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)

Homestead Farm – Exploring Maryland

Since the weather has been mild the past week or so, we’ve been trying to find things to do outdoors. Last week, I wrote about Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City. Though I loved everything about the farm, we wanted to go somewhere closer to home. Enter Homestead Farm.

Homestead Farm

Homestead Farm is located in Montgomery County, Maryland, specifically in Poolesville. I don’t have stats on the acreage of this farm but it is rather large. Their pumpkin patch is one of the biggest I’ve seen.

On their site, you can see when fruits are in season so you can pick the time of when you want to go.

Cost? Admission is free! So just visit and see what they’ve got there =) The following is what we saw when we came in mid-October =)

Hay Ride

Like legit hay rides. During the weekends. You sit on a truck bed with hay and is pulled by a tractor! It’s great! Ok it’s $4 per person and free for under 2 year olds. What’s cool about this place is it’s a 20 minute ride all around the farm! The view is great and if company is awesome, then this ride is definitely fun! Ok Homestead Farm, I see you.

Petting Zoo

Not completely a petting zoo. You don’t really pet the animals but you do get rather close to them. My favorite is the little tiny spotted piggies. The kiddos definitely enjoyed this part and even the adults loved looking at the animals. A cool feature are the ramps/climbing places for the mountain goats! I like the fact that Homestead Farm thought about this feature. They also have chickens, more goats, and alpacas.. or llamas… I have no idea.

Apple Picking

Or fruit picking really. October is for apples. During the time we came, Pink Lady Apples were in season. There are tons! Just walk through the many aisles of apple trees and you can fill up a bucket in a short amount of time! Also they make for great pictures, okkkaayy?

Market

All the farms have great markets! This one is pretty big with lots of produce and jelly! They also had caramel apples! YUM!

 

Final Thoughts

 

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There aren’t as many things to do for kids as far as activities. But Homestead Farm is huge. You can still have your kids see many different things in the farm. It’s also nice because you get to spend time with your kids in some form of nature. I definitely loved seeing baby bro run around, looking at his surroundings. Good deal Homestead, good deal.

 

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

(All gifs are from giphy.com)

Badlands Playspace – Exploring Maryland

So here’s my first blog for my “Exploring Maryland” Series! And what better way to start off this series than something for parents and their kids! I’m talkin’ about Badlands Playspace! For the really hot days or the rainy days, this is the place to go to when you’re trying to get your kids out of the house! An indoor playground with built in activities for the kiddos? Yes please!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor am I affiliated with Badlands Playspace. This is literally just an honest to goodness review on this facility.

What is Badlands Playspace?

According to their website, Badlands Playspace is an indoor playground inspired by nature. It’s a 30,000 square foot facility that provides many activities for kids and for the parents to “relax in the café while the kids explore the open play area, climb the mountain, or tinker with a new tool.”

Pros and Cons

Before I go into the details, I may as well write the pros and cons in the beginning in case you don’t want to see all the details.

Pros:

  • Large play area
  • Toddler times during the fall so the larger kids don’t topple the little ones over
  • Different activities during the day to keep toddlers interested
  • Butterfly room – kids can explore and get real close to real butterflies!
  • Workshop room – for kids who don’t want to run around, there are many activities in the workshop
  • Complimentary Coffee/Water

Cons:

  • This can get pretty pricey
  • The website states that they do not allow outside food

Badlands Playspace

Before you go

Go online, fill out a waiver for each kid and then block out the time of when you’d like to go. Each admission gives you 2 hours of play, or if you’re a member, 3 hours of play.

The Space

Badlands Playspace is located on Randolph Rd in Rockville, MD. When you enter the facility, you can see that it’s a huge open space which is nice because it makes it seem like a very welcoming environment.

If you’ve already reserved your spot online before coming, you just go up to the counter and tell them the names of your children. They will ask if you’ve been there before and if you haven’t, they will ask if you’ve signed a waiver for your children (also online).

If you haven’t done any of those before coming, you can do so at the kiosk. They have 5-6 computers so you can register your children and sign the waiver. I do recommend registering your kids online and signing the waiver. It helps make things faster when you check in and going online shows you how crowded the space is and sometimes they do limit the number of kids at a time.

Open Playspace

The main area of Badlands Playspace is an open space that has tunnels and slides where kids can climb up a fake mountain to go down the slide. The only thing is, if you’re sitting in the cafe, you will not be able to see your kids if they’re on the other side of the mountain.

Toddler Space

Badlands Playspace really try to accommodate different ages. So they have a smaller space for toddlers so that they won’t get run over by the bigger kids. It’s right next to the cafe, so the parents can sit and “relax” while their toddler runs around this little space. Fair warning though. There are steps for climbing, so you won’t totally be relaxed if your little ones like climbing.

This is also one area where they come and have mini dance parties, which is nice so your kiddos can dance around while you get maybe a 5-10 minute break sitting at the cafe.

Workshop

If your kiddo is not into active play, there is a workshop for them where they can look at some pets that they have, play legos, and do other non-running activities. It also has huge windows that overlooks the small butterfly room so your kids can also take a look without going into the butterfly room itself.

Cafe

Coffee is complimentary! So is water! So that’s good. However, they do not allow outside food since they do sell food at the cafe. I’m not sure how much they enforce it. But I’m not a huge risk taker so I would bring some goldfish and water/milk for my kids and we eat on the way to Badlands Playspace and then right after we leave. To be honest, the kids are too busy playing anyway, so they don’t ask for food until we get into the car.

 

Birthday rooms

I don’t have great pictures of these rooms, but basically, you can host your kids’ birthday parties here and they set up your own room for the parties. They provide the food but I believe you can bring your own cake.

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Activities

Badlands Playspace also has tons of activities for toddlers this fall! Toddler times are Tuesdays-Thursdays from 10am-1pm. They have a yoga room where your kiddos can follow a yoga video. They also have an activities coordinator that help your children socialize with other kids.

There’s also a small butterfly room that is pretty cool! Your kids can take a closer look at butterflies as they fly around the room filled with plants and flowers.

 

Membership

Ok so let’s do the numbers. For general admission without membership, kids that are 3+ years old, it’s $20, 2-3 year olds are $12.50, adults are $5 each, and babies 0-12 months are free.

When you get the membership ($20/month for 1 kid, $30/month for 2 kids, $35/month for 3 kids or more), the general admission will be 50%, the adults are free, 3 hours of play (instead of 2 hours for non members), 20% discount at the cafe, and a free guest pass (1 kid and an adult) if you visit 3 times a month.

Is it Worth it?

Well, for one kid (3+ years old), it’s $25-30 per visit without a membership (depending on how many adults come). With a membership, it’s $10 per visit. So if you go twice a month, you’ve already made it worth it ($50-60 vs. $40).

For two kids (3+ years old), it’s $45-$50 per visit without a membership. With a membership, it’s $20 per visit. So if you go at least twice a month, you’ve already made up the difference ($90-$100 vs. $70).

So yes, I’d say it’s pretty worth it if you like the place =).

Bottom Line

Because of the weather these days, if your kids love the playground, this is a great place to go to. Yes, it’s a little expensive compared to free outdoor playgrounds. However, Badlands Playspace is really great to visit at least once. Save it for the days when you just need to get your kids out of the house if you must, but definitely give it a shot and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed =).

Good for parents? Yes
Good for kids? Yes
Good for the wallet? Ehhh? lol

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

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Exploring Maryland

I often get excited when we go out of state. Especially now with kids, we rarely get to do much when it comes to traveling. So when we do get a chance to go away, it’s always a big deal to me. But I realize lately that Maryland has tons to offer and I’ve been taking my state for granted. So I’ve decided to do a series on exploring Maryland!

Actually, this may be more like a new tab in my blog because I just want to be able share my experiences in Maryland-DC area. I’ll also put in my input as to whether the places we go to are good for kids because that’s my life now.

I’ve been struggling with blogging lately because I feel like my life has been “boring” just doing normal parent things. But then again, I think other parents would be interested in what may be happening in Maryland or the DC Metropolitan area that could be something fun for their kids as well! Or something just for just the parents to do for date days or date nights ;).

So here we go!! Join me as I explore Maryland!

Here are some previews of what I’ll blog about soon!!

Places to take the kiddos

Before kids, I had no idea that Maryland had all these places specifically for kids to run around in. Whoever thought of these places are geniuses. Yes please tire my kids out so they will pass out when we get home! Yassssss!

Badlands is great! We love going here 🙂

Rockville Town Center is also great for kids!

Places to eat!

I used to yelp a lot. I mostly wrote reviews on places I liked though, because what if the restaurant was just having a bad day? There were exceptions…. Anyway, I figure why not write full blown experiences on here? Maryland (or the DC metropolitan area) has many wonderful places that I want to write about!

I’ll write about whether or not these places would be good for kids or if they are more for adults only.

Yuraku
Cameron’s Seafood
SlapFish
Ambar

Other Things To Do In Maryland

Although I am a parent, I also want to make sure that I have my own life. I had a life before marriage and before kids. So I want to make sure that I explore Maryland (and the DC metropolitan area) for myself as well.

Ambar – Capitol Hill
Ocean City, MD
Ocean City, MD
Frederick, MD
La Casita Pupuseria – Takoma Park
Escape Room – DC
Exploring DC – Subway =P

So come join me as I embark on this new blogging adventure! I am excited to have a little bit more direction when it comes to blogging.

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