I’ve had hot pot so many times in the last couple months, I forget that not everyone knows what it is. The best way I’ve found to describe it is, “Like fondue, but instead of cheese, you have bubbling flavorful broth, and you dip raw meats, fish, dumplings and vegetables into the broth to cook them up and eat.” This generally gets the idea across, but you can’t really appreciate the experience until you are face to face with the bubbling delicious cauldron that is the Hot Pot.
Mekong Plaza Hot Pot is tucked away in the back corner of the amazing Mekong Plaza Asian shopping center. Even if you know it’s there, it’s still tricky to find. You go to the back right corner, where there is a food court, take a right, go past the curtains and it will be on the right hand side. It’s an intimidating journey for an outsider to make, but once you’re in, you’ll realize it was worth stepping outside your comfort zone.
The ordering process is similar to a sushi restaurant, where you have a card to mark off which broth you’d like, and what raw ingredients you’d like to enjoy. The broths range from House Herbal to Spicy Schezwan(which is by far my favorite). For ingredients, you have a menu with pictures to help, but you can figure out most of what is offered. Different cuts of Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Pork, along with Fish, Squid, Scallops, Shrimp and more exotic Abalone are some of the protein choices. For vegetables you have a large selection of mushrooms, greens, and root vegetables. Other choices include dumplings, quail eggs, fish balls, several types of tofu and a variety of noodles.
Once you’ve made your selections, the individual broths will make their way to the table. Each seat has its own temperature control, which is a nice change from the other Hot Pot places I’ve been which have the larger bowl of broth in the center which is controlled by the wait staff. Another place where Mekong Plaza Hot Pot excels is the selection of sauces and condiments to accompany the experience. Fried Garlic, Jalapenos, Sesame Seeds and sauces ranging from House Soy to Satay. The Spicy sauce(which isn’t very spicy) is nice and earthy.
Once you’ve got a table full of raw ingredients, there’s nothing left to do but get to work dipping, cooking and enjoying all the tasty food. I like to keep a small bowl of broth in front of me which is doctored up with garlic and spicy sauce. I’ll cook up my ingredients in the main boiling pot and then move them for a quick dip in my spicy broth before eating them. There aren’t any rules, so do whatever you enjoy!
I’ve been to Mekong Plaza Hot Pot five times now, and I have enjoyed myself each time. I will say that not all the ingredients are winners. The fish balls have a strange texture that doesn’t agree with my palate, the clams didn’t taste very fresh and the herbal broth is far too light for my liking. The beef cheeks were also a bit too fatty, and not in a good way. My recommendation is get Shezwan broth, ribeye, pork, bok choy(ridiculously good), enochi mushrooms, quail eggs and head on shrimp(if you enjoy them).
Go eat Hot Pot already! And bring some friends to share in the experience!
Mekong Plaza Hot Pot
66 S Dobson Rd
Mesa, AZ 85202
Open for Dinner at 5pm