Editor’s Picks

Houston’s Best Hot Pot

Whether you’re in the mood for Chinese, Vietnamese, or Japanese, we’ve got your hot pot needs covered.

By Mai Pham January 4, 2015 Published in the January 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Hot Pot City

Image: Kate LeSueur

Fu Fu Café and Restaurant


Want fancy hot pot? Head to Fu Fu, where diners are encouraged to go for the gold and order the lobster, crab, and beef version that feeds at least four people for $79.99. If that’s not in your budget, don’t worry: the regular choices, which will set you back about $30, are also pretty stellar, including pre-set menus of seafood, shrimp, and beef, as well as a drunken chicken version that comes with an entire marinated bird. The place is great for large groups and families, as well as late-night dining. 

Giau Bar n Bites


Trendy, fun, and open late, this is part of a new generation of Vietnamese eateries that pair alcohol with small bites—a type of Vietnamese izakaya, if you will. In addition to exotic appetizers such as the steamed whelk with ginger fish sauce and grilled manila clams, there are two hot pot choices: oxtail and Thai, which can be ordered in individual and larger sizes. The oxtail version, served with egg noodles and a type of mustard green, is excellent, with a meaty, rich broth. Meanwhile, the Thai is a more traditional hot pot with seafood, veggies, and noodles.

Hot Pot City

Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese

Here, there are five broth bases to choose from: Mongolian, Japanese shabu, healthy Chinese, Vietnamese lau, and Thai suki, which is especially addictive. We suggest picking two, for each side of your hot pot, and getting one of the combos—meat, seafood, surf and turf, or tofu—which are enough for three or four people. From there, add to your meal with a plethora of à la carte choices.

Little Sheep Magnolian Hot Pot

Chinese, Japanese

This popular chain with locations in the US, Canada, China, and Japan offers all-you-can-eat hot pot, which is why there’s almost always a wait on cold days. Upon arrival, you fill out a sheet, selecting your broth (spicy or non-spicy), proteins (get the freshly shaved lamb and pork), vegetables, and noodles, and within minutes, it’s delivered. The tables all have built-in induction burners, too, guaranteed to heat up fast and keep your meal nice and bubbly.

One Hot Pot & Grill


There’s a bar in the center of this hole in the wall, the perfect place to pull up a chair and order hot pot for one—unlike at other spots around town, the dish is served in individual portions and priced accordingly. The specialty here is the lau cua ?ong, a tomato-and-crab-based soup broth, but you can’t go wrong with any of the choices, from standards like ta pín lù (chicken broth base with lots of ginger) to more unusual options such as lau dê thuoc bac (Vietnamese goat with Chinese herbs) and lau ?au cá (tamarind with salmon head). 

Sinh Sinh


This is the place for seafood hot pot. There are four varieties in all—including our favorite, the lobster combo. The broth, always a simple chicken stock with garlic and herbs, can be ordered spicy or non-spicy. Items from Dungeness crab to whole lobster can be ordered à la carte; we especially recommend adding shrimp, which are always mouthwateringly fresh.

Tan Tan


Open seven days a week until midnight, Tan Tan offers a vast menu of dishes, from the famous bánh bot chiên (fried rice flour cakes with egg), to Peking duck, to wonton lo mein, to a killer hot pot, which is why most of the two- and four-top tables have been customized with removable center panels that hold burners underneath. Choose between seafood, combination (seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetable), or shrimp and beef hot pot for two, with spicy or non-spicy broth. It will cure what ails you. 

Thuan Kieu Com Tam


The first thing you see when you step inside this traditional Vietnamese restaurant is a handwritten sign listing the seven types of lau, or hot pot, on offer. Priced between $21.95 and $24.95, these range from the exotic (lau dê, or goat, and lau vit nau chao, or duck with preserved bean curd), to the traditional (lau thái, Thai-style, and lau canh chua tôm, Vietnamese hot and sour shrimp). Each offers plenty to share among two or three people. 

Vibe Lounge


This watering hole for the young Asian population in Alief isn’t a traditional restaurant per se, but ask anyone who’s been there and they’ll tell you that the food is pretty darn good. In fact, before 9 p.m., the lounge operates just like your average family restaurant. The thing to get here is the Thai hot pot, arguably the best version in the city, and big enough for four. The broth—a tom yum goong that’s spicy, sweet, and sour all at once—is what makes it so good. 

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