We provide the food, you cook it

A few weeks ago Katy and I were going through some old knicknacks I brought back from Singapore. We ran across this toy dish set I actually gave her years ago but hadn’t been opened in a while.

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I was telling her what all the dishes were and explained that the big thing on top of the table is a steamboat cooker. I told her all about going out for steamboat and how  you got these big platters of food and you cook it right there at the table. I said we should do that here and invite your friend Emma.

All the places around here are called hot pot so I got to wondering about the different name. Apparently it’s steam boat in Singapore and Malaysia but hot pot everywhere else.  It’s also individual and not family style.

What we had in Singapore was like this. The big pot was in the middle of the table and everyone added what they wanted. At the end the broth turned into soup from all the flavors and you had soup as your last course.

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So it’s a little different here. For starters not only is it individual but the tables are equipped with gas to cook the broth.

So we decided on a place called J’s Mini Hot Pot. They have two locations and tons of good reviews.

Since it’s individual everyone picks the type of broth and meat that they want (vegetarian is also an option). They had a selection of broths and I asked what the herbal one was. Our nice, young waiter said it’s hard to explain but it’s for people who want something healthy and “it tastes like medicine but not bad medicine”. I went with the chicken. For meats Katy and Emma both got beef (this is the most popular), Heath got lamb and I got seafood. It comes with glass noodles but you can pick a different variety for a change fee. I went for the glass and everyone else did ramen. And the brought out the food. PIles of it.

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Katy and Emma. You can see the vegetable platters Lots of cabbage, taro root, tofu, two kinds of mushrooms, an egg and for whatever ever reason a piece of a weenie. And lots of other assorted veggies. No bean sprouts, though, which is kind of surprising now that I think of it.

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All that food. in the front left to right are Emma’s ramen noodles and sliced beef and my seafood platter.

I didn’t get a picture of it but they had a sauce bar, too, with probably about 24 different sauces. I got sesame, a little chili and their house sauce that was supposed to be really good. I know Emma got a lot of garlic. They had something called volcano sauce. So you put that in your broth to add whatever flavor you want. The broth boils or get soaked into the food over time so they came by with big kettles to refill your supply. I asked the waiter if they have 50-gallon drums of broth back in the kitchen. He laughed. Our main waiter, the young guy from above, was very attentive. When he found we were relative newbies he stopped by several times to check on us and ask if we had any questions.

We got a small order of tiny dumplings and they came out frozen so we dunked those in the broth, too.

So once you get all your food and sauces you put everything in the hot broth to cook and eat it while it’s still hot. It was really fun. They do a complimentary dessert of shaved ice and red beans (ice kacang in Singapore/Malaysia) but we were too full. It’s bad when you’re too full to eat ice!

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Photo stolen from a Yelp review.