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Best Local Hot Pot Restaurants

By Ashley Fong

Hot pot at The Boiling Point. Photo by author

As I walked down E 4th Ave in Downtown San Mateo, I noticed a sign that read “Boiling Point Coming Soon.”  I couldn’t contain my excitement – one of my favorite hot pot places was finally going to be nearby!  Boiling Point is an individual style hot pot restaurant but there are also restaurants that offer a group style (check out the list below).  Hot pot allows you to be your own chef.  When you receive a giant pot of hot broth, wait for it to boil while waiting for your selection of raw meats and vegetables to arrive.  Then throw any ingredients you want into the pot and watch it cook.  d.tech junior, Anthony Wang, stated: “I like hot pot because I think it’s kinda fun to cook my own food and [make it] cooked the way I want it.”

Hot Pot first appeared in the Bay Area in the 1980s, but in the past seven years has gained in popularity – Restaurant owners have been getting inspiration from China and Taiwan where hot pot originated, and have seen the benefits to opening a hot pot restaurant.  Some of those include cutting down on labor and food waste since most ingredients are delivered raw.  

Here are a couple of places that have become favorites among food bloggers and ordinary diners, alike.

Menu from The Boiling Point. Photo by author

Boiling Point

Location:  111 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Individual Hot Pot

This restaurant is a favorite of d.tech student, Ian Savelson, and food blogger, Uni Bition who are regular customers at this chain.  Savelson says, “I go to Boiling Point because it’s a ‘Taiwanese’ style hot pot, and I really like eating Taiwanese food.  It takes me back to my culture and some of my favorite Taiwanese ingredients are incorporated into the pot such as pig intestine and stinky tofu.”  In addition, Uni Bition loves the individual style of the meal as he said, “I’m really into places with personal hot pots such as Boiling Point.”  Boiling point is also food enthusiast and city editor of the Daily Meal, Kimia Kalbasi’s favorite, because of the quality of the food that the restaurant uses.  She says: “You get high-quality meats for a great value.  I’m all about the spicier the better, so I really enjoy the spicy base they offer.”

Tasty Pot

Location: 815 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

Individual Hot Pot

This restaurant has many locations in the Bay Area, including in San Francisco, Cupertino, San Jose, and Berkeley.  It was also recommended by food blogger, Allie Tong (Instagram: allie.eats) and Uni Bition, who has 51.1 k followers on his Instagram @bayarea.foodies.  He believes that individual hot pots are becoming more popular than the traditional group style and really enjoys the concept of eating from a personal hot pot. “I think personal hot pots have been the trend for a few years due to much better presentation than traditional hot pot, and that means much more exposure on social media,” he said.  “ So right now I think personal hot pot restaurants are much more trendier than the traditional hot pots.”

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Location: 215 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Group Hot Pot

This hot pot restaurant has been around for a while and doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere.  It’s located in downtown San Mateo, and is a favorite of Sophia Li, a junior at d.tech who has been going there ever since she was little.  When asked what her favorite dish was there, she replied: “fish cakes.”

Boiling Szechuan Hot Pot

Location: 103 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

Group Hot Pot

This new restaurant was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.  On the Chronicle, food critic, Jonathan Kauffman who has written for the magazine since 2014, described Boiling Szechuan Hotpot as “upscale with wood-paneled dining rooms, induction burners built into the tables, and luxury ingredients like Wagyu beef and sea scallops.”

Nabe

Location: 1325 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

Group Hot Pot

Nabe was featured on the SF Gate and Eater SF as it joined San Francisco and was also recommended by food bloggers HeeJin (Instagram: @hungryhungryheejin) and Mindy from Oishii Moments (@oishiimoments).  HeeJin goes to Nabe “for a japanese style” and Mindy recommends finishing up your hot pot meal with a porridge!  “The porridge with an egg, green onion, and seafood flakes is the perfect way to end your meal.”

IPOT

1420 Irving St. San Francisco, CA 94122

Individual Hot Pot & All you can eat

Compared to other hot pot restaurants, this place provides a unique experience.  You are able to choose a hybrid pot which allows you to BBQ and cook your food in broth.  This restaurant is also all you can eat, so make sure to save room beforehand.  

These are just some of the many places that have appeared.  Wanting to stay in during a cold day or wanting to skip the lines? Hot pot can also be eaten at home!  Here’s a step by step guide found on the Woks of Life: (http://thewoksoflife.com/2015/10/hot-pot/).
With more restaurants popping up all over the Bay, the hot pot trend is only just starting/  Choosing between individual to group pots, all you can eat, cooking your own food, or even creating the experience at home, hot pot creates a fun time with friends and families.

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