The broths at Urban Hot Pot are solid. The meat, veggies, and noodles, mostly nothing too different than any other Sichuan-style soup purveyor in our region. So why am I newly obsessed with it? Because sometimes my misanthropy wins. On those days that I can stand no more than a shred of human contact, I have a new destination.
That’s because ordering, summoning a server to pay, even reading a warning about undercooked meat, is all done on a tablet waiting for you at your table. Another nice touch: A full package of antibacterial wipes also awaited my party at each place setting. For someone who for years kept an “OCD kit” in the car to deal with my germ-phobia, this was everything I didn’t even know I wanted.
But I must admit that my enjoyment went beyond feeding some of my less wholesome instincts. My hot spicy soup with butter was just as advertised, a bubbling pot of numbing Sichuan peppercorns and chiles that left my lips tingling for hours after I’d finished my lunch.
The rich broth imbues everything cooked within, from the lean lamb and adipose pork belly to yuba (tofu skin) and slick mung bean noodles. The area in which the menu stands out is its more-than-ample supply of meatballs. Lobster balls, fish cakes stuffed with pork or roe, and standard beef are just a few of the options.
The sauce bar is also a standout for its already-prepared options. The peanut sauce adds a nutty creaminess to the spicy meats. Among make-your-own options, a recipe is posted for something identified as Mumpan sauce, a combination of the existing “meat sauce” with chiles, cilantro, scallions, garlic, and sesame for a tangy, herbaceous concoction that provides a delightful foil to the spicy broth.
And, of course, I enjoyed using the gloves provided at the sauce bar. Touching things that other people touched? So 2019.
2980 District Ave., Ste. 110, Fairfax
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