One year ago, the YPIA Asia-Pacific Program was launched by serendipity at the Sichuan hot pot restaurant Mala Tang in Arlington, Virginia. With Chinese Lunar New Year fast approaching, why not go back?
On February 4th, YPIA members came out to try this unique dining experience and maybe defrost their winter-weary bones.
So What is the Sichuan Hot Pot Experience?
I am glad you asked! As the name indicates, this type of hot pot is inspired by the spicy gastronomical traditions of Sichuan province in southwest China. This meal is perfect for winter because the red spices and peppers combination will numb your tongue but please the soul. Over the years, the mega-city of Chongqing has become identified as a center of hot pot cuisine. The YPIA experience stayed as faithful to the traditions as possible.
Hot pot is meant to be enjoyed in a communal manner and the food is cooked at the table in front of you. Everyone shared their food because YPIA members were looking for an authentic night out. Basically the meal is soup-based and diners get their own individual pot with a choice of spicy or mild broth. The broth is allowed to boil while the group chooses various ingredients to share including meats, seafood, and vegetables.
Our food was placed on a board that was moved around the table in a circular motion. Everyone picked out what they wanted and dropped it into the pot to cook. A condiments bar was available to create customized dipping sauces. Interestingly, hot pot cuisine can also be found in different variations throughout East and Southeast Asia.
Throughout the evening, lively conversations took place while keeping one eye on the food cooking under our noses. Of course the best part of the night was tasting our hot pot creations while sharing the experience with friends.
Predictably the bowls were empty by the end of the night.
One year later and only more outings are in the works. I invite you all to check out our next Asia-Pacific meetup that will celebrate Lunar New Year at the Smithsonian’s Freer Sackler Gallery on February 21st. Please click on the link below for more information on that event and others YPIA is planning for its members.
Until next time….