Last night, DH and I decided to get the hot pot at Szechuan Gourmet. We've eaten here many times before (we live in the area) but never ordered the hot pot. While it may seem counterintuitive to order this hot pot when it was 70+ degrees, we went ahead with our decision. We haven't had that dish at that restaurant though we've had it at other places. I called them in advance as it is an off-menu item. They said they would have it that night.
So I go to the restaurant and tell the waiter that we'll be having the hot pot. He brings out the hot pot menu which is written all in Chinese. DH and I look at each other knowing that we were doomed. We asked the waiter to translate. He told us it was $25/person with a limit of two hours. Within those two hours you can order unlimited amounts of food. If you wanted to order certain things such as intestines, there's an extra charge. He was very kind to take out the time to translate the menu for us -- there were many items and he spent a great deal of time going over all the selections for us.
We ordered the half and half -- half spicy/half clear. The clear broth was quite tasty filled with some dried shrimp. The spicy broth was spicy, but not terribly so. We've definitely had spicier. This is what we had: beef, pork, lamb, prawns, tripe, crab, enoki mushrooms, baby bok choy, spinach, soft tofu. As we ordered so many things for only two people, we thought they were going to give us small portions of each. We were shocked when he brought out this humongous plate of the items. There were probably like 10 prawns and 1/2 lb of each meat. Way too much food! We tried and tried to finish the plate but we absolutely couldn't. After about an hour, DH had this look on his face and said, "I'm done." When the waiter was checking with us as to how things are going, we said that this was too much food for us. His response was, "You have two hours."
When I paid the check at the end, I asked him if anybody ever finishes all the food. He replied, "Never." Then why do they give us so much food, especially if you can order more if you're within the two-hour limit? I was really hoping they weren't going to do any recycling of the ingredients.
But it was a great meal. Large eaters, rejoice! This is the place for you. They don't skimp, especially with the more expensive products such as prawns. There's only one level of spiciness, but it's really not too bad. Unfortunately with the copious amounts of MSG I ingested, I was drinking water all night. But it was worth it. Not something I would want to do all the time, but nice once in a while.
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