Why Come Here? Cheap eats, sample Chinese Fondue, good for a group
Hou Yi is a Chinese hot pot hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown. And by hole-in-the-wall, I do mean neon signs, folding tables and decor consisting of little but a TV showing Chinese game shows. But as is usually the case in Chinatown, you’re not paying for ambiance. You’re paying very little for really good food.
But what is a hot pot you ask? Think of it as Chinese fondue, except with delicious soup broth replacing inedible oil. It’s best to know how it works before you go, because your waitress isn’t likely to be able to explain it to you in English So here it goes: for $23, you get all you can eat for two hours with unlimited non-alcoholic beverages. You’ll start off with a checklist to choose what you want to cook in your pot including about 30 options ranging from meat and offal to fish to mushrooms, tofu and vegetables and noodles. Don’t by shy, order all you want. We initially only ordered four items, much to the displeasure of out waitress. Yes, they are actually offended if you don’t get at least 8 things. So check away.
Next you need to select your broth, and I recommend the “combo” which allows you to try two different ones. If you can handle spice, get one mild or medium spicy. But be forewarned: medium spicy is Chinese for “very, very spicy”, so don’t try to be a hero here. When your broth and food comes, you cook it fondue-style in the hot pot and choose from an array of sauces to slather on it. My favorite was to mix the coffee-like one with soy sauce and chili sauce. The fish sauce is also a little sweet and great on the shrimp or fish balls.
Overall, it’s a fun experience and great for groups since it’s fixed price and you can order a ton of food, throw it in a pot and share.