If shabu shabu is smooth jazz, then Mongolian hot pot is acid rock. That's not water in those pots; it's an honest-to-goodness broth that could serve as its own form of sustenance. And oh, the smells! You don't walk into such a restaurant as much as sail in, as though you're swimming through a delicious sea of odors. Your boiling pot—hell, every pot in the restaurant (there's one per diner)—gurgles and simmers with Chinese spice pods, herbs and chili oil. Into this veritable potpourri you dip raw meats such as lamb sliced as thin as razor blades, immaculate little balls made of shrimp, and the special “frozen sponge tofu,” which does exactly what it advertises, absorbing the spicy liquid so it bursts in your mouth and sears itself into your memory.