Hotpot is meant to be a social experience, best for groups of two or more. Start by picking which broth you want; they can range from “clear” chicken broth to Malaysian-style curry broth, to Sichuan-style hot and spicy. Some establishments offer “ying-yang” pots with two different sections containing two different broths. Vegetarians can usually get options like a miso or mushroom-based broth; just make sure that “clear broth” you see isn’t actually chicken stock. You’ll also pick out a sauce, or in some places, go serve yourself at a sauce bar. The waiter will take care of heating your broth pot on a hot plate at the table. Your next step is to pick out ingredients, which will be brought to your table one by one. When the broth is simmering, throw in a few ingredients, wait a few minutes for them to cook, then fish them out and dip them into the sauce you’ve picked, and enjoy. We recommend starting with the vegetables and meat, finishing with a carb, like noodles, and at the end, ladling up the broth to drink as a now-extra-flavorful soup.
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