Thumbs Up Chinese Restaurant - Edison, NJ
This place is great! And by great, I mean it's literally the only Hot Pot restaurant in NJ I'm aware of. But honestly, there's nothing wrong with this joint...good hot pot at reasonable prices, plus it's BYOB, and I really dig the condiment bar. It's a solid addition to the Edison chow scene.
I don't believe so, or at least not that I'm aware of in the area. I know you can order Sichuan hot pot at some local restaurants but it's not hot pot in the sense that you cook it yourself at your table, they are always made in the kitchen and brought out. Even though the Yelp reviews are not great, it seems that most of the reviewers had issues with cleanliness and service, two things that unfortunately many "authentic" places seem not to consider high on the priority list. I didn't see anything when I went that would cause me actual alarm, but it was packed with Asian clientele when I went which would indicate to me that the food is probably more than passable if you can get over the other issues.
It's a Chinese hot pot restaurant in the old location that used to be Woo Jeon, a Korean restaurant. Basically some of the tables have hot pots installed in them, you order meats and vegetables and cook them at your table yourself (sort of like fondue). Chinese hot pot are stocks/broths that are boiling in a pot so you cook your meat and vegetables and noodles in the broth, you can pick from regular or spicy. They have some normal meats and vegetables like chicken, shrimp, etc, and then they have more interesting meats and various animal parts for the brave of heart. You can also get things like beef noodle soup.
They apparently also have some regular Chinese food dishes available as well for the more conservative, I thought I saw a sign for chicken and broccoli and General Tso's Chicken, although I didn't get to order any. I did ask for a menu toward the end of the meal just to see what they had, but for whatever reason (probably because I'm Chinese and they assumed I could read Chinese) they brought me one in Chinese and I didn't bother trying to explain that I meant I wanted the English one.
All in all my very Asian parents and relatives really enjoyed the hot pot so if you're looking for a pretty authentic and reasonably priced adventure (you pay for small plates of the raw meats/veggies sort of like tapas style, not more than a few dollars each), I would give it a try, I didn't eat much but I plan on trying it again.
I went for lunch today and by trial and error sort of figured out the procedure. If anyone wants to try hot pot but isn't sure how, you can just do this:
Get the hot pot menu, which is different than the regular lunch menu.
Pick a soup pot - they have clear, white, mushroom, spicy and some combo options. I went with clear and it seemed to be standard chicken broth. These run about $10.
Pick some of the ingredient plates - they have meat, vegetables and misc. They range from $2-$5 or so. I went with cuttlefish balls, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms and dried tofu.
They bring the pot with broth out and put it over the table burner. You get about a gallon or so of broth. The plates are medium sized and nicely filled with ingredients.
Hit the fixins bar and get seasonings for the broth. They have a lot of things here - garlic, vinegar, sesame paste, preserved beans, all kinds of stuff. Load up a bowl, bring it back and dump into the broth.
Put the ingredients into the broth once you get it seasoned. You can put in the longer-cooking things like cabbage first, but I just dumped in everything at once and it was fine.
Give it a little while to cook and then start fishing around with chopsticks.
The broth is mostly for cooking, but I asked for a spoon and had a couple of bowls of it, which by this point was really flavorful. Driving back to work I wished I'd had more, because it was really good.
The manager said not to try it with the spicy broth, as it was too intense and not meant to drink.
There was enough food for 2-3 people, and the price was $10 for broth, $14 for ingredients, so $8-12 per person. Definitely worth the price.
Will be going back with the family now that I know how it works.
Edit: the cuttlefish balls were meatballs made of cuttlefish, not cephalopod testicles, just to clarify.