HOT-POT: A Medley of Flavors
Whenever we think about outing or socializing the first concern is “Where to eat or What to it” (Well for me? It is). But visiting the same restaurants for the same dish every time isn’t as much fun as exploring different places and tasting different food
The winter always demands for extra food cravings but the spread of Covid-19 restricted us from eating in restaurants for 2 years. The weather has been pulling our taste strings towards warm foods and the first thing that comes to me when I think about something “Hot” is obviously Hot-Pot. For this very issue, I wanted to explore the dish “Hot-Pot” itself but from different parts of the world. I wanted to try as much as Asian countries as possible but due to Covid obviously, we couldn’t do that. So, we finally decided to go for 3 cuisines, Korean, Tibetan and Sichuan Hot-Pot. All three of them had their own specialty and use of spices. The serving was different too in all three and I had a great experience.
The Korean HOT-POT
For the Korean Hot-Pot we went to Everest Arirang Korean restaurant. Located in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur, this restaurant had quite a good space and quite environment. We could choose to stay in the outer space in fresh air, watching around and enjoying the dish. There were spaces with multiple tables to stay and eat and there were spaces for only one group where we can stay privately and eat peacefully. We took on the space designed for one group which was near the balcony. I must appreciate the ambience of the place and the decent silent we got to experience there.
We were served the dish quickly and first look really excited me. I have always loved Korean dish but this was a new experience. This dish was called Budae Jigae also known as Korean Army Stew. Interesting thing about this dish is that it is a war food. Basically, when people were out for the war, they couldn’t find good dishes so what they came up with was an idea of mixing whatever they could find in a pot and have it with the spices available. So, the dish is a typical food made with soup of ham, sausage, baked beans, rice cakes, ramen, cheese, tofu, mushrooms, kimchi and gochujang. It was quite a interesting mix and quite filling too. The dish came with a huge pot with every ingredient mixed in it already. All we had to do was let it cook and it would be ready for a go. We let the Ramen cook well and blend with the spices in the pot. Having rice cake or sausage or ramen individually was obviously awesome but mixing them all together really boosted the taste. The spices and soup that they were kept in gave all of them similar taste of spice but the urge to try each dish together was there.
The Hot-Pot was in a great portion and we had to struggle a lot to finish all of it. The taste was quite catchy and the side dishes added more of a shine to it. The rice cakes and sausages were well cooked and when a portion of every ingredient mixed was take in a bowl, it came off well. The soup was cooked well and it warmed me really well in the cold winter. The weather that day was a little chilly and went perfectly with the dish we tried out. I appreciated each bite and I must say it wasn’t too spicy or too bland. The food didn’t get cold because it was continuously warmed till the end. We ate the main dish obviously but the side dishes were equally good. They gave a plain taste after a good spicy meal.
The experience all together was really good and the food is filling for even a huge group of people. It warms the insides and fills you with a sense of satisfaction of having a good food.
The Tibetan Hot-Pot
Markham Bistro was the best place we could find for the Tibetan Hot-Pot. This was a multi-cuisine bistro and café serving a range of hearty and healthy continental cuisines while specializing in modern Tibetan cuisine. Located in Chetrapatti, Kathmandu, this place has a great atmosphere and can easily refresh your mind. The place gave a cultural vibe and we could obviously very well see that they had adopted the Tibetan culture really well. Well-enough to let people have a certain idea on it.
The dish also known as Gyakok was a Tibetan Hot-Pot with seasonal vegetables, sliced chicken, buff and meatballs in bone broth soup served with ting momo and rice. The Tibetan food especially comes from its climatic situation which is really dry and not a lot of spices are found in the area so, the food itself is very simple. Gyakok is also a simple food having the base of meat broth for the nutrition benefit and adding other ingredients to cook the food. The dish in ancient era used to be really simple but with time it has changed and more spices are added in it, its not as plain as it used to be with the sprinkle of modernity. Gyakok was a bit different from other two Hot-Pots because of its plain side. The dish was warm throughout the process as the pot has a hole in between for the coals, this was quite interesting and the contrast of vegetables, meat and noodle made it more amazing.
This Hot-Pot came with steamed bun and the sauce that came with the hotpot was so satisfying. We took a portion of each and kept it in a bowl, we then added the broth in it which was warm enough. Then came the sauce that tagged along. It blended so well with the dish and added spice to the whole dish. We took the steamed bun and dipped it in the soup. The taste, I must say, was immaculate. The food didn’t have heavy oil or spice which made it perfect to have in huge portion too. The noodle tasted so good with a bit of sour and tangy taste. Every food was well cooked, the meat balls were one of the best and the chicken tasted equally good. The steamed buns with the sauce came up with good flavor and I took each bite with amazing experience of good food. This was the only Hot-Pot we could completely finish because it was perfectly portioned. For the rice that came along, I added two spoons of it to the mixed sauce and dipped it for a while. Trust me, I would suggest everyone to do so.
The Food looked so good when it arrived and the colour contrast made it look so beautiful. Absolutely appealed by the look of it, I enjoyed every time I had the food and I would go back to it again and again.
The Sichuan Hot-Pot
For the Chinese Hot-Pot, we decided to go Chinese Kitchen: Cuisine Court Nepal located at Padma Marg, Bhatbhateni, Kathmandu. The place had a huge space and there was a green environment around it. There was a sitting for both outer and inner environment. The place was quiet and spacious and the service was good too. The Chinese Hot-Pot being so huge couldn’t be kept in a normal table so we had to lay it on a huge round table. The place had good service and good food too.
This is a Chinese hotpot especially designed for huge number of people eating together in groups and in cold winter. This dish is meant to increase body temperature and keep us warm. However, it was a bit different than other two Hot-Pot. In this dish, we were provided with a soup and a lot of raw dishes around it. We had to add whatever we wanted accordingly to the soup and enjoy the taste. The soup however was so heavy with oil, Sichuan pepper and other spices so we were suggested not to have the soup alone. The soup was meant to add the taste to the meat and noodles cooked in it. There were Chinese cabbage and lettuce on a place to wrap the food and get the best taste out of it. There were ingredients on the side to add if necessary and the spices were heavier than the other two. There wer also different sauces to dip in the food and have it accordingly. Tofu, Black fungus, Ham, Pork, Salami, Chinese noodle and many other ingredients were provided to have the great taste of the food.
The food was amazing and the heavy portion of the food filled me heavily. It was prepared well and I can’t imagine the time and effort the team put in to cut such perfect slices of each food. Every food gave a different experience and along with it I got to taste the amazing sauce of the Chinese Hot-Pot.
It was a new but memorable experience with different Hot-Pot and now I actually understood how the cultures made difference in the taste of food and the process of making it. The food of all three places were amazing and I would obviously recommend all three dishes as well as restaurants to everyone planning on getting warm in this cold winter.