When it comes to identifying the best communal meal, hot pot wins, hands down. Diners dunk raw meat and veggies in a shared pot that is filled with scalding broth. Many Asian countries have their own versions of the dish, each showcasing a unique combination of broths, ingredients, and sauces. Veteran food blogger Tony Chen, who writes about Asian food on his site sinosoul.com, dishes on his favorite hot pot places in Southern California.
This casual restaurant has several hot pot renditions similar to Chinese ones, but with a distinct spicy Thai twist. For the traditional hot pot where you cook raw meat in simmering broth, select the herbal Esaan variety, which is available with pork, beef, chicken, or seafood. 5171 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. 323-486-7380; lachasomtum.com.
Pusan Jobang Nakgopsae
South Korean–style hot pot is served at every table at this low-key Koreatown restaurant. The medium-size house pot of nakgopsae (baby octopus, pig intestine, and shrimp) is enough for three people and comes brimming with leeks and glass noodles in a customizable broth. 3516 W. Eighth Street, Suite A, Los Angeles. 213-384-5959.
This local outpost of a big and famous Szechuan restaurant empire in China serves some of the fiercest Chinese hot pots in L.A. Spicy, tongue-numbing broths paired with a variety of meats and offals bring in crowds every weekend. 18932 Gale Avenue, Rowland Heights. 626-581-8808.
This strip-mall restaurant specializes in marbled Wagyu beef preparations. While the purist might opt for the $100 (for two) Washugyu rib eye shabu shabu pot, the sukiyaki offers a more complex soup served with the same rich beef (same price). 2529 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance. 310-257-1800; hakatayamaya.com.