In our visit a couple of weeks back to Nam Phuong, Mini Hot Pots is one of the places that I viewed the pictures of on Yelp and decided against for that day. For what it’s worth, it had been on my list since 2006, and we almost ate there the day we went to Penang (just across the parking lot).
We were heading to Duluth for a bridal shower, and encouraged by the recent trip to Splendid Shabu, we decided that shabu (hot pot) would fit the lunch bill. We arrived just ahead of the lunch rush and were able to grab a table for the three of us. One thing to note here is the extremely limited seating – there are three four-tops, an eight-top and bar seating for ten. On a subsequent visit, we sat at the bar. While this is perfectly fine for a party of two , it would be less enjoyable with a larger party.
The menu is complicated, but has plenty of pictures. We ordered a chicken platter, a combo (chicken and beef) platter and a (large) chicken + ramen. We’ve since discovered that we can “share” a platter between us, and the other order meat and noodles as wedon’t eat the same items off the platter. As opposed to Splendid Shabu, where the electric burner is inlaid into the table, here there is an electric hot plate under a hole in the tabletop and they bring your broth to the table in the cooking pot.
There are multiple broth choices, which, after listening to the server talking to others, cater to specific tastes – after asking the couple next to us if they were Vietnamese, she suggested that the miso broth would be more like a traditional Vietnamese hot pot. Any of the broths can be made as spicy or mild as you like. We all three selected chicken broth, mine moderately spicy. The platter arrived as the pots began to boil:
corn, an egg, tomato, potato, a chicken hot dog (those are “my items”) and radish, a couple of mushroom types, bok choy, watercress, seaweed, taro root and three kinds of tofu (“her items”). It’s really hard eating a platter full, plus a meat. Here’s the table top.
If we had have had a fourth, we likely would have run out of room. The giant platter of chicken (center top) is what comes with the platter. This picture is from about half way through the meal. There was also a sauce bar in the corner where you can mix your dipping sauces, although “recipes” would have been a bonus. The staff here is extremely helpful – this would be a great restaurant for a “first” visit.