Harlem’s Newest Hot Pot Slam Dunk Any Chinese Restaurant In NYC

Eater reports that Broadway from 100th to 116th Streets in Upper Manhattan may be poised to become a hotbed of northern Chinese and Korean eats. It started with a series of carts parked by the Columbia University entrance gates, vending spicy noodles, pork-filled dumplings, bao sandwiches, and kimchee-laden stews to students and faculty who demanded modern East Asian fare, but couldn’t find it elsewhere in the area. Gradually, brick-and-mortar establishments have appeared in the blocks south of the campus, in a neighborhood sandwiched between the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights.

One example was Lava Kitchen at 101st and Broadway, a brightly lit spot specializing in dumplings, bing, garlicky vegetable appetizers, and noodle bowls with a range of hotness — and, believe me, the hottest was really, really hot. The latest newcomer is 108 Food Dried Hot Pot, a boxy corner storefront at 108th Street (at 2794 Broadway, 917.675-6878), that had been an Irish bar. It offers the city’s latest Chinese food fad: the dry hot pot, a craze renowned for its spiciness that began in Beijing and first appeared here in Flushing food courts.

Dry hot pot is different than regular hot pot in that a standard hot pot involves cooking at the table by swishing morsels of food in a bubbling broth. Dry hot pot uses many of the same raw materials, but they’re cooked in the kitchen as opposed to at the table. This hot pot is not a soup but a stir-fry and the finished product glistens with oil, not “dry” in the least. The communal enjoyment on the part of the diners and a similar roster of ingredients is what unites the two types of hot pot.

Here’s how it works at 108: You step up to a lavish display of raw ingredients deposited in metal tubs at the rear of the restaurant. An attendant with a sense of humor, her baseball cap turned askew, will assemble the ingredients you point to, putting the meat, poultry, and fish in one metal bowl ($10.99 per pound), and the vegetable matter in another ($9.99 per pound).

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