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KARACHI: Traditional Chinese hot pot, which traces its origin as far back as the Zhou dynasty, has fast become a local favourite amongst Karachi’s foodies and a veritable mainstay amongst the plethora of eateries.

Exactly as the name describes it, hot pot is a simmering pot of flavorful broth, spiced accordingly to taste with ingredients to match. Traditionally, hot pot ingredients can include anything from thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, vermicelli, to include sliced potatoes, bean products, egg dumplings, tofu, seafood and more.

To prepare, raw ingredients are served pre-sliced into thin sections that will cook quickly in the simmering broth, which is maintained at a consistent boiling temperature. Its uniqueness, whether enjoyed at home or at a restaurant, lies in the thrill of the live cooking experience, a rare feat in this town and a communal one at that.

Although offered all year round, hot pot is especially popular in the scarce winter months in Karachi due to the comforting warm broth.

We have a round-up of a few hot pot offerings around town for you to treat your taste buds to. Happy tasting!

Wang Wang Chinese Restaurant

The first restaurant to offer hot pot in Karachi, Wang Wang is considered the quick and easy version of a hot pot offering. With a choice of clear and spicy broths, the spicy one is offered for an extra charge for those looking to challenge their spice threshold. The raw ingredients on offer include mushrooms, potatoes and more to different kinds of meats like squid, chicken and prawns. The food is of course cooked by you, which is the basic premise of it, and they have enough variety of ingredients depending on season and availability of course.

Floating at about Rs3,000 per person, Wang Wang is pretty basic as sometimes food can be served in plastic dishes, with plastic cling film on top. It is located at Tauheed Commercial.

Totoro

Located on a rooftop space in D.H.A, this is the more elevated version of a hot pot offering, owing to its ingredients and ambience.

Known for its various cuts of meat, this restaurant also offers a few types of broths – a Mongolian, a spicy Sichuan, an extra spicy Sichuan and another known as the Haroon special.

Picture courtesy: Totoro
Picture courtesy: Totoro

The Mongolian is a creamy broth while the Haroon special is a spicy creamy Szechuan broth – the latter being personal favorite of late also because it is not available at other hot pot places.

As for ingredients, Totoro offers premium cuts of fancy meats and other protein such as a Wagyu sirloin, Angus beef, an A5 Japanese Hokkaido, red snapper, crabsticks and more.

The rest, including its vegetables are in accordance with the rest around town. Notable here are their dumplings, which are tinier but tastier than the rest.

To top off this decadent meal, Totoro offers a chocolate mousse.

The portion size is smaller than Wang Wang but the space is cleaner and the food is served in China – serve ware that is. The price point of this eatery sits at approximately Rs3,500 per person.

Hot Pot Karachi

Having started out by home catering, this hot pot joint became all the rage especially during the lockdown months, where gatherings at home with our near and dear were our only respite.

This popular entity has now opened a restaurant space on the rooftop of Nueplex in D.H.A. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, it’s the better option to cater to large parties. This would also be my recommended eatery to use to for home-catering events.

They offer two types of broths - clear and spicy Szechuan. Their focus is on fresh ingredients and a flavorful meal in a hygienic environment and they definitely deliver that. In addition to the usual raw ingredients, they have a delicious peanut dip, and a sesame-chili one, for extra flavor to go with your meat or vegetables. This is highly recommended. This meal is too priced at about Rs3,000 per person.

Patrons of all spaces mentioned above argue amongst their preferred attributes, with some claiming Wang Wang the more authentic option of the lot. I recommend trying it for yourself. The deciding factor, no doubt, lies in the variety of condiments and ingredients on offer, and of course the freshness of it. Whether they are here to stay remains to be seen, but for now a novelty that must be tried at least once, especially for those with a penchant for an authentic Chinese experience.

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