AN hot pot restaurant is the dining equivalent of a self-selected adventure novel. Floating around a cauldron of fragrant broth filled with red chili bombs and Sichuan peppercorns, you’re waiting for the perfect moment to savor oyster mushrooms, cabbage, bean sprouts, daikon, sesame paste, egg tofu, fish balls, shrimp, and all sorts of thinly sliced meats and offal. Most of these will only take a few seconds to cook, but this fact only partially tempers the anticipation.
Often your meal comes with a literal shot of danger. You have to use your chopsticks or ladle in the steaming pot to try and get around fish and coveted ingredients without burning yourself. For clumsy eaters who want to preserve all three layers of skin (is that too much to ask?), there’s another way: chuan chuan xiang hot pots.
Chuan chuan xiang hot pot restaurants serve ingredients on skewers rather than loosely on plates, which has several advantages.
Sliding skewers into boiling stock generally means less spattering. The skewers are also easier to find and they are usually one bite so you can sample more items because you don’t have to order an entire plate. Ingredients are often self-serve, so if a skewer of tender beef wrapped around a mass of enoki mushrooms or a strip of delicate tofu skin or a single spicy chicken heart catches your eye, all you need to do is reach into one of the refrigerators in the dining area and grab one. Plus, who wants multiple people spinning their chopsticks in the same pot while we’re in the middle of a pandemic?
Hailing from the city of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province, hot pot restaurants with skewers have been popular since the 1980s. They’ve been popping up in Southern California since 2018, and unfortunately a few have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. As with so many food trends, ground zero is the San Gabriel Valley, the epicenter of regional Chinese cuisine in Los Angeles County.
Now that the weather is cooling down (we hope!), now is the perfect time to try a chuan chuan xiang hot pot. These four restaurants excel in this.
Malubianbian, meaning “side of the road,” is a much-loved chain from Sichuan. In the two SGV outposts, blueberry-tinted tables are inspired by the blue of Chinese opera masks, while the walls are painted with scenes from 1980s China, a nod to the time when chuan chuan xiang became popular. It has the typical make-your-own sauce buffet, where you can put together your own sauces by combining coriander, green onions, oyster sauce and satay, among other things. Unique to Malubianbian is the ready-to-use paste of ground peanuts and dried chili. It’s not ready until you get to your table and fill your sauce bowl with a spoonful of stock from your hot pot. The result is a slightly sweet, buttery, spicy mouthful.
Choose from four soup bases – special spicy pot, special spicy drip pot, spicy mushroom or spicy tomato – all of which can be adjusted with three levels of heat. Then choose from over 30 skewers of vegetables, seafood and meat. Skewers cost $0.38 each and consist of one bite of food. More expensive pieces of meat are cut into two or more pieces. A meal for two of 50 skewers, a few bunches of chrysanthemum leaves, and a plate of egg tofu costs $35-$40 per person. Both locations have indoor and outdoor seating. They are open for dinner Monday through Thursday. They open at noon Friday – Sunday.
301 W. Valley Blvd, Ste 112-113., San Gabriel. 626-656-6140.
18194 Colima Rd., Ste A., Rowland Heights. 626-820-9206.
Nice 2 Meet You
Tucked in the corner of one of SGV’s countless strip malls, Nice to Meet You is larger than most self-service restaurants in chuan chuan xiang, with 26 tables. The unobtrusive exterior hides a sleek interior decorated with muted Chinese lanterns and antique carved wooden dividers where Chinese techno and rap thump from the speakers. The three soup bases – house seasoned beef tallow, tomato and spicy soup, and mushroom soup and spicy soup – can be adjusted to your heat preference. We recommend the tomato and spicy soup base, which has a satisfying sweet and spicy taste.
You can choose from about 25 different skewers, including spicy enoki mushrooms, duck tongue, pork belly, oyster mushrooms, bok choy, king prawns and fish balls. There are also combo plates with non-skewered vegetables (crown daisy, spinach, Chinese cabbage) and mushrooms. At the sauce buffet, all ingredients are clearly labeled in English. Don’t miss the rich, homemade sesame oil, the perfect base for your dipping sauce. You get great value for money with Nice to Meet You. A meal for two with all fixings is about $30 per person, before tip.
227 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel. 626-293-7099.
18194 Colima Rd, Ste A, Rowland Heights. 626-293-7099
Defended by Jonathan Gold, Chengdu Flavor is often credited with bringing authentic Sichuan cuisine to L.A. While best known for its toothpick cumin lamb, mouth-burning cold diced rabbit, and dramatic gilded lionfish (served standing on its stomach), it also offers chuan chuan xiang skewers , which are served ready to eat so you don’t have to cook them at the table. A server brings a shallow bowl to your table, along with a tower of skewers standing upright in a bowl of chili oil. Each contains one bite, perhaps lotus root or chicken or a piece of pork intestine.
The special at Chengdu Taste, Boiling Vegetable and Meat in Sichuan Style Special Hot Sauce, is a breathtaking, peppery oil topped with sliced serrano chili and a heap of Sichuan peppercorns. Don’t sleep on the mung bean jelly with chili sauce, a refreshing appetizer topped with peppercorns, peanuts, and chilies. Expect to spend $55-$60 for a meal for two.
828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. 626-588-2284.
Szechuan style restaurant The Hibiscus Treereplaced the much-loved Green Zone restaurant in Valley Plaza. The interior is clean and modern and can accommodate about 30 people. Customers are greeted by neon signs in Mandarin Chinese, which translates to “under the hibiscus tree.” A wall-sized dramatic artwork depicts a Chinese empress with piercing red eyes.
