Monday, August 2, 2010

Uncle Liu's Hot Pot - Fairfax, VA

Finally! I have been dreaming of authentic Sichuan hot pot constantly since I first tried the spicy cauldron of yummy in China a few years ago. For those not familiar with hot pot, imagine fondue, but replace cheese or chocolate with a spicy cauldron filled with spicy hot peppers, and numbing Sichuan flower peppers. I have been searching for this dish fervently around my area, and I ended up finding it by accident while working in Fairfax. Not how I expected to find it, but I will gladly take it!

There are variety of options of broth choices. Classic spicy, classic non spicy, fish head, and a mushroom. We opted for the half and half ying-yang dish of classic spicy and classic non spicy. I asked for the spicy half to be mind numbing hot, but my server seemed to doubt my abilities to handle the full blast. Sadly in my experience I feel as though I am often given the gringo treatment when ordering spicy items in ethnic restaurants. In fact, my only real gripe with the entire experience is that the broth could have actually had more in the way of peppers and spice. This is not as hot as you will receive in Chongquing or Chendu, but its probably about as good as you will find stateside.

We ordered a huge array of sides to cook in our broth. Thin sliced beef, pork belly, Chinese cabbage, noodles, vegetable dumplings, pork dumplings, duck feet (my favorite), tofu, and broccoli just to name a portion of our order.

While it wasn't quite as spicy as I may have hoped, it was still probably hot enough for the majority of people out there. Just the smell when walking in the front door of the restaurant took me right back to China. Hot Pot is such a great social dish. You can eat it with a large group of people at your table and share a little bit of everything. I truly hope that more places start trusting that there is a market for this type of food out there. Uncle Liu's, I salute you!

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