To celebrate the first day of fall, we hotpotted. It was 80 degrees outside, 120 degrees in my mouth. Hotpotting at such temperatures doesn’t just bring a party to your mouth, it brings pain. Plus a wee bit of funk to your pits.

This entry is really for the readership of Stuff White People Like. The Asian invasion set should all be familiar with the concept of swishing meat in boiling fluids. After all, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai people all hot pot to some degree. Call it shabu shabu and get a smack with a ladle. The Chinese have been hot potting for 1000 years, show a little gastro respect.

Everyone can boil stuff. It ain’t rocket science, but there’s method to the madness. Aim for maximum flavor (umami, whatevs), good texture and extended return from the soup bases. Always, if offered, order the ying-yang combo broths. You want both the herbal stock and the ma-la spicy stock. Between the 2 broths, Monland advises over 30 spices are used. There’s ginger, garlic, etc. all the way to jujube, dan sheng, go ji berries, ad nausea. In fact, if you see it on Chinese Herbs for Chinese Soups, it’s probably in one side of the pot.

With such a heavily spiced pot, try not to muck up the soup base too much, ie, skip items such as tomato, taro, and go straight for absorbent greens: chrysanthemum greens, napa, fried tofu (instead of soft tofu, which crumbles too easily). The flavor of this house is fatty lamb; the decorator had an obscene sense of humor. See cute sheep on the wall, eat sliced lamb, eat minced lamb, eat dumplings stuffed with lamb.

The deep fried lamb meat balls are apparently faves, there are at least 3 shots of them in the depository. To finish off, an order of vermicelli always goes into both the spicy and the herbal side. What people often miss from this $30 for 2 hotpotting experience tho, is the truly Asian principle of “To Go”. The soup bases cost $3.75 per person, regardless what you order as add-in’s. Obviously the soups are good for more than 1 session of usage. If you peek at the service counter, you’ll see stacks of quart sized styrofoam containers and lids. Which leads to the final step of Monland Hotpot: the round at home. While we don’t have ying-yang desktop propane burners, it’s easy to have 2 propane burners going at the same time! Or you can simply chose to switch off. Don’t consider this cheap, consider it recession dining. It’s really all about the soup base anywho.

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