A New Year’s tradition in my family is to eat hot pot, so every year around this time, I begin to crave hot pot. As a result, we’ve had hot pot quite a few times the last few weeks.
I’m not too crazy about the hot pot selection in San Diego. We like Little Sheep but it can get expensive. There are a lot of Taiwanese individual-sized hot pot shops in LA, but in San Diego there is only E & Drink, which I don’t really find satisfying because the pots are not brimming full with ingredients like they should be and the restaurant uses cheap ingredients.
When Mr. K and I went to have an early Christmas dinner with his family, both of us were craving hot pot. After a quick yelp search, we were pleasantly surprised to find a new Taiwanese hot pot place not too far from his parents’ place, so off we went.
The English name is a little funny and I don’t know why, but it bothers me. The sign is filled with lots of hearts because the “I” sounds like the word for “love” in Chinese and the Chinese translation of the restaurant name literally says “Love Hot Pot.” I guess it’s a trend for naming Taiwanese restaurants this way, just like “Yes! Pingo.”
Once inside the small restaurant, I was really happy to see the hot pots displayed on the tv screen, all brimming to the top with food, just like how they should be. The ingredient list also contained some of my favorite hot pot items like quail eggs, kamboko fish cakes, enoki mushrooms.
On the table were the typical sauces usually used for dipping: satay, hot sauce, soy sauce, and a garlic paste.
I also liked the set-up of the wooden box stands, which are more stable and safe than the design at E & Drink.
Miso Hot Pot
Seafood Hot Pot
Spicy Beef Hot Pot
Taiwanese Hot Pot
Stinky Tofu Hot Pot
I couldn’t resist- I had to get this one. It had a good amount of pork intestines and other ingredients as listed in the menu. The stinky tofu was buried at the very bottom and was, unfortunately, very mild. It was missing the fermented flavor. I normally don’t enjoy eating pork blood cubes because it has a metallic taste. However, the pork blood here was mixed with rice, creating sticky rice squares that I actually found quite enjoyable.
The biggest problem with this though was that the broth was very bland. And it seemed the same for all the pots. Other than the miso, none of the broths had any flavor and we ended up adding copious amounts of sauce into our hot pot. Also if you requested a spicy level to your broth, rather than blending it thoroughly into the soup, they just added spoonfuls of hot sauce on top, unmixed. This led to some ingredients being drenched in hot sauce.
The quantity was plentiful though. All of us had difficulty finishing an entire pot. It’s too bad that the flavor of the broth was so bland, otherwise I would want to come back more often.
Overall, we loved the quantity and the ingredients, but found the soup base to be way too bland. It pretty much just tasted like they put ingredients into boiled water.
I Hot Pots
9799-A Baseline Rd
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730