While hot-pot restaurants — eateries where diners cook their own meat in large pots of simmering broth (akin to fondue) before dipping it in an array of housemade sauces — have been steadily popping up in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, it’s Honolulu that’s experiencing the biggest boom. Despite the warm weather, several hot-pot establishments have opened here over the last several years and continually draw crowds, with patrons often lining up outside the doors.
Though they were thought to have spread through northern China during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618–907), hot pots may have been originally inspired by Mongol warriors who boiled water in their helmets to cook food. Today, the East Asian dish varies in both name and ingredients from region to region, with Beijing, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok all serving their own unique versions.
Some of Honolulu’s hottest hot-pot spots include the Taiwanese-style Sweet Home Cafe (2334 S. King St., 808-947-3707), Honolulu’s original Shabu Shabu eatery (Japan’s version of the centuries-old dish; the name means “swish swish”), Shabu Shabu House (1221 Kapiolani Blvd., 808-597-1655) and the recently opened Shabu Shabu King (2700 S. King St., 808-951-7878).
DIY Hot Pot
Quebec native (and my cousin) Johanne Paquet introduced me to Chinese fondue — the traditional version of hot pot — with the following recipe, which is perfect for small parties and get-togethers:
5 cups of water
1 onion soup sachet
1 white onion, diced
1 tbsp. of chili sauce
1 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
A couple of drops of Tabasco sauce
Bring water to a boil in a metal fondue pot and add all ingredients. Let simmer for a couple of hours.
Yogurt and green onion
Yogurt and Dijon mustard
Yogurt and curry powder
Yogurt and garlic
Since thinly sliced meat isn’t always readily available, try dicing filet mignon. You can also use chicken, pork, shrimp or vegetables.
Serve broth over burner, with meats and sauces on the side. Serve with rice and salad.