Sitting at restaurants can be difficult. The wait time before your meal arrives, the anticipation of flavors, and the temptation to tap on your iPhone are all too relatable. But, what if you could avoid all of those things while still enjoying a fantastic meal? A Chinese style of cuisine called hot pot has exactly these elements in mind. Offering new layers to your dining experience, hot pot lets hungry guests cook their own meals in an array of deliciously spiced soups and sauces. Luckily, there are seven hot pot restaurants in New Jersey for locals to try the dishes themselves.
Its style offers more than just food. From large groups to dining pairs, hot pot brings friends and family together in a different and enriching way. Dive into blends of East Asian spices and ingredients or create new, unique sauces for the entire table to enjoy. No matter your method, let your scrolling thumbs rest and get cooking at one of these seven New Jersey hot pot restaurants.
What is Hot Pot?
Hot pot is a unique dining experience. It developed in the households of East Asia through the idea of joining family and friends together to cook long, delicious meals. However, its origin dates back thousands of years to the Mongolian Empire. Stories claim it was first a simple broth used to cook mutton and horse, eaten in the helmets of Mongolian soldiers––a perfect to-go meal.
Today, the experience has expanded across East Asia and throughout the United States. A simmering pot of soup is placed at the center of the table. Then, freshly sliced raw meats, fish, vegetables and noodles of your choosing are scattered around the pot. Guests cook the food how they want it. Despite its simplicity, hot pot is one of the most exciting ways to dine.
How Does It Work?
Guests are seated at large granite tables upon arrival, with hot plates at the center. First, you’ll choose your soup base. The most common selection is the original broth, which is chicken flavored. This broth usually comes with vegetables like corn or beans simmering in a white, creamy base. Another popular choice is the spicy broth, which usually includes chili peppers in a vibrant red soup. It’s hard to go wrong with either of these options. But, if you’re looking for more umami, many restaurants offer fish or shrimp broths as well as Tom Yum (a more sour flavor).
Once your pot is bubbling on the hot plates, you’ll choose from a wide variety of ingredients on the menu to cook. Most places are all-you-can-eat, so order whatever piques your appetite. Popular choices include premium beef, sliced pork belly, shumai, shrimp, mushrooms and shanghai noodles. There are pages of options, from vegetables to proteins. Just remember––put the vegetables in first, because the sliced meats take only seconds to cook.
Next, a signature of the experience is to summon your inner “MasterChef” and create your own sauces. Most hot pot restaurants include a free build-your-own-sauce bar towards the back of the venue. So, grab a bowl and start your mixture. These bars include soy sauce, chili oil, fresh garlic, cilantro, green onions, and even peanut, hoisin, and chili sauce, letting you elevate the uniqueness of your dish. Once you’ve completed your various side pieces, you can start cooking.
Hot pot is fun and all about experimenting and collaboration. So, don’t be intimidated by the pot. Add your ingredients and use the strainer or long chopsticks to retrieve your cooked food. You can also adjust the heat of your broth, letting it boil for vegetables and noodles or simmer for the meats. Regardless of your cooking skills and experience, you’re certain to learn all the tricks during your first trial.
Where to Get Hot Pot in New Jersey
The Garden State is a melting pot of cuisines, making it the perfect place for hot pot. There’s many places to choose from, offering all-you-can-eat or even combining your experience with Korean barbecue. For all your simmering needs, below are seven hot pot restaurants in New Jersey.
V-Yan Hot Pot – Parsippany, NJ
When dining, options are extremely important. At V-Yan Hot Pot in Parsippany, there’s plenty to choose from. This modern, all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant lets guests cook in multiple soup broths. The menu includes everything from lamb to lobster rolls, with corresponding images like a magazine catalog. Order a tall glass of Thai tea to help wash away the salt from the build-your-own-sauce bar for the best mix of East Asian flavors.
