Dinner last night

May 14, 2021 • 8:45 am

Last night my colleague Manyuan, who originally hails from Szechuan, invited me to a new Chinese restaurant in Chicago: a “hot pot” restaurant, featuring a dish whose home happens to be the town where Manyuan was born.  A “hot pot” is a boiling cauldron of various broths, into which you dip things like raw meat, shrimp, tofu, vegetables, and mushrooms, and then dip the cooked substances into a variety of sauces. According to Manyuan, and also my own experience in Szechuan, this was the real thing.

Here’s the menu. We ordered the tripartite cauldron “triple flavor” with three different broths (upper left). The hot one was spicy!

Manyuan likes to eat, which makes him an ideal dinner companion, and so after he ordered (I let him do all the ordering, eschewing only the ordering of organs and offal), we had a ton of food. First shrimp chips and tea, along with a plate of pork belly. The big lump in the lower “spicy” section of the cauldron, which was soon boiling away, is a piece of beef fat that melted.

The whole schmear, with mushrooms, tofu, tree ear (fungus), long fugus, bean sprouts, and veggies to the rear. The golden bull was said to contain wagyu beef.

It was absolutely terrific, and we ate for over two hours. Hot pot is good because you can have conversation while your food cooks, and can cook it at your leisure. It’s a great dining & social experience.

The restaurant is Quao Lin Hotpot, a bit west of Chicago’s Chinatown, and you see the uniformly positive Yelp reviews here. I recommend it highly if you are keen on the hotpot experience.

16 thoughts on “Dinner last night

  1. I know Japan has versions of this type of place also. You sometimes select what you want and then it is cooked and brought to the table. In other places there is a cooking center in the middle of the table and you bring the food there and cook it yourself. It all makes for a long eating experience and you also drink a lot of beer.

  2. The name of the restaurant is: Qiao Lin Hotpot
    Address: 2105 S Jefferson St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60616
    near Chinatown

  3. I personally like organs and offal a lot, and I’d recommend them.

    In fact I’d just had hot pot with friends a month or so ago, albeit at a different place (in a different city, in fact). It came with transparent noodles whose name I still don’t know that we used to soak up the spice. It was great.

    It’s definitely not vermicelli by the way, they’re way thicker. Here’s a picture: https://imgs.weekendhk.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/feaphoto_9546626125d2ed4ce40155.jpg

    If anyone could tell me what its name is I’d be much obliged.

  4. First time I went to a Chinese restaurant specializing in hot pot was in Tampa. It was the same night my bestie and I and our wives went to see the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple, so musta been circa the mid-Eighties.

    It was damn good — the hot pot and the movie, too.

  5. Wow. Going out to eat in a restaurant. What a concept! I seem to remember something like that in the past….

  6. Pre-pandemic, my wife and I enjoyed a Mongolian hot pot place. It’s a very social way to eat a meal, and helps to slow my eating down, meaning I get full on less food. Win-win!

  7. I love hot pot, but always eat too much. That Louis CK quote is accurate: “The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.”

  8. Glad you’re getting out of the house! Hot pot is excellent – but I rarely eat it unless I’m with really professional eaters (I eat like a bird). Tasty stuff!

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