What’s there to review in a restaurant when you do most of the cooking? When you cook meats and vegetables in a complex and refined broth, only to then mercilessly dip the item in your own bizarre concoction of sauces and herbs.
To my surprise, quite a bit actually.
It’s been an good time for hotpot lovers. The arrival of global chain Little Sheep in Flushing made it an instant hotspot during the winter nights. Then came word via Facebook that a certain Mister Hotpot in Brooklyn is all the rage. Everyone’s checking-in there…. (more on this later)
So when you’re not cooking, and you control the dipping sauce, we focus on the broth. Mister Hotpot delivers a hearty pork bone based soup, available in a spicy split-pot setup. This broth relies on slowly cooking the essence of the bone, rather than dosing with dry herbs. In fact the broth resembles ramen soup base, except it’s not the final product but rather just the starting point. The menu also clearly states that the broth contains no MSG. I’m quite sensitive to that stuff, so after a few sips I believe them.
So what do we add into the hotpot? While Mister Hotpot could have easily resorted to blending in with its Brooklyn Chinatown neighbors, it instead channels its Brooklyn-essence, setting new levels of creativity, presentation, and freshness.
In addition to the usual meats and vegetables, which are pretty much as fresh as they come, you’re also presented with house specialties and off the menu specials. The squid paste is especially all the rage. The freshly blended paste, made to order, is presented in a bamboo casing. Using a wooden stick, you slide bits of paste into the boiling broth, causing it to rapidly solidify. Not only is this a fun exercise for the table, the taste and texture is fantastic.
Other hotpot places can give you previously frozen slabs of tilapia. Here we get fresh cut slices of fish, glistening on a plate. The meat gently curls up when it contacts the boiling liquid, yet another sign of superior freshness.
I was also quite impressed by the drunken chicken, which are lightly marinated in Chinese wine, but preserves the flavor of alcohol even after a soak in the hotpot. A creative concept executed brilliantly.
On the way out, check-in on Facebook for a free melon flavored ice cream bar. Why more restaurants don’t do this is beyond me. Such a brilliant way of getting the word out.
Somehow Brooklyn has managed to improve hotpot.
What does this rating mean?
5306 8th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220