Hot Pot Hot Spot
State College seems to have a limitless array of Asian cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, the list goes on. So it may not cause a big stir whenever a new restaurant serving Pan-Asian inspired food opens it doors. But Happy Valley’s newest Chinese restaurant “100 Degree Hot Pot,” which opened two weeks ago, should not remain unnoticed.
Located on 428 Westerly Parkway, this new establishment is serving up thousands of years of Chinese tradition. What is hot pot cooking? TO WIKIPEDIA!
“The Chinese hot pot has a history of more than 1,000 years.Hot pot seems to have originated in Mongolia where the main ingredient was meat, usually beef, mutton or horse. Frozen meat is sliced thinly to prepare it for hot pot cooking. Slicing frozen meat this way causes it to roll up during cooking, and it is often presented as such. The common meats used include lamb, beef, chicken, duck, mutton, and others. The cooking pot is often sunk into the table and fueled by propane. Meat or vegetables are loaded individually into the hot cooking broth by chopsticks, and cooking time can take from 1 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of food. Other hot pot dishes include leafy vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, and noodles. It can be eaten bland to very spicy, depending on how much spice has been put in the stew.”
Whenever you enter 100 Degree Hot Pot you have two options: a shared pot, or an individual pot. Whether you are sharing or not is important because it determines where you sit. There are larger tables with one burner in the middle for shared pots, while the individual pots are eaten at four person tables, each place setting including a burner and temperature control (see picture below).
As you can probably tell, the choices are endless. Each person first must pick a hot pot. We ordered the spicy hot pot, the kimchi hot pot, and the chicken broth hot pot. Next, you have to decide on what you actually want to cook. The fun part about hot pot is that it’s impossible not to share. Everyone can get something different and try bits of everyone elses food. Pork cooked in a spicy pot has a much different flavor than pork cooked in a kimchi pot. Everyone can mix and match, and it turns eating into a communal adventure.
For our own personal pots we ordered a variety of items: pork, chicken, veggie and pork dumplings, king mushrooms, potatoes, fish balls, pad Thai noodles, and one of us (Steve, ever the adventurer) ordered himself a nice big plate of pigs blood.
After the daunting task of deciding what to eat, it’s time to make your sauce. 100 Degree Hot Pot boasts a large sauce bar where you can make your own personal dipping sauce creation. You can make as many as you want, and with ingredients like chive sauce, peanut sauce, and sesame oil there’s really no way to go wrong.
Our sauces created, and our chopstick technique mastered, it was time for the main event.
Plates upon plates began to litter our table, our hot pots roaring on setting 5, the temperature our sever assured us was the best one for cooking. My favorites included the pork egg dumplings and the slices of potato (although their cooking time was a bit long for my short amount of patience). It was challenging trying to work out everything’s cooking time, making sure our food wasn’t over cooked but cooked enough to avoid giving ourselves food poisoning. Using the little wire mesh wands we were given, the four of us had a great time frantically trying to catch our food as it bubbled around in our pots. Overall the food was delicious, and we all did a pretty good job with our sauce creations. Steve even ate 3/4 of his pig blood.
If you’re looking for a meal that’s delicious and fun, make your way down to 100 Degree Hot Pot ASAP.