November 2nd, 2010

Little Q Hot Pot, Arlington

Hot pot is the same concept as shabu shabu – boiling hot broth in the middle of the table and platters of raw foods for you to cook and eat. There are a couple of locations: Quincy, Chinatown and now, a new Arlington space, where my friend Adam and I dined last night.


There is a choice of 8 different broths: Mala, seafood, veggie, herbal, beef, black bone chicken, summer cooler, and miso. We got herbal and black bone chicken broths and sirloin, lamb, fish balls, udon noodles and a seafood platter of fish, scallops, mussels, squid and shrimp.


I liked the herbal broth more than the chicken. There was a spice in the herbal broth that Adam didn’t like – he reports that his clothing still smells of the spice. I think it was annatto seed and I was fine with it. I thought the broths were rich and flavorful, although not that distinctly different from each other.


I liked the beef, but found the lamb a little gamey. It was hard to know how long to cook the different seafood items for, so I think most of it ended up overdone. I liked the peanut sauce that came with the meal. I think I enjoyed the udon noodles the most.


Ultimately, hot pot suffers from the same flaw as shabu shabu; you are paying to cook your own food, which I can easily to at home. So, think of it as a novel experience – probably fun in a large group – but not as a culinary destination.