’Tis the season to beat the heat, and there’s no better way than to fight fire with fire, by eating hot food on a hot day! Whether the heat comes from the spice, temperature, or both, consuming food that makes you sweat has been scientifically proven to cool the body down more than a bowl of ice cream (although we won’t say no to that, either). In fact, hot pot meals are often concluded with ice cream and fresh sliced fruits.
Hot pot, or huˇo guō (火锅) in Mandarin, is a communal dining method that involves cooking an assortment of thinly sliced meats and vegetables in a flavorful broth. For those who want to speed things up or prefer their meals readymade, restaurants also typically offer dry pot or pan-fried pot, which are fully cooked hot pot ingredients without the accompanying broth (although broth can be ordered separately as an add-on).
Legend has it that hot pot was inspired by Mongolian soldiers who would cook meat and vegetables they found along the way in a water-based broth using their helmets as cooking vessels. Today, variations of hot pot are a staple in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, and Thailand.
Shabu-shabu, a style of Japanese hot pot (nabemono), translates to “swish-swish,” referencing the fact that thin slices of meat need only be lightly swished in boiling broth to cook. Shabu Works is best known for its all-you-can-eat hot pot format, but they’ve been offering an at-home option: For $76, you can get two choices of flavor-bomb broths with two containers of broth base, two choices of meat, two vegetable platters, assorted fish cakes and fish balls, and fresh ramen for two.
9841 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Scripps Ranch
For Japanese-style hot pot in Convoy, check out Shabu Shabu House, which specializes in shabu shabu with New York strip steak and prime rib-eye.
4646 Convoy Street, 858-268-8648
In Korea, jeongol (hot pot) is a medley of ingredients boiled together with a little broth to create maximum flavor. The haemul-jeongol at Friend’s House has a mildly spicy seafood broth with baby octopus, shrimp, squid, small white crab, green mussels, tofu, and udon noodles topped with ssukgat (chrysanthemum greens).
4647 Convoy Street
Chon Ju Jip also has haemul-jeongol with octopus and crab legs along with radish, minari (water celery), tofu, and vegetables. Each order is served with kimchi, pickled cucumbers, spicy green beans, fish cake, and tofu.
4373 Convoy Street
This popular Chinese franchise specializes in Chongqing-style hot pot, known for a broth made with spicy chilies and numbing Szechuan peppercorns. If you’re looking for something with all the hot pot flavor and none of the effort, pick their pan-fried hot pots, which come with assorted meats and vegetables of your choice. Rice and/or noodles must be ordered separately, and they have shared and individual hot pots available.
4690 Convoy Street
World-renowned for its broth recipes, Mongolian Hot Pot celebrates classic Chinese flavors and regional hot pots. From the mouth-numbing Szechuan hot pot to the full-flavored vegetarian broth, they pride themselves on not needing to serve dipping sauces because the broths are packed with all the flavor needed. Their secret? A concoction of healing herbs that goes into every broth. Choose the yin-yang option if you’d like a mix of spicy and non-spicy broth.
4718 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard