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Riverside Hot Pot, A Chinese Szechuan Hot-Pot Chain Arrives in America - Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg


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Riverside Hot Pot opened last week in the old Chop Stix space. Address is 820 Muddy Branch