Last weekend I went out with some of the dads for a night in the city eating at a “good” Hot Pot place. Super interesting experience overall.
First is that if you do not know anything about hot pot, it’s basically a boiling soup broth with various flavors (usually beef stock, I think, but ours was a “special one” with crab and chicken). Then you dip your various ingredients in it to cook. All these things also add to the flavor, so in theory, by the end you have some really good flavors happening. What is weird about it is everyone is dropping raw ingredients all the time, so the broth is likely always carrying some funk in it 😉
When I say you drop your ingredients into the pot, I mean things like raw chicken, beef, fish, eel, intestines, fish skin, fried & rolled tofu, and so on. And when I say various flavors, I also mean to say that they also have levels of intensity in the spice. We had “medium” and it was so spicy it literally sucked the air from my lungs when I took my first bite.
They also had fish and other things that they served cut up and on ice, like sushi. For example they had Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck), which is about as unappetizing visually as it gets. And it tastes pretty fishy, kind of like an extra salt-watery oyster.
We had a nice meal and a nice evening, and I don’t think we over-drank or did anything too crazy with the alcohol. But, at about 5 in the morning, I woke up with cold sweats, and shortly after I was in the bathroom. And let me just say that the spicy food was not pleasant as it forced it’s way from my body for the next day.
It could have been a lot of things – the crab that I ate before anyone else (maybe it was not cooked), the tons of un-sanitary broth that was soaked into the tofu skins I ate, or maybe it was the spices. The super hot, angry, szechuan spices. I have found out that as I age, I can’t handle the hot spices as much as I used to, and now that I have the little guy, I rarely take the chance on it.
Two of the guys are from Hong Kong, and they also find themselves getting sick a lot when they eat hot pot. One guy told me when I was in the throws of the agony the day following that 4 out of 5 times he is in the same situation. So it’s good to hear it’s not only me. I’m glad I experienced the hot pot nonetheless, and I would recommend any of those brave foodie travelers out there to go to a hot pot place when you are in Hong Kong.