Hibiscus Tree specializes in maocai, a Sichuanese stew. It’s similar to a hot pot, except the ingredients are fully cooked when they come to the table. You can also opt for a regular hot pot in four different soup base flavors: the signature red oil, tomato, rattan pepper, and pork bone. Precooked skewers are available at the buffet for $0.68 each. You can order a preset selection of skewers in green or red chili sauce. Hibiscus Tree is currently offering a Yelp check-in deal for a free Szechuan Style dessert, which consists of a clear jelly topped with dates and goji berries. It makes a hearty end to a fiery meal. Prepare to pay over $35-$40/person for a dinner for two.
534 E. Valley Blvd., Ste. 4-5., San Gabriel. 626-872-0140.
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Black Friday may be — technically — over, but PC hardware sellers are still keeping a lot of prices low for Cyber Monday. Some hefty deals are also lurking, such as this huge savings on the MSI Optix MAG272CQR gaming monitor.
After the stormy weekend, there can be no doubt that winter is coming.
Storm Arwen swept across the UK with devastating effects, including the death of a primary school principal after a tree fell on his car in County Antrim.
While Northern Ireland has managed to escape much of the snow that has covered other parts of the UK, many are hoping for a calmer week this week.
But luckily there are higher temperatures and a calmer week ahead.
The Met Office says:
Today, Monday 29 November, will be a cloudy and dull day with occasional light rain and drizzle, the best of any drier spell through Fermanagh. Milder than lately and sometimes refreshing winds. Maximum temperature 10C.
Tonight it will be cloudy with clear spells of rain and drizzle. Much of this will be light and patchy with some drier periods. A mild and frost-free night. Windy. Minimum temperature 7C.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 30 November, it will be cloudy with occasional rain showers, heavy and persistent. In the evening drier and clearer with occasional showers. Windy. Maximum temperature 10C.
Beginning of December towards the end of the week it will be clear and windy with showers on Wednesday becoming wintery.
Mostly clear and fresh on Thursday, but later rain and sleet. Friday clear with showers.
More details are emerging about England’s new Covid Plan B rules to fight the Omicron variant of the virus – with banks, post offices, shops, public transport and hairdressers all having mandatory face coverings from Tuesday
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Edward Argar says masks in pubs are ‘not required by law’
Face masks will be required by law from tomorrow in UK hairdressers, banks and post offices, but not in pubs or restaurants.
Overnight, more details have emerged about the mask mandate to fight the Omicron Covid variant – with violators expected to be fined £200.
Under the previous fine rules, repeat offenders saw their fines double each time – up to a maximum of £6,400.
Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that face coverings will be mandatory again in shops and on public transport.
Last night, Downing Street confirmed that the list of locations – to be published in full later in the day – would also include hairdressers, banks and post offices. Exemptions include medical reasons and children.
But with Health Minister Sajid Javid making a statement to Parliament at 3:30 p.m. today, ministers had to defend the decision not to enforce face coverings in pubs or restaurants, even crowded cafes.
Mouth caps are mandatory in shops and in public transport (
NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Health Minister Edward Argar said people standing at the bar are often only there for a short time, then “on the way back to their table, where they sit down, have a drink.”
Mr Argar insisted: “It’s about striking a balance,” he added: “It’s the nature of the venue. In a pub you drink. You can’t do that when you’re wearing a mask.”
However, government guidelines advise people to wear masks in crowded indoor areas and do a lateral flow test before interacting with other people. Mr Argar said: “We don’t mandate it by law, but people will make their own judgment.”
Restrictions are being tightened this week after three cases of the Omicron variant were found in England and six in Scotland.
Mr Argar told Sky News: “I will be honest with you and your viewers, I would expect this to rise.
A woman has her hair styled at a hairdresser earlier this year (file photo) (
“We don’t know at what speed or at what numbers, so that’s why we’re trying to slow it down, but obviously we can’t stop it.”
But Argar also claimed he was “looking forward to a Christmas party with family and friends”.
Asked if the government might tighten the rules even further over the next three weeks, Mr Argar said: “It’s not something I’m looking forward to.”
Teachers and students in grades 7 and above are now “strongly advised” to wear masks in common areas outside classrooms in England.
Ten countries have been added to England’s red list, forcing all arrivals to be in hotel quarantine. They are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Starting at 4am tomorrow, all travelers to the UK will be required to take a paid PCR test on or before day two after their arrival and isolate until the result is negative.
Meanwhile, Covid booster shots appear to be expanding to all over 18s in the UK, now from over 40s. And the minimum six-month gap between the second and third dose could be narrowed.
Health Minister Edward Argar said he hadn’t seen any formal advice from the JCVI yet, but “hopefully it will come later today.” He added: “We expect that within the next few hours.”
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases will also need to self-isolate for 10 days whether or not they have been fully vaccinated.
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner pushed for action against £96.35 a week statutory sick pay, which has still not received a raise despite the end of the leave scheme.
She told BBC Breakfast: “If people need to self-isolate or get sick, they need to get sick pay, it’s one of the most crucial things we can do to make sure everyone can do the right thing and protect people from these new ones. variant.
“The booster shot should be given as soon as possible, we said five months, hopefully that happens now, and there should be ventilation in schools.
“People should wear masks, including the Prime Minister when he visits public areas indoors.”