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Hot Pot Tips: How To Eat Hot Pot Like A Pro


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Tabinda M.

Featured Image - Hot Pot Tips: How To Eat Hot Pot Like A Pro

Chinese hot pot is a very popular traditional Chinese food with a history of over 1000 years. Thought to have emerged in Eastern Asia, the idea for a hotpot was first conceived by Mongolian leaders. The Mongolian hot pot dining experience allowed the leaders to taste and try the diverse foods of various regions all at once. And so, the Mongolian hot pot dining experience caught on real quick. If you’re asking yourself what is a Chinese hot pot, we’ve got you covered. So, what is a Chinese hot pot? A Chinese hotpot is a popular meal that is served through a simmering pot of fragrant soup stock. You can cook different ingredients in the pot and eat them while they’re hot. 


Today, a Chinese hot pot restaurant can be found almost anywhere in the world. If a restaurant serves Chinese food, they’re bound to serve hotpot too! In fact, many restaurants serving hotpot tend to have special customized menus with additional options like a hot pot buffet thrown in. So, if you’re having trouble deciding on a Chinese hot pot recipe, the restaurant can offer you a pre-designed Chinese hot pot recipe menu to choose your order from. Since hotpot is a communal dining experience, much like fondue, it’s a great way to socialize with friends and family while enjoying a great meal. If you’ve never tried hotpot before or you’re simply unsure of how to eat a hotpot properly, here are some quality tips on how to eat a hotpot like a pro right away.



Familiarize Yourself With The Tools To Eat Chinese Hot Pot With

Chopsticks over a hotpot

Photo by Leacky Chen on Pixabay


If you’re a complete newbie, you will need to familiarize yourself with the tools that are commonly used to eat Chinese Hot Pot. You will be provided with these tools if you visit a Chinese hot pot restaurant. But even if you’re planning to throw a hot pot party at home, having these tools around can significantly improve your overall Chinese food experience.


Eating a Chinese hot pot requires, you guessed it, a hot pot to hold the broth and let you cook your ingredients in. Normally, you would see a split hot pot (much like the Chinese yin-yang symbol) that can easily hold two different kinds of broths. You’ll also be using chopsticks. Usually, you’d be provided two pairs per person. One pair would be used to handle the ingredients that are to be cooked and the second pair for eating. And the last thing you’ll need is a strainer with a handle to keep track of all the ingredients being cooked by each person.



Ingredients That Take Longer To Cook Should Go Into The Pot First

Chinese hot pot with broth

Photo by Leacky Chen on Pixabay


While there are no hard and fast rules as to which ingredients you should put first, a good rule of thumb is to start by putting those foods that take the longest to cook. Chinese food items like Chinese cabbage should definitely be the first to go in. Other ingredients such as lettuce, potatoes, corn, radish, etc. should all be put into the hot pot first.



Choose An Appropriate Eating Pace

Hotpot containing broth

Photo by Spencer Wing on Pixabay


If you’re at a hot pot party or a hot pot buffet, you’ve probably got family and friends around that you’re eating your Chinese food with. And as delicious Chinese food and hotpot can be, selecting an appropriate pace is essential because you want to give everybody a chance to cook their ingredients in the hotpot. You can choose to cook a few ingredients and eat them first before putting more in.


Or you can also choose to cook your selected ingredients all at once. It’s up to you but remember to maintain a balance between eating and cooking. And while you’re at it, enjoy the experience. Chat and socialize with your family and friends, that way you’ll be more relaxed and the Chinese food will taste even better!



Put The Ingredients In The Hot Pot Slowly & Remember Not To Overcook

Cooked soup dish in gray stainless steel bowl

Photo by Wang Yan on Unsplash


A lot of first-timers forget this important tip completely, particularly those who have little experience using chopsticks. When you’re eating with a lot of other people, you want to make sure you observe your table manners. And when you’re eating Chinese hot pot, it is essential to put your ingredients in the hotpot slowly. This way you won’t splash the broth around. You don’t want all that delicious broth ruining other people’s clothes. That would be a massive inconvenience and a waste of all that tasty broth.


When you’re among friends and family, say at an all you can eat restaurant (because most all you can eat restaurants tend to serve great Chinese food and Chinese hot pot buffets), you can easily get carried away in conversation and forget to pay attention to your food ingredients cooking in the broth. A thinly slice meat will take anywhere between 10-20 seconds to cook. So, remember to pay attention to your ingredients and whisk them out quickly to avoid overcooking.



Do Not Cross Dunk & Be Sure To Finish Off With A Drink

Different food ingredients in a Chinese hot pot with chopsticks.

Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon on Unsplash


Most Chinese hot pots are split and divided to hold two kinds of broth at once. If your hotpot is split so that it can handle spicy broth at one side and plain broth on the other, do not cross dunk your food. A mild broth can get spicy in an instant and vice versa. Remember to cook your Chinese food ingredients in separate broths by deciding on a broth beforehand.


Most Chinese hot pot dining sessions tend to last over 2 hours. And once you’re done eating, remember to order a Tsing Tao beer to wash all that delicious Chinese food down. For non-drinkers, a plum tea might be a good option. Other drinks you can enjoy after your Chinese hot pot dining session include fermented milk drinks. Yogurt is also a good option if you’re feeling up for it.


But most importantly, remember to have fun. Trying out Chinese hot pot for the first time can seem daunting. But if you follow these easy tips, you’ll be eating hotpot like a pro in no time. There are many restaurants offering Chinese food and hotpot. In fact, most Chinese restaurants almost always serve hotpot alongside other Chinese food.


Chinese food is delicious on its own and sticking to Chinese food may be fun, but if you’re feeling a little adventurous, try out the Chinese hotpot dining experience for sure. If you haven’t tried out Hai Di Lao, add that to your list. Hai Di Lao is a great Chinese food chain that serves a one-of-a-kind hotpot dining experience. We hope these tips help you next time you sit down for a Chinese hot pot dining experience. All the best!