During lunch and dinner hours, the atmosphere at this venue is bustling. They have large tables for big groups and even private rooms towards the back, separated by some partitions. I recommend their Shanghai noodles, which come rolled in a fresh dough ball to drop into the pot. With their expansive array of options and flavors, you can’t go wrong with V-Yan Hot Pot.
Beijing Hot Pot – Rutherford, NJ
If you’re looking for a more casual, simple hot pot experience, Beijing Hot Pot is the place to go. Instead of ordering off a catalog menu, guests are given a paper ordering sheet that lists options for their meal. Check off any vegetables, combos, or drinks you’d like, along with your broth, for a streamlined ordering method. This restaurant has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, making it a well-rounded venue for all kinds of food lovers.
Their beef combo is one of the most popular options. Served with mushrooms, broccoli, tofu, lettuce, and udon, this and other combos offer a small taste of every food type. The scallion pancakes and bubble milk tea are also raved about, as is Beijing Hot Pot’s specialty curry broth. Once you’ve finished eating, order their shaved ice to cool things down.
KPOT AYCE Rolling Hot Pot – Fort Lee, NJ
Enjoy all-you-can-eat hot pot, or pair it with Korean Barbecue at KPOT AYCE Rolling Hot Pot, located in Fort Lee. This restaurant chain offers a modern, upscale dining experience with a wide selection of ingredients. Choose from seven soup bases, pages of vegetables, and rolls of sliced meats to simmer in your pot. Their menu even includes dumplings and Kobe beef, adding to its contemporary atmosphere.
The “Rolling Hot Pot” refers to this restaurant’s conveyor belt, which circulates different ingredients for guests to snag. When you walk inside, the commotion of food rolling through the restaurant and pots sizzling with broth creates an enthusiastic energy. Grab your favorite ingredients and mix your own sauces for a bustling hot pot experience.
iCooking Hot Pot & BBQ – East Hanover, NJ
With black, glistening tabletops and sunken burners for pots, iCooking Hot Pot & BBQ is a modern-meets-rustic hot pot restaurant. With private rooms for large groups, a bar for drinks, and an extensive sauce station, the venue offers a full dining experience. Even more unique, this restaurant offers an outdoor patio for those needing a break from the steam.
Happy Lamb Hot Pot – Edison, NJ
Dark and light go hand-in-hand. At Happy Lamb Hot Pot in Edison, so does their spicy and original hot pot broths. Known for their Yin Yang soup, which divides their two broth flavors in one pot, this venue gives New Jersey diners an authentic Mongolian experience.
Spacious and modern, the high ceilings and dangling lights offer a fresh breath from the steam of your pot. Order fresh udon noodles, Angus beef, or lamb shoulder for the best experience. And, for vegetarians, Happy Lamb offers vegetable broths and plenty of meatless options from menu to sauce bar. So, don’t hesitate to fill your table and get cooking!
Morals Village Hot Pot – Somerset, NJ
While hot pot is typically associated with casual comfort food, its upscale version offers a whole new perspective. At Morals Village Hot Pot, contemporary dining adds another layer of uniqueness to the Chinese cuisine.
Here, hot pot is served in a deep dish, simmering inside the center of your table. A divider separates two different broths of your choosing, with a third in the middle. Order beautifully-rolled meatballs sitting on slices of cucumber or gently stacked layers of sliced pork belly for a full array of hot pot flavors. Morals Village’s sliced fruit, sauce bar, and herbal teas continue to elevate guests’ dining, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Yin Traditional Hot Pot – Edison, NJ
Sometimes, a rustic flair really adds to slates of sliced meats and vegetables. Yin Traditional Hot Pot’s aesthetic does exactly that. With long wooden tables and dark flooring, it mixes casual with earthy for a fun, energetic dining experience.
This restaurant offers a wide selection of broths, even letting guests choose their preferred level of spice. Their menu also includes specialty items like tripe, cilantro meatballs and, for the most adventurous, duck tongue. Offering outdoor dining and large group rooms, this restaurant is large, with an expansive and authentic menu.
Featured image by Reimond de Zuñiga
Visited any of these hot pot restaurants in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments!