Urban Hot Pot – Exploring Maryland

I was trying to refrain from writing about restaurants because I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be with sites already dedicated to restaurant reviews. But I realize that most of the places I go to in Maryland are food places! And well, it is my blog and since I love food so much, then why not share about my experiences! Ergo, Urban Hot Pot. Why start out with this place? Because I just recently went and so it’s fresh in my mind!

What is “HotPot”?

It’s a cooking method that involves boiling/simmering bowl of soup with which you place a variety of foodstuffs in to cook it. I believe it originated in China but I do know a lot of other Asian cultures have their versions of it. It’s basically the Asian version of fondue if you will – except instead of cheese, it’s broth.

Urban Hot Pot

I believe Urban Hot Pot opened early last year (2018) or mid to late 2017. There are many hot pot places in Maryland but I must say that I like Urban Hot Pot’s concept (which I’ll describe more below). The place is so clean, which is nice, because typically, in restaurants where people cook their own food, the place tends to be a little greasy  or at least doesn’t look as swell kept. I don’t know if it’s because this place is new-ish that it feels clean or they are just thorough when they clean it. Either way, I approve of their cleanliness.

Their Concept

Urban Hot Pot is an all you can eat type of restaurant with a rotating conveyor belt where ingredients are put on for your convenience. This is only located in the middle tables though. The tables on the side (as well as the tables in the middle), come with iPads where you can put in your orders. Each person gets their own pot of their choice of broth on top of their own “stove.” Everyone gets up to 2 hours to stuff their faces. Simple enough right??

Basic Info

Lunch: $18.99 per person
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: $25.99 per person
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 11pm
Friday: 5pm – 12am

Weekend/Holidays: $25.99
Saturday/Holiday: 12pm – 12am
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

There are some options during dinner that are not available during lunch – hence the price. There are also some things on the menu that you have to pay extra for – including drinks. But to be honest, the ones included in the price are great! No need to get the extra ones unless it’s something you’re really aching to taste =)

The Sauces

Urban Hot Pot has their own sauce bar which include soy sauce, peanut sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and lots of other sauces you can combine to make your own. My go-to is a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar… but you do you brah, you do you!

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The Extras

There’s also a bar for “sides” and desserts. Urban Hot Pot also has a frozen yogurt machine – a little tip – keep eating the hot pot stuff, the froyo is just ok.

My Thoughts

So I’ve been to Urban Hot Pot a few times and here are some tips as well as pros and cons.

Tips

Urban Hot Pot opens at 12pm. Get there at 11:45am so you can sit right away and pick out the middle booths you want. Otherwise, you may have to wait 2 hours since they give people 2 hours to eat all they can!

If you do get lucky and sit in the middle section, you want the 4 seater… the 6 seater is big but harder to get to the conveyor belt and the iPad (for ordering) located near the conveyor belt.

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The tables that are not in the middle uses iPads to get the orders. Look through the choices. Make sure you scroll left and right as well so you can see all the choices you have.

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Pros

The thing that stands out with Urban Hot Pot is the ordering through iPad. Once you master this, service is pretty good. It’s not only a way to order food, but you can also use the iPad to get more napkins, get some drinks, or if you just need to ask them a question – these options are on the iPad.

The conveyor belt is great because you don’t even have to use the iPad to order stuff. Just wait for whatever you want to come to you, and there you go!

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You get your own bowl of broth in Urban Hot Pot! They fill it up any time you want (within those 2 hours). I know in some places, the bowl is in the middle of the table and people just share the broth. So it’s kind of nice having your own so you can pick what type of broth you want.

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Cons

Urban Hot Pot is probably not the most kid-friendly of places. By “kid” I mean 5 and below. I mean it’s a pot of hot soup  right in front of you. It takes time to “cook” the food and what toddler likes to wait and not touch anything while waiting.

The bigger tables have 1 iPad for the whole crew. So unless someone is ok ordering for everyone the whole dinner, then some people may get frustrated.

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Overall

I do really like this place. I would definitely go here again and again. Give it a go! It’s a good place to try. Also, I love hot pots so I guess this review is biased toward hot pot places. But I truly enjoyed eating here. I took my time and just chugged along.

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Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Filipino Food 101: Picadillo – Inay’s Recipe

It’s been a while since I wrote up a recipe for anything! My mom came to visit over the weekend and we had some time for her to teach me one of my favorite Filipino foods. It’s not fancy, it’s probably not something you’ll find in a Filipino restaurant, and it’s probably not something someone will think of when you ask them what their favorite Filipino food is. But I love it because it’s easy to make and it’s comfort food for me especially in the cooler months. Anyway, get excited! Here’s how she makes picadillo!

What is Picadillo?

This dish is a stew that consists of ground beef, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas that was inspired by the Spaniards when they colonized the Philippines. However, my mom’s version is way different and I love it just the way it is.

My mom’s picadillo doesn’t consist of potatoes, carrots and peas, and instead of ground beef, we use ground turkey. So it really is nothing like the “original.”  But I love it and I wanted to share it with you! It’s easy to make and it has veggies and great for toddlers!

