Okay, I'm going to start this one off by saying that just because someplace is not so great of a solo dining place does not mean that it's not a great place to go. I decided (finally) to stop into Asian Hot Pot for the first time a couple weeks ago and I liked it so much that I brought a friend a week later.
The place is literally tucked in a corner on Corydon between Nikos and Freshii and I've seen it a zillion times over since I moved to Winnipeg, always wondering what it was like, but never trying it. But the beauty of going out alone is you can just say to yourself, 'Self, we're finding out what this restaurant is like right NOW.' So that's what I did.
|Their website is for take-out, so I don't |
believe their in-house menu is online.
Mmmmm... lookit all the noodles...
I don't know if there's other places that do this in Winnipeg, but I've never seen it; what they do at Asian Hot Pot is... a hot pot. They give you a burner, you pick a broth and then you kind of cook the stuff you ordered yourself.This was intimidating since I'd never done it before but only for about 13 seconds; the service here is AMAZING. The server did everything short of actually holding my hand to help me through this first hot pot experience. It's all-you-can-eat which she wisely picked up would not be a great option for me, so she graciously sold me the lunch special even though it was about 9 PM and told me precisely what I should order (one veg, one meat, one ball, one noodle). She then walked me over to the sort of condiment bar that they have (included in the price) and told me how that works (it's got green onions, garlic, spices, sauces - soy, oyster, and the like). They even have handy combos printed on the wall in case you are not sure what goes well together.
The broth is $2-5 above the cost of the all-you-can-eat (or in my case, 5 topping lunch special) and comes with free refills to accommodate your culinary endeavours. I'd ordered green onion and ginger broth and soft tofu, udon, bean sprouts, quail egg, and lobster ball for 'toppings'. My server gave suggestions on how long I should simmer everything and we had a great talk about how awesome noodles are and she invited me back to try all of them (I will).
Now, the down side of all this (for a solo diner) is that it is definitely a social eating kind of place. Going with others would have allowed me to try more things and dicking around on my phone was hard to do when trying to cook. It wasn't a cocktail kind of place, although there was beer and wine, so I just stuck with tea. Food-wise, everything was perfect. The only thing I'd recommend in terms of what to order/not order is to make sure you grab salt from the condiment bar - I didn't since, typically, Chinese food is super salty. The broth here doesn't seem to be salted at all, which is great if you're sharing since everyone has different tastes. Another sort of negative seems to be entirely with me; I made a huge freaking mess. A quick look around at other diners seems to dictate that this was my problem alone. If anyone can give some pro-tips on how to not look like a slob when eating here, I'll take them.
|Even though I enjoy eating animals, |
I am super pleased by all the tofu;I
really enjoy the stuff. I think I
counted eight different options
(two with fish in it though, sorry
Since this is a solo dining blog, this may seem a little off topic, but going with my friend who is super duper vegetarian brought out some points that might assist someone like me who doesn't eat animals. Again, the service was spectacular when we went and there is a good variety of vegetarian broths (all of the $2 ones can be vegetarian. The $5 ones can't since the upsell on those is that they have chunks of meat in them). You can see from my menu shots that there is a huge variety of vegetarian stuff and none of it has hidden animal products in it - if it says it's a noodle, it's just a noodle. Again, one of the servers accompanied us to the condiment bar where he gave my friend a personal tour of the vegetarian options (which was about 75% of the selection). There was also one point where my friend was about to say we should get a second pair of tongs as we were trying to figure out the order of things so that my animal choices didn't taint his soup, but before he finished his thought, a server just kind of materialized with a second set for us. As I said, every server here was almost magic they were so genuine and I really regret that I lack the income to lavishly and obnoxiously over-tip them.
So, to sum up: unless you have a much bigger appetite than me, this probably isn't a great option for you, dear solo date. But the food is unique and delightful, and the service rocks. Skip this one if you're looking for something more than ordinary in the alcoholic sense or want to look classy, because unless you discovered the secret that every other patron there seems to have mastered, you might get soup on your everything.