adding condiments, there are no restrictions.

Some photos on this page are taken at a chain restaurant called Faigo, which we visited in Beijing. Faigo is famous for its mini-hot pots, which allow each customer to choose their favorite broth. This is not common, although it’s cool. Little Sheep Mongolian hot pot is our favorite restaurant for hotpot in San Diego. The chain is probably the biggest Chinese restaurant in the United States, and well-known throughout China.

The West coast was their main focus when they expanded into other cities in America. It’s clean and the food is excellent, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that hot pot restaurants are not always so well-maintained in America.

The word “Mongolian”, in this case, is meaningless to an American who has a passing interest, or even a one-time experience in hot pot. They offer a wide variety of food items à la carte that goes beyond mutton. The menu offers a choice of spicy or non-spicy soup, as well as a middle bowl that allows both.

The weekday special is our personal choice for the newbie. The only thing you have to do is choose the type of broth and meat you would like (among several choices, you can select beef or pork). The rest of the meal (including pre-sliced Asian noodles and vegetables) are brought out on individual plates for each guest. Beer, wine and other Asian spirit are available. It is a family-friendly place.

Once you have learned the basic concepts, choose your own adventure. If you don’t know? You’re in the right spot. Our hot pot primer is here. We’ll follow Sze’s lead and share the broths you’ll use as the basis of your hot pot meal. Then we’ll show you how to prepare the right fixings for the broth, what gear to buy to ensure a smooth experience, our rules, and the best way to combine all of these ingredients into a delicious, dynamic feast.

Hot pot can be a very cost-effective activity for a large group. You can get free refillable broths at some places and pay only for what you add or the spice upgrade. That’s a pretty good deal: it comes out to $18 for each person if you want to eat a lot. The places that do charge for soup charge between $10 and $15 for the base broth, which you would all be sharing anyway.

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