Ingredients

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 16 oz cans of chicken broth (you can get the less sodium one if you want)
  • Spinach or Bok Choy (if you use bok choy, chop it up to smaller pieces so it’s easier to cook)

Instructions

  1. Wash all produce.
  2. Mince garlic cloves, dice the tomato and onion.

  3. On medium high heat, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the minced garlic and diced onion in a large pan until it’s fragrant and the onions are shiny.

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  4. Add the tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are soft and cooked through. E wanted to “help” so I let her stir during this time. She subsequently got tired of stirring after 2 minutes and said “Mommy, you can do this now.” Thanks for the help bud!

  5. Add the ground turkey and cook through. Then add salt and pepper to taste*. There’s no measurements here. You just gotta taste it and make sure it’s not bland. Keep in mind that the chicken broth will also add saltiness!

  6. Then add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. This helps with the turkey absorbing some of the flavor from everything in the pan.

  7. Add the spinach or the bok choy and increase heat until it boils. Then decrease heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked but not wilted.

*You can use salt or my mom will sometimes use fish sauce to taste… don’t knock it til you try it I say 😉

How to Eat

You can either eat picadillo over rice or quinoa or just by itself! There are no rules! You do you!

I especially made this dish a lot (well my version… not my mom’s) when I was trying to incorporate veggies into the kids’ meals. It’s hard for me to think up of dishes to get greens into their system, so I’m glad I got picadillo up my sleeves.

Anyway, hope you enjoy picadillo as much as I do. It’s quick and easy so give it a try!

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Check out other recipes in my “I Like Food” section of my blog.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs from giphy.com)

Korean Food 101: Kimchi Jiggae

Disclaimer: I am not Korean. I am Filipino through and through. I do, however, love korean food (and filipino food). Before I met my husband (who is Korean), all I knew about korean food is a korean bbq place called Il Mee in Annandale, VA. Since we met in 2007 (whoa… we old…), he has introduced me to a plethora of different korean dishes which I immediately loved. Except for the really spicy korean food… i’m a weakling when it comes to that.

Another Disclaimer: I am not a good cook. I can follow a recipe and it will turn out fine… but I cannot make things up in my head. I can’t come up with the concept of what goes well with what. So I’m a lost cause… maybe.

My in laws stayed with us this past week and omma was gracious enough to teach me how to cook her version of kimchi jiggae, which is by the way, my favorite kimchi jiggae. I’ve tried them in restaurants, and they just don’t compare.

So in an attempt to share my love for korean food (or any food in general), here’s her “recipe” for Kimchi Jiggae (kimchi soup).

Last disclaimer: when you’re a good cook, there doesn’t seem to be a need to measure anything. Hence, the quotation marks on the word “recipe.” So this is essentially just some guidance on how to make kimchi soup. The measurements will have to be trial and error.

Here is what you will need:

  • Olive Oil – just enough so nothing sticks onto the pan
  • Pork shoulder – cut into cubes (1-1.5 inches in size it looked like)
  • Minced garlic – appa said that the more you use, the better! So throw that in there unsparingly
  • Dwenjang – soybean paste, also spelled “doenjang” which you can find in korean markets
  • Kimchi – not all kimchi is created equal; in-laws say “mat” kimchi is the best one to use for this soup
  • Potatoes – cut into any shape you want (just don’t throw whole potatoes in the soup – that’s not right ;-))
  • Anchovie broth – appa made the broth and swear it ups the level of the soup – he’s right; omma says if you don’t have that, “use water, it’s ok” haha love them!
  • Medium firm Tofu -sometimes in stores you can see on the label that the tofu is for “jiggae” – get that one
  • Onion – coarsely cut, doesn’t have to be tiny
  • Vegetables/toppings – here’s where you can add any veggies or toppings you may want (since I’m not one to know what goes well with what, zucchinni, and mushrooms are a good go-to)
  • Carbs – omma did not add this, but she said you can add rice cakes or noodles to the soup if you’d like
  • Green Onions – “for decoration” is specifically what omma says

Whoa that was a lot. But I promise it’s delish and that’s why I wanted to share it. Ok here’s how you make it… sorta… i mean like I said.. trial and error people.. trial and error.

Heat up that pan on medium-high heat and drizzle some olive oil on it. Add the cubed pork shoulder (maybe 1.5 – 2 lbs worth) on it and start to stir it around.

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While that’s cooking, go ahead and put a dollop or more of minced garlic… I mean if I have to measure it… I’d say 2 tablespoons or so? Then mix it together so the pork will have some flavor on it.

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Time for the dwenjang/doenjang/soybean paste – it does not look appetizing, but what paste does? Trust the process people, trust. I’d say double the size of the garlic but be warned that this is rather salty, so if you want it less salty, don’t put so much on there. Then mix mix mix! Until the outer park of the pork has browned.

