You have, of course, heard of the Mongolian hot pot, right? Served at places like Little Sheep, hot pot is the spicier/bolder/funkier cousin to Japanese shabu shabu, where you encounter not just the standard bearers of sliced beef, lamb, chicken and pork, but also the decidedly kinkier diversions of tripe, tendon, blood cake, goose intestines and pork kidneys. You cook all these things fondue-style, dipping them into a bifurcated pot that contains two kinds of soup: a spiced-up hot broth with herbs and a not-so-spiced-up broth with herbs.
But it's the middle of August. It's humid. Hot. Decidedly not hot pot weather. Enter the concept of the "dry pot" restaurant. Stop your snickering–save your marijuana jokes. A "dry pot" restaurant is basically a hot pot restaurant without the hot pot, but with all the meats cooked with the same spices and herbs. Also, since it's absent the soup, it's also without the cook-yourself-part that the soup would require.
Happy Dining–a new restaurant that took the space of a shuttered Tapioca Express on Barranca, next to Layer Cake Bakery–is a perhaps the first dry pot specialist in OC, offering a dozen different dry pots with proteins such as beef tripe, catfish, lamb, pork feet and crab. A small goes for $10 and can serve 1-2 people. The spice level is customizable and for every dry pot dish you order, you also get side dishes of different veggies, which are actually worked into the main dish itself, cooked in the kitchen, and served in a bowl heated by a Sterno-fueled flame.
More on this as it comes.
4250 Barranca Pkwy Suite G, Irvine, CA 92604