I’ve heard about Boiling Point, an LA-based Taiwanese hot pot chain, for quite a while now – my friends rave about it. Hot pot is what I fondly call “Chinese fondue”: you have a big pot of simmering broth in the center of the table, and you add various ingredients such as sliced meats, seafood, meatballs, mushrooms, vegetables, and noodles to cook. The cooked food is often eaten with a dipping sauce. I usually eat hot pot at least once when I visit my family.
Boiling Point is a bit different from the traditional style of hot pot in that each person gets his or her own small hot pot, with the ingredients already added into the soup when it is served to you. These individual-sized hot pots are becoming popular in Taiwan and has made their way to the U.S. Boiling Point is probably the most well-known hot pot restaurant in the SoCal area with seven locations. I recently visited the Irvine location with some friends who were craving hot pot. It was super crowded when we arrived – wait time of about 45 minutes (just enough for a 85C Bakery run! :P ).
There are several soup base flavors that you can choose from. The standard-sized flavors are: “house special” stinky tofu, seafood & tofu, Korean kimchi, spicy beef, pickled cabbage & lamb, curry fishball, and tomato & veggie. There are also large hot soups: spicy Taiwanese, Japanese miso, and Thai flavor. Each soup comes with an assortment of meats and vegetables, but you could also purchase add-ons.
Spicy beef hot pot: napa cabbage, vermicelli noodles, sliced beef, enoki mushrooms, tomatoes, firm tofu, tempura, corn, meatballs, kamaboko, fried tofu skin, imitation crabstick ($11.99)
S chose the spicy beef hot pot and ordered extra sliced pork. You could choose the level of spiciness for this pot… I believe he picked medium (it wasn’t very spicy). I was impressed with the amount and quality of ingredients that was included. The soup, though, wasn’t very impressive.
Spicy Taiwanese hot pot: Taiwanese cabbage, instant noodles, sliced beef, mushrooms, tempura, clams, fishballs, cuttlefish, pork blood, pork intestine, fried tofu skin, iced tofu ($15.99)
I chose the spicy Taiwanese hot soup, which is a large-sized pot and thus slightly more expensive. Again, I liked the ingredients, especially the pork intestine and fried tofu skin. There was only one spiciness level available for this pot – flaming hot. It wasn’t that bad for me, but some of my friends said that they would not be able to get past the first few bites. The portion was also quite large – I feel like I barely made a dent after eating for half an hour, and had to take the rest home.
For dipping: bean paste sauce, satay sauce, chili oil
As I’ve mentioned, the cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. Here we were presented with three kinds. I felt that my food was already flavored quite heavily (maybe because it’s so spicy) that there was no need for extra dipping sauce, but S told me that he liked the bean paste sauce.
Overall, I thought my meal at Boiling Point was not bad, but S didn’t like it. He doesn’t like hot pot very much to begin with, but he says that this was nothing spectacular and not worth the hype. I haven’t had much experience with individual hot pots before, so I’m not sure what the standard is, but I thought my hot pot was pretty good. Regardless, we both agreed that their Hokkaido milk tea was delicious.
Hokkaido milk tea
Boiling Point (Irvine Location)
14140 Culver Dr. #A, Irvine, CA
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm
Instant Noodle, Beef Sliced, Encomia Mushroom, Tempera, Clam, Foochow Fishball, Cuttlefish Ring, Pork Blood, Pork Intestine, Fried Tofu Skin, Maitake Mushroom, Iced Tofu.