Jump to content

Hot Spot, Pan-Asian Hot Pot in the old Temel Space - 3232 Old Pickett Road in Fairfax

Recommended Posts

Hot Spot

3232 Old Pickett Rd

Fairfax, VA22030

saw it on yelp. Looks like hot pot place. has anyone been?


No, but I see they're in the old Temel place - Temel was a restaurant you wanted to love, but just seemed to underachieve (though in all fairness, I hadn't been in many years).

Hot Spot claims to blend Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and their website is here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had an unexpected guest for dinner on Saturday night, so we decided to try out Hot Spot.

Called about 6:00 and made a reservation for 7:15 (actually, asked if we needed a reservation and was told "you won't need one, but you can make one anyway."). Almost every table was taken at 7:15, and the kitchen and staff were definitely overwhelmed. "The kitchen is backed up" was the common refrain of the waitstaff -- a little bit puzzling considering that almost every table was dining on hot pot and cooking it themselves. The decor was stylish, with an "accent wall" featuring an artsy rendition of all the ingredients on the menu and the new trend in restaurant design: handwashing sinks available outside the restrooms.

We had hot pot (all-you-can eat for $21.99), which servers describe as "buffet-style" but despite the fact that everyone here speaks English impeccably, that's not what they mean -- nothing is actually a buffet except the "sauce bar." Instead, ordering is A&J style -- the servers bring a paper menu which lists the four varieties of broth, four types of starches, and lengthier lists of vegetables, meats, seafood, and balls/dumplings to cook in the broth. The broth varieties are shabu shabu, "spicy," kimchi, and one other (the kimchi broth is fish-based; the others are chicken-based, and the "spicy" comes in regular and extra-spicy, so there are really five broth choices). Starches are three types of noodles (udon, rice, and glass) and white rice. Seafoods include several kinds of fish, jumbo shrimp, octopus, squid, clams, mussels and blue crab halves. Meats include several cuts of beef (the fatty brisket was our favorite), lamb (also excellent), pork, and chicken. The shrimp balls and pork-and-leek dumplings from the balls/dumplings section were wonderful, but I can't remember what else was down there. And there are about fifteen vegetable choices, including a number of cabbages, several kinds of mushrooms, sliced lotus root, and all the usual suspects.

There is a "rest of the menu," featuring a dozen or so dishes. They are a mix of Asian styles, including a Korean pancake, a couple of tempura dishes, budaejigae, . The menu also has an assortment of drinks, including "butter beer" in both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version ($5 and $9), a short list of beers (including Miller Lite, $4; Hite, $4, and the 22 oz. size of at least one Japanese beer, $10); a longer list of wines, soft drinks with unlimited refills ($2), and several sojutinis ($12-$15). Prices on drinks and some of the apps are reduced during weekday happy hours by 30%-40%.

Overall, we thought this was good, but not quite as memorable as Uncle Liu's. The "extra spicy" broth had the delightfully numbing peppercorns, but the kimchi broth was more disappointing. Some of the portions were ample -- lamb and dumplings in particular. But others were puzzlingly meager. Why offer only half a cup of noodles as an order for three? 1 piece of octopus in an order, but 6 jumbo shrimp? So it was hard to tell how much to order. The quality varied as well -- the shrimp balls and scallops, along with the dumplings and red meats, were outstanding. The shrimp, good. The mussels and crabs? Mediocre and frozen. Still, the overall combination was very satisfying. With big appetites and a desire to mix a lot of different ingredients, Hot Spot would be the place to go.

As long as they can work out the service, that is. Some of this is probably growing pains on a crowded Saturday night, and some may have owed to our under-trained server, who consistently seemed to "zone in" on one of his tables at the expense of the others -- this was nice when he was locked on us, but made it hard to flag him down at other times. He also refilled our kimchi broth with the chicken stock, not the fish base, and insisted it was correct until the next time we needed a refill. (We had a hard time getting his attention frequently enough to keep the pot filled). As I mentioned, the waitstaff spent all night asking us to fill out our request sheets for the next round as soon as we received the previous round to account for the backup in the kitchen. And the sauce buffet often looked like a scene from the Rockaways -- ingredients emptied, drippings everywhere, including into the other ingredient pots, vacant trays for sauce dishes. In truth, the sauce buffet is not really well-conceived -- there's no way to taste the sauces as you're mixing them, and the flock of possibilities (as well as the handwritten "suggestions" posted on a bulletin board above) leads many people to mix far too many ingredients into a glop rather than create a simpler, tastier combination.

We'll be watching to see how this place develops, and will likely try visiting on a weeknight when it will hopefully be less chaotic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just went and i twas a quiet night so the service issues were not bad.  While I like the broths at Uncle Liu's better, the fact that two people can go and have such a wide variety of ingredients is really nice.  THe overall impression of the hot pot was a cleanliness of foavor.

Great choices:

Shrimp Ball


Brisket {says fatty but it wasn't}

Puffy Tofu

Octopus but you need to cook it a while to get it past the chewy stage

Fabulous beer list for a non beer oriented place.  We enjoyed Racer 5 and Bell's Two Hearted.


Pass on...

The scallop

All in all, a nice time.  Less money than Uncle Lius, meats better quality, slightly less adventurous selection of items, a well selected beer list.  So I would go here for Hot Pot.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Off our list.

The service from host and manager staff has been unspeakably rude three times.

One time we were sat at a small table and asked for a large pot instead of the small ones and were basically lectured 3 or 4 times that if we wanted to have the large pot we had to sit at a large table.  Weoffered that  would have gladly waited, but they continued to lecture us before giving us the large pot.  And then saying, we are only doing this tonight.  We won't do it again.  Since they had 4 large  tables paying their check, I am not sure of their response... we could have been at a large table in 5 minutes and I'm sure I could have pounded an extra beer in that time.

Then another night we called and were told the same thing about hours.... kitchen closes at 11:30 and we had to be there before.  We arrived at 11:20 and simply were refused service.  And we drove 25 minutes to get there.  When we complained, there was no attempt to resolve it, they simple told us to leave.  At 11:25 pm.  We stepped out and I was so upset that I wanted to complain to a manager.  She was ruder than the very rude hosts.  Our food isn't traditional Chinese food and we want you to have time to enjoy it.  Well we have been before and told her and didn't mind being rushed.  But she just continues to lecture... we left twice.

One other time they did nto want to seat us at a table and said eat at the bar.  The restaurant was half full and it was not near closing time.  We had to ask several times before being shown to a table.

Three strikes and they are out.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...