Our top spots for hot pot


Woodbridge Village Center

Shabu-shabu – a hot-pot dish of sliced and boiled meat and vegetables with dipping sauces – translates swish-swish in Japanese, the sound of ingredients being stirred. But the best shabu destinations in Irvine may be Korean. Create-your-own, all-you-can-eat, contemporary and well-priced destination Dpot Unlimited offers about a half-dozen broths, four meat options each at lunch and dinner, and steamed short-rib or pork-belly stacker sides – not to mention beer, sake and soju. 

Nice to Meet You Skewer Hot Pot

Culver Plaza

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province; Sichuan is China’s capital of mouth-numbing and spicy food. The Chengdu hot-pot style chuan chuan – “fragrant skewers” – involves marinated meats and vegetables in boiling broth. At attractive Nice to Meet You, broths range from super-mild tomato to blistering spicy beef tallow. Completing the experience are premium meats, plus myriad familiar and unfamiliar self-serve ingredients, toppings and dipping sauces. Every visit is an adventure. 

Biryani Pot Express

Los Olivos Marketplace

No pots on the table at new Biryani Pot; rather, the menu is inspired by the clay-pot cuisine of Hyderabad, India. Express? The modest venue is as fast as the dishes are tasty. Signature items include Hyderabadi goat dum biryani and chicken dum biryani, each marinated in masala sauce, slow-cooked and served with aromatic basmati rice; weekends bring their own biryanis. Familiar curries, vindaloos and masalas, and vegetarian items abound.