There's Hot Pot and there's Shabu Shabu. Without going into Google, I can give you my interpretation about the differences between the 2. Shabu Shabu is more about the quality of the meat, the ponzu, and the soup base which is normally a piece of kombu. Only a sophisticated tongue would be able to distinct a good kombu base from another. I don't have a sophisticated tongue, but I can tell the differences between ponzu's, goma sauce, and the quality of meats. Also, some Shabu Shabu's would end with ramen noodles. There's also Sukiyaki, but it's not the same cuisine, though similar. More contemporary restaurants will offer Sukiyaki, a savory soy based broth. I think offering sukiyaki is for those who are unfamiliar with shabu shabu. First timers will think shabu shabu is bland and flavorless.
Hot Pot on the other hand comes with an array of soup base choices. From herbal to spicy. There's also tomato bases, thai tom yum bases, curry, and satay (and more). Herbal and spicy is more traditional for a Hot Pot set up and also my choice when I do have it, especially spicy. Hot Pot also comes with more than just sliced meats and veggies. We have a variety of beef/tendon balls, squid balls, fish paste, squid balls with filling, all kinds of tofu, bean curd, glass noodles, udon noodles, mushrooms, pig intestines, and all kinds of veggies. The quality of meats for Hot Pot has gone up over the years. There's not really a restaurant that serves $10 AYCE hot pot anymore since the beef quality has gone up to USDA, Prime, and US Wagyu or US Kobe. Throughout the years of doing this at home, we decided to cut down on the extras, and just focus more on the ingredients that we really wanted to eat.
We bought 3 packs of rib eye, but 2 would've been enough. Some pork belly slices, imitation crab meat, bean curd, shiitake mushrooms, and veggies.
The pork belly was definitely the star. From time to time, I leave the pork belly in the soup. Just for flavor. But even if you eat it 10-20 minutes later, it's still very tender due to the amount of fat it has. We all agree to get more pork belly next time.
Watercress and pea sprouts. It looks like A LOT of veggies. And it was... but these will cook down so it's not as intimidating as it looks. Trust me, you would want to eat veggies with your hot pot.
Dried shiitake and bean curd were soaked in hot water to soften. This makes it easier for them to absorb the flavor of the broth as well as being able to eat them quicker.
Herbal Soup on top and spicy taiwanese on the bottom. Top brand is little sheep. The bottom one is by Baijia - Sichuan Flavor Hot Pot Seasoning. I loved the Baijia Sichuan flavor. It could be more numbing, but maybe I have to find the peppers and add them separately. I smashed a few garlic cloves to add in both soups and loaded them up with cilantro.
I made some white rice to accompany our hot pot. Meats and veggies were served with Bulls Head Satay Sauce. I mixed and egg with my satay sauce with a splash of soy sauce. This is how we hot pot.
Total spent: around $60. If you were to have this at an AYCE "All-you can-eat" restaurant it will cost you $20-$25 NOT including tax/tip. This fed 5 of us and we still had a pack and a half of meat left over. I do like eating out at restaurants for Hot Pot because of the clean up, but having it at home is so fun as well. That plus you could really pick out the quality of the ingredients.
If you have questions about hot pot-ing, just email me (daisy@foodwithinreach) or just leave a comment.