Seasonal eating can mean two things: Feasting on the bounty of the moment’s harvest or letting the weather dictate what you’re craving. I’ve never been particularly good at the second one. In fact, I’ve been known to lust after fondue on 100-degree days. But maybe I’m growing up. The last couple of weeks, as temperatures have begun dropping, I’ve had hot pot on my mind.
Yep, my body finally figured out that it might be a good thing to have some hot soup with my jacket weather. Or maybe the truth is, I’m just always thinking about one of my favorite styles of eating. Whatever it is, ever since eating at Omy Hot Pot & Bar in Annandale, I just can’t seem to get it out of my head.
The only thing better than all-you-can-eat hot pot is buffet hot pot, but for obvious reasons, it’s not a great time for that. Omy does have a make-your-own element in the form of a sauce bar. Right now, they require that diners use provided gloves to concoct their sauces. This took none of the fun away. I combined garlic, ginger, sesame oil, chile oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and cilantro to make my perfect dipping sauce. There are also premade sauces for those who aren’t as fussy about their flavors.
Each diner gets an individual hot pot. They can choose from eight different broths, and for an extra $2, they can change flavors during the course of the $27.99 meal. I chose the spicy mala broth, dotted with chiles and Szechuan peppercorns, which together made my lips tingle with numbing heat that was pleasant, not overwhelming. As it cooked down, it became increasingly delicious, so I had the server who added more broth only do it in tiny spurts.
The beef was some of the reddest I’ve ever seen, as evidenced by the photo above. All the shaved slices needed was a few seconds of swishing in the broth to attain optimal tenderness. Some of my other favorites, including udon noodles, Korean rice cakes and Napa cabbage, needed longer, but were worth the wait. Sweet corn cooked in the mala broth was an awakening. I might start preparing it that way at home.
Of course, since the meal is unlimited, that provides a challenge to ambitious trencherman. I only refilled on a couple of meats, but if variety is what diners are seeking, they’re in luck. There are almost 30 vegetables on the menu, not to mention, meats, seafood, noodles and assorted treats like eggs, fish balls and dumplings. And if my body keeps cooperating with the seasons, I’ll be looking forward to many more hot pot meals this winter.// 4230 Annandale Road, Annandale
For more foodie news, subscribe to our Food newsletter.