Monday, December 8, 2014

Hot Spot in Fairfax, VA

There is nothing better than dunking slices of raw meat into vats of hot, boiling soup. Hot, numbingly spicy, boiling soup.

Actually correction, there is one thing that makes the whole situation better: dunking unlimited slices of raw meat into vats of hot, boiling soup.

Hot Spot is an AYCE mini hotpot restaurant in Fairfax that's giving traditional hotpot a necessary polish for the DMV area. To be honest, to the non-culturally acclimated, traditional hotpot can appear extremely barbaric and intimidating, but give it a lil face lift, rubbing, cute instructions, and shrink it down (because mini things automatically get +1000 points in the cuteness department) and even the most unassuming hipster would be willing to give it a go.

For a set price, each diner gets to chose one soup base to cook their ingredients in. Hot Spot offers about five or six different bases varying in spice level and culture. Most of the soups are meat or fish based, but there is a vegetarian option. I got the spicy soup base, which is Hot Spot's take on Chongqing-style hotpot: oily and numbingly spicy from the addition of Sichuan peppercorns. To be quite honest, I wasn't all too impressed by the base. It was flavorful, but tasted a bit too generic - like it was made from one of the hotpot flavor packets that my family buys when we're too lazy to make our own base.

After choosing the soup, you can start ordering the ingredients to cook in it. Our server gave us a sheet with all the offers and instructed us to indicate how many servings of each we wanted. The kitchen will serve up to three servings of an ingredient at once, but if you want more, you can order a second round.

Hot Spot's selection of ingredients is extensive but very safe. There are the typical things like thinly sliced lamb and beef, marinated pork, chicken, tripe, various fish and shellfish, fish balls, dumplings, vegetables, noodles, but I was missing the more "exotic" ingredients like blood cakes and lotus root. Don't judge; Asians eat weird things.

Inside tip: don't miss out on the sauce bar. In the back, Hot Spot offers an array sauces and toppings to mix and match for a customized sauce to dunk the cooked food in. I typically like to mix together peanut sauce+garlic+cilantro+chili sauce+sesame oil+Chinese BBQ sauce+fish sauce. Yeah, it's a handful, but trust me. It's really good!

My friends and I ended up getting two rounds before throwing in the towel and waddling out. Even though it's a good distance away, I was extremely impressed by my visit to Hot Spot. While I don't think I would go back again on my own, it's an extremely fun and social experience and I'm glad that it's being introduced to the DVM area.

Hot Spot
Hot Spot on Urbanspoon
3232 Old Pickett Rd
 Fairfax, VA 22030