I have had hot pot twice before, in the US, with other friends who really don't know what they are doing. Sure we know you wait for the broth to boil, then you cook your food. But I really am not fond of hot pot because it requires too much coordination for someone who barely cooks. Here I have to cook, then eat and cook ... and I actually don't like my food to be that hot when I eat it. Even when I get pizza, half the time the guy behind the counter tells me that it isn't warm enough yet and I say it is okay because they usually warm it so much it burns my mouth.
So why? Why did I go for hot pot? Honestly I am not sure. It could be that I have been eating a variety of food, Thai, American, Italian, Indonesian, Singaporean, even vegetarian so I was feeling as though I should eat something more Cantonese. And the Cantonese do seem to love their soup.
Anyway, because I was alone they seated me at a bar facing a wall. Which was fine but I say this because I couldn't watch the other people for hints on what to do. The staff first had to explain how to order the ingredients. Even with his help I was confused when the food came, did I really order all that? The spices and sauce were lost on me since I couldn't identity what was what--several green options, yellowish option, red option--got that one--hot peppers!
But the fun part came with putting the food into and then taking it out of the pot. I was so uncoordinated that one staff person, bless her, kept coming up to help me especially after I dropped a glob of freshly cooked noodles. And she clearly felt I needed to use the sauce on some things because she did that for me too. I bet they had a good laugh when I left and I don't blame them, I found it comical and was laughing at myself throughout the experience. I think I actually did better the previous two times, I really was at my most uncoordinated last night.
In the process it was necessary to use an extra plate and an extra set of utensils, and I left a really big mess because I dropped soup and food several times. Luckily no one sat on either side of me, so no one else suffered because of me.
I did enjoy the food and the experience, despite feeling somewhat humbled by it. But I think there is plenty of other things in the Cantonese cuisine that I am better suited for.