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Hot Pot at Szechuan Gourmet

Last night, DH and I decided to get the hot pot at Szechuan Gourmet. We've eaten here many times before (we live in the area) but never ordered the hot pot. While it may seem counterintuitive to order this hot pot when it was 70+ degrees, we went ahead with our decision. We haven't had that dish at that restaurant though we've had it at other places. I called them in advance as it is an off-menu item. They said they would have it that night.

So I go to the restaurant and tell the waiter that we'll be having the hot pot. He brings out the hot pot menu which is written all in Chinese. DH and I look at each other knowing that we were doomed. We asked the waiter to translate. He told us it was $25/person with a limit of two hours. Within those two hours you can order unlimited amounts of food. If you wanted to order certain things such as intestines, there's an extra charge. He was very kind to take out the time to translate the menu for us -- there were many items and he spent a great deal of time going over all the selections for us.

We ordered the half and half -- half spicy/half clear. The clear broth was quite tasty filled with some dried shrimp. The spicy broth was spicy, but not terribly so. We've definitely had spicier. This is what we had: beef, pork, lamb, prawns, tripe, crab, enoki mushrooms, baby bok choy, spinach, soft tofu. As we ordered so many things for only two people, we thought they were going to give us small portions of each. We were shocked when he brought out this humongous plate of the items. There were probably like 10 prawns and 1/2 lb of each meat. Way too much food! We tried and tried to finish the plate but we absolutely couldn't. After about an hour, DH had this look on his face and said, "I'm done." When the waiter was checking with us as to how things are going, we said that this was too much food for us. His response was, "You have two hours."

When I paid the check at the end, I asked him if anybody ever finishes all the food. He replied, "Never." Then why do they give us so much food, especially if you can order more if you're within the two-hour limit? I was really hoping they weren't going to do any recycling of the ingredients.

But it was a great meal. Large eaters, rejoice! This is the place for you. They don't skimp, especially with the more expensive products such as prawns. There's only one level of spiciness, but it's really not too bad. Unfortunately with the copious amounts of MSG I ingested, I was drinking water all night. But it was worth it. Not something I would want to do all the time, but nice once in a while.

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  1. Any idea if you can do this for lunch?

    3 Replies
    1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

      You can call them to make sure, but I highly doubt it. Have you seen that place during lunch hours? It's like a zoo.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        Just called today. SG won't do it for one person but you can have it for lunch. Oh well, back to Keen's for a takeout mutton chop.

      2. re: SomeRandomIdiot

        If you wanted to try a smaller version, during lunch, you could try Swish on Broadway and 116. But this is a bit of a reduced version, but you could have it by yourself, and at lunch and try it out.

        Huoguo (hotpot) is meant to be a long group meal. Looong. Many people. Lotsa beer or baijiu. This is the predecessor to the neater, not so spicy but equally wonderful fondue chinoise.

      3. Thanks for the report. I've always wanted to try this. And now I will!

        1. If you'd be so kind - where is this place? I did a search, and there are others with this address. Which one are you referring to? Thanks!

          3 Replies
          1. re: AlbertaHound

            I'm referring to this one:


            There is another one in Flushing which is the same as the one in Manhattan.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              does the manhattan location still do hotpot?

              1. re: FattyDumplin

                Probably easiest just to call them to find out. I don't think I've seen them put out the sign advertising hotpot since the Times review.

          2. sounds tasty but the all-you-can-eat per-person part seems like kind of a bad deal...if i was going for hotpot w/ with say a total of 3 people, we'd likely order maybe 6 or so items (i.e. shrimp, lamb, tofu, and a few veggies) and we'd prob all be very full and it'd cost a lot less than 75 bucks before tax/tip/drinks...i forget which of the Lexington/3rdAve hotpot places i've been to, but the cost was much less than that and i left full and happy...

            1. Price is now $28.75 but gratuity is included. We feasted on half spicy, half regular, with lamb, beef, blue crab, shrimp, fish balls, tofu, broccoli, Napa cabbage, spinach, enoki mushrooms. Very popular to get hot pot tonight, as we saw three other tables getting it. Forgot to ask for lotus root, alas. Menu continues to be all in Chinese, but you can just ask them for a little bit of everything.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                Oh well, it's been ages for me: thank you for the reminder, and I have so many questions... sorry.
                How did you like it overall? What kind of a non-spicy broth did you order? I know it's all written down in Chinese but their captain speaks Cantonese and 3-4 other dialects quite well (if that's any help).
                Did you order bitter melon (苦瓜) at all? (It always took some effort, heh) How's their honeycomb tripe (牛肚) nowadays? DId they recommend kidneys? I always thought their fish balls were just OK: any improvement? Was it a Western broccoli or 芥蘭 ?

                1. re: diprey11

                  The non spicy broth was 'herbal' I believe. There were tomatoes, dried shrimps, diced vegetables, and other items floating around for flavoring.

                  We didn't get any bitter melon, tripe, or kidneys, but I didn't ask. The fish balls were OK, not great but not terrible either. It was western broccoli not Chinese broccoli.

              2. Price is now $31.95pp for all you can eat hot pot. Our meal this week, I asked for no shrimp and no fish balls, so instead they brought us the following: beef, lamb, blue crabs (yum), beef stomach (tripe), cabbage, wood ear mushroom, spinach,, mung bean sprouts, daikon, tofu, lotus root, enoki mushroom, some sort of baloney/spam. Half spicy, half regular broth. Got refills on the meat, too. Made a huge mess, and we ate for 1.5 hours. They had to change our plates three times.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    I'm there. Cannot wait. Is that 31.95 inclusive of gratuity as noted above?

                    1. re: r32nissan

                      No, they add on tax and tip to the 31.95 figure. Ends up being just over $80 for two.