Wow. Just went to lunch for the first time at Hot Pot City down on 1st Ave. For a big $7.50 for lunch ($13.50 for dinner) you pick from a list of about 8 different kinds of broth. Either you sit at the bar, for an individual pot of broth on a burner built into the bar; or you sit at a regular table and they bring you a tabletop set-up that several can share...they even have inserts so that you can have 2 different broths in one tabletop hot pot. They bring you a ladle and strainer and bowl, along with a fork and chopsticks...so you are properly armed.
So, you get your broth and then go to the hot pot bar. There are various things to make your own dipping sauces, I chose a base of their soy/citrus and added chopped garlic, scallion, and about a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar - yum. They also have vinegar, hot stuff, plain soy, etc. so you can make whatever you want.
Then you grab a plate and go down the line of this salad bar like set up. First are choices of raw meat: thinly shaved beef, pork, beef tripe, plain chicken thigh meat (no bones, no skin), marinated chicken thigh meat, beef balls, surimi. There were 3 types of tofu cubes: frozen, fried, soft. There were noodles: udon, cellophane, green soba-like thin ones. There were veggies galore: spinach, bok choy, acorn squash, taro, napa cabbage, lettuce, tomato, something starting with a y and ending with an i that was like water chestnut/jicama?, pickled mustard greens, and lots of other stuff. Everything looked fresh and beautiful, and everything tasted fresh and delicious.
You could also order other things for an extra charge (most at $1.50 a plate/order) like shrimp balls, squid balls, etc. Also, for an extra $1, you could have preserved egg broth.
So, when your broth begins to boil/simmer you start cookin.' Meats, and frozen tofu in first, 'cuz they take the longest to cook, and other stuff when you're ready. It takes cooking a pot or two to get the hang of it, how fast certain things cook, how well you like them cooked, the best order/combos for you. But it is serious fun! And tasty! And ridiculously healthy, besides!
Then you can enjoy the broth when you are done. My meat broth was clear when it came to me but the murky goodness I ended up with was very flavorful and tasty.
It's $7.50 and you can go back as many times as you want for as much stuff as you want. The folks there are really nice and they are happy to show you the ropes without making you feel like an idiot tourist.
It's raining again out there folks, go have some hot pot... ;o)