Since 2012, Hotto Potto has been that unique restaurant that blends tasty Chinese food and the experience of participating in your meal’s creation with the person who sits across from you. This is accomplished by the centerpiece and also the type of meal which Hotto Potto specializes in, called a Hot Pot.
This type of communal meal is common in the cuisine of many different asian cultures. The owner, Alan Bustillo, describes the experience as a sort of asian fondue, or Sunday barbeque. To make a hot pot would be too much work for one person to do alone. So one family in a neighborhood in Asia will provide the pot with the broth, while any family who wants to partake in the meal will bring a type a food to the house to share. Foods to bring often include vegetables like cabbage or broccoli, as well meats like pork or fish. The more, the better. They all get thrown into the pot, and the re-creation of this communal experience is the mission of Hotto Potto.
The experience of first sitting down at one of their custom made tables with hot pot in between guests, might be a little intimidating. With this in mind, the helpful servers are always available to guide guests with their almost limitless numbers of dining options.
Diners get to choose from around eight different broths, including miso, creamy onion, tom yum, thai lemon with shrimp, curry, and avocado. Hotto Potto takes pride in its broth, as some of its competitors simply use salt and water for their starting broth. Each of the two diners can choose a separate broth for the pot, which can be separated, one from another, by a metal divider down the center.
Next, choose from one of several ingredient combos, which have a collection of meats, vegetables and seafoods. The homemade dumplings and homemade balls are also included, and made of seafoods like shrimp and lobster as well as other fare. Those looking for a custom meal can add or choose entirely from a list of one-hundred and forty ingredients. Broccoli, soy proteins like tofu, or bok choy can be combined with other veggies to form an entirely vegetarian based ingredient list. Rare items like giant clam, sea urchin, razor clams, geoduck, and other sea delicacies are part of this long list. Hotto Potto is also the only hot pot restaurant to serve Australian Abalone.
Once your ingredients arrive, it's time to throw a few of them into the now bubbling and deliciously fragrant broths before you. The server will inform you of your recommended cooking times for the meat, but you can watch for them to float in most cases.
While you wait for your foods to cook, you can experiment with the many customizable sauce choices on the table that sits to the side of your pot. The sauce cart is one of the most interesting features of Hotto Potto, which is the only hot pot restaurant to bring your sauces to you table side. All the sauces, as well as many other items, are homemade by the owner’s mother, Aidi, who has been a Chinese chef for over thirty years. The sauces themselves offer an array of bases and spicy or sweet flavors to be mixed with one another or simply kept separate. Some have a beef bases, some pork, and then can be added to with peanut sauces or garlic and ginger. Each server has their own signature favorite and hold a lot of pride in their mixes. Tom’s sauce was particularly good.
After a few of your foods are done cooking, ladle them onto your plate with the strainer and use a proper ladle to make a personal bowl of soup. Your broccoli or chicken pieces will be flavored by the broth and further enhanced by your custom sauces.
It may not seem like a lot of food when you look at the uncooked dining ingredients on your plate, but even one of the smaller combos will offer you and your dining partner more than enough to eat, especially with the flavor soaking noodles you add at the end. Don’t despair though, to-go containers are a must, at least one for each broth, and will go a long way to enhancing your next meal at home. Once you add a little, chat a little, strategize a little about what to add next, then have some soup with or without noodles, and try all your sauces you will be plenty full, we promise.
Oh, and don’t forget desserts too. Mochi ice cream and the ice cream sandwich are also on the menu, giving even more unique flavors after your meal. Alcohol is also served at their full bar and make a great companion to your meal. Expansions are in the works for Hotto Potto, with a new location being scouted for either Waterford Lakes or Downtown Orlando.
Make sure you bring your appetite and your favorite dining partner to this fantastic restaurant that has personal charm, a unique style of cooking, nutritional fair, and wonderful service.