Photo by Jin Shabu
Hot pot or the cooking method consisting of putting raw meat, seafood and vegetables into a simmering pot of flavorful soup stock has been around for quite awhile, starting with the Zhou dynasty in China. It's said that the nobility at the time all had a personal pot made of bronze. Nowadays, it's a popular dinner activity with a group of friends, a date or by yourself (why share?!). The Valley has a few standout hot pot restaurants, ranging in style. There is shabu-shabu where you swish sliced meats and vegetables around in your broth, almost like a fondue. At others, the hot pot comes to you all prepared, and you don't have to do very much work. Either way, it's delicious and something to look into for when the temperatures finally start to cool down in the coming months.
Many people swear Yu Tian Xia Hot Pot is as close to Chinese hot pot as you can get in this state. The menu is made up into sections where you can select what kinds of veggies, meatballs, seafood, dumplings, meats and more that you want. There are combos already made up too if you're not feeling creative. Next is the selection of a pot base, and there is the option to go half and half with two types of broths if you like (they are separated out in your pot) with choices like Spicy and Beef Bone or Tomato and Beef Bone. The pork belly is particularly beloved here too if you like meat, or stack the broth with potatoes, lotus root and mushrooms. There is a spice and sauce station available where you can mix up your own dipping sauce for an additional fee, and you can continue to add on items as you like throughout service. Just be sure to keep track of all you're getting as the prices can creep up on you. During lunch, the restaurant has an all-you-can-eat special, and takeout is available for regular ordering. Yu Tian Xia Hot Pot is located at 1948 W Broadway Road, Mesa; 480.508.6059
Photo by Jin Shabu
If you're looking for an all-you-can-eat experience, Jin Shabu is it, plus it's earning rave reviews right now for safety during the pandemic. There's a temperature check at the entrance, and at the buffet table that houses vegetables, seafood, noodles and more, guests are required to use gloves. Lunch is $16.99 a person during the week, and dinner is $25.99 a person during the week and all day on weekends. An added fun is the Hinoki option, a wooden box that steams items like beef and pork belly. If you're ordering broth, try the Sukiyaki with sweet soy sauce flavor, the original Katsuobushi with fish flakes or even the Vegan Shoyu broth with soy sauce. You can then order premium or deluxe meat like the Australian Lamb. Jin Shabu is located at 2055 N Dobson Road, Suite C5, Chandler; 602.396.2988; www.www.jinshabu.net
Tasty Pot is perfect for the diner that doesn't want to do all the work. It's relatively simple at this authentic Taiwanese individual hotpot chain that has locations all over the country. This is the only one in Arizona, tucked away in Mekong Plaza in Mesa. Here's how it goes — choose your choice of 12 pots, a spice level and a side of rice or vermicelli noodles or substitute instant noodles for an additional price. The broth is usually refilled as you go. There's an option of small or large pot, and customer favorites include the Beef Hot Pot, Lamb Hot Pot and Stinky Tofu Hot Soup. Don't forget to add in fishballs or a quail egg. The Healthy Veggie Hot Soup is also a good vegetarian option. Drinks are the complimentary sweetened black or green tea plus a plethora of milk teas with add-ons. Pick-up and delivery is also available. Tasty Pot is located at 66 S. Dobson Road, Suite 148, Mesa; 480-809-6780; www.tastypotusa.com
Zu Izakaya Asian Kitchen is a fusion restaurant that serves a little bit of everything but is known for its many hot pot options. It's another individual hot pot kind of place, but the portions are large, so feel free to share with your dinner mate. Get the Korean-style Jjamppong Pot with shrimp, scallops, black mussels, pork and veggies, the Pork Gyoza Pot with pork dumplings or the Vegetable Tofu Pot. Each pot comes with enoki mushrooms, scallion and rice, and you can additionally add noodles. During the pandemic, tables are placed 6 feet away, employees wear masks and offer hand sanitizer, and there is an outdoor patio. Takeout is available as well if preferred. Zu Izakaya Asian Kitchen is located at 2210 N Scottsdale Road, Tempe; 480.625.4372; www.zuizakaya.com