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Jul 29, 2013 07:57 PM

Hou Yi – Extremely Reasonable Hot Pot In Chinatown

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Hou Yi is a hot pot specialist restaurant located in the northeastern Fujian section of Chinatown that borders the Lower East Side.

Hot pot is a pot of broth which you cook raw ingredients in and then dip in various sauces. Surprisingly I’ve had a hard time finding a decent hot pot place in the city and usually go to Flushing to Baidu to get my fix, which you can see here ( It’s surprising because it must be one of the most universally popular dishes amongst all types of Chinese people.

The restaurant is a small place that quite ugly even for Chinatown with bright orange walls, dim yellow lighting and ugly wooden tables. The service was fine and relatively efficient. Both times I’ve been there has been a wait, so I’d either go early or late. The price is $23 for all you can eat hot pot including drinks, so it’s very well priced.

I’ll break down the hot pot by different aspects:

We got regular and spicy broth. Both were pretty standard, but good. The light broth is a standard mild flavored broth and the spicy one is a Sichuan style ma la broth. The spicy one is very spicy and spicier than the broth I’ve had at most Sichuan restaurants in NY, so if you can’t handle spicy food I’d avoid it. 7.75/10

We got the beef and lamb. While they were frozen they seemed reasonably fresh to me. I liked the beef better than the lamb. My GF thought the beef wasn’t good quality, but I thought it was fine. The lamb was alright, but was a bit gamey (my GF did not like it at all, but she doesn’t like lamb in general). 7.5/10 for the beef, 7.25/10 for the lamb

Non-Meat Sides:
They have a variety of standard non-meat sides of vegetables, dumplings, fish balls etc. We got fried tofu skin, fried tofu cubes, corn, tofu, enoki mushrooms, daikon, cabbage, Hong Kong style fish balls, Fujian style fish balls and some other stuff which I’m forgetting. I thought all of it was good except I thought the Hong Kong style fish balls were too processed tasting and the fried tofu cubes were mediocre as well. 7.75/10

They don’t have a lot of options for sauces, I used the sesame and sha cha sauce. The sha cha sauce was not provided on the tables and I had to ask them for it. Sha cha sauce is a dried shrimp sauce, which you can read more about here ( Both sauces were pretty standard tasting, but reasonably decent. The major shortcoming of this place for me was the lack of variety of sauces. I normally like to make my own with soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, sesame oil and cilantro. I felt like it was missing an element without that. 7.5/10

Overall, while it’s not amazing hot pot, it’s pretty decent and extremely reasonably priced. If you’re looking for your hot pot fix in the city without going to Flushing this is a decent place.

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  1. Where have you had spicier broth in NY? Hou Yi's da la (spiciest) broth was painfully spicy, but rather flavorful after getting over the coughing.

    I've also wondered as to why the hot pot restaurant trend hasn't really caught on in NY; do you think that most Chinese are just having it at home?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mookleknuck

      i have not had spicier broth in NY as I was saying its spicier than the sichuan restaurants which normally would be the most spicy

      i don't know, its a mystery to me as well. you maybe right that people can make it at home fairly easily, but given Hou Yi's popularity I'd suspect if someone opened a better one like baidu in Flushing they'd do pretty well

    2. When I was last at little pepper, it seemed everyone was ordering hot pot. I was tempted but didn't understand the basics. How does it work, you cook the food in the broth, pull the food out with broth into a bowl, add sauce and eat...maybe over rice? or with the noodles in the broth?

      thanks for the help (and the review).

      1 Reply
      1. re: vinouspleasure

        ok so basically:
        1) you get raw ingredients (meats, vegetables etc)
        2) you cook them yourself in the broth
        3) take out
        4) dip them in the desired sauce
        5) eat (with or without rice, thats up to you).

        the noodles you can cook and eat plain or with sauce, again up to you

        also they will usually give you this strainer thing in a bowl full of water which you use to clean the broth which starts to get this film from cooking the meat

      2. l always wonder about the order and timing in which the ingredients go in: do you put a little bit of everything in at once, or try to figure out what cooks slowest, putting that in first, and spacing out the other items in order of how quickly they cook?

        2 Replies
        1. re: howdini

          i usually cook stuff one by one except certain things that may take a bit longer (cabbage, daikon etc). I don't like the stuff to get overcooked so I cook them one by one although ive seen some people just dump a bunch of stuff in

        2. Looks like another Hou Yi coming at 92 Hester.