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Then it’s mat kimchi time. See that bowl? That whole bowl’s worth. Hahah.. hmmmm like 2.5-3 cups. Trial and error people, trial and error.

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Add the cubed potatoes. In this recipe, we used 1.

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Then the anchovie broth (or water if you don’t have anchovie broth – appa said he’ll teach me how to make it next time so maybe I’ll put a link here if I remember). Bring it to a boil.

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Then add the vegetables/toppings, onions and tofu. Here’s where you decide how much to put. I don’t think it really matters, but just make sure you have enough broth for whatever you put in there.

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Then I think you can put the noodles and or the rices cakes the last 3-5 minutes (we didn’t, so no pics of that).

Lastly, the green onion to make it pretty.

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There you go! I hope that was sorta helpful and hope that if you’re interested on making it, that it goes well for you and that you like it.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of the day!

 

 

Korean Food 101: Kimchi Jiggae

Disclaimer: I am not Korean. I am Filipino through and through. I do, however, love korean food (and filipino food). Before I met my husband (who is Korean), all I knew about korean food is a korean bbq place called Il Mee in Annandale, VA. Since we met in 2007 (whoa… we old…), he has introduced me to a plethora of different korean dishes which I immediately loved. Except for the really spicy korean food… i’m a weakling when it comes to that.

Another Disclaimer: I am not a good cook. I can follow a recipe and it will turn out fine… but I cannot make things up in my head. I can’t come up with the concept of what goes well with what. So I’m a lost cause… maybe.

My in laws stayed with us this past week and omma was gracious enough to teach me how to cook her version of kimchi jiggae, which is by the way, my favorite kimchi jiggae. I’ve tried them in restaurants, and they just don’t compare.

So in an attempt to share my love for korean food (or any food in general), here’s her “recipe” for Kimchi Jiggae (kimchi soup).

Last disclaimer: when you’re a good cook, there doesn’t seem to be a need to measure anything. Hence, the quotation marks on the word “recipe.” So this is essentially just some guidance on how to make kimchi soup. The measurements will have to be trial and error.

Here is what you will need:

  • Olive Oil – just enough so nothing sticks onto the pan
  • Pork shoulder – cut into cubes (1-1.5 inches in size it looked like)
  • Minced garlic – appa said that the more you use, the better! So throw that in there unsparingly
  • Dwenjang – soybean paste, also spelled “doenjang” which you can find in korean markets
  • Kimchi – not all kimchi is created equal; in-laws say “mat” kimchi is the best one to use for this soup
  • Potatoes – cut into any shape you want (just don’t throw whole potatoes in the soup – that’s not right ;-))
  • Anchovie broth – appa made the broth and swear it ups the level of the soup – he’s right; omma says if you don’t have that, “use water, it’s ok” haha love them!
  • Medium firm Tofu -sometimes in stores you can see on the label that the tofu is for “jiggae” – get that one
  • Onion – coarsely cut, doesn’t have to be tiny
  • Vegetables/toppings – here’s where you can add any veggies or toppings you may want (since I’m not one to know what goes well with what, zucchinni, and mushrooms are a good go-to)
  • Carbs – omma did not add this, but she said you can add rice cakes or noodles to the soup if you’d like
  • Green Onions – “for decoration” is specifically what omma says

Whoa that was a lot. But I promise it’s delish and that’s why I wanted to share it. Ok here’s how you make it… sorta… i mean like I said.. trial and error people.. trial and error.

Heat up that pan on medium-high heat and drizzle some olive oil on it. Add the cubed pork shoulder (maybe 1.5 – 2 lbs worth) on it and start to stir it around.

img_2200.jpg

While that’s cooking, go ahead and put a dollop or more of minced garlic… I mean if I have to measure it… I’d say 2 tablespoons or so? Then mix it together so the pork will have some flavor on it.

img_2201

Time for the dwenjang/doenjang/soybean paste – it does not look appetizing, but what paste does? Trust the process people, trust. I’d say double the size of the garlic but be warned that this is rather salty, so if you want it less salty, don’t put so much on there. Then mix mix mix! Until the outer park of the pork has browned.

img_2202

Then it’s mat kimchi time. See that bowl? That whole bowl’s worth. Hahah.. hmmmm like 2.5-3 cups. Trial and error people, trial and error.

img_2219

Add the cubed potatoes. In this recipe, we used 1.

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Then the anchovie broth (or water if you don’t have anchovie broth – appa said he’ll teach me how to make it next time so maybe I’ll put a link here if I remember). Bring it to a boil.

img_2221

Then add the vegetables/toppings, onions and tofu. Here’s where you decide how much to put. I don’t think it really matters, but just make sure you have enough broth for whatever you put in there.

img_2209

Then I think you can put the noodles and or the rices cakes the last 3-5 minutes (we didn’t, so no pics of that).

Lastly, the green onion to make it pretty.

img_2218

There you go! I hope that was sorta helpful and hope that if you’re interested on making it, that it goes well for you and that you like it.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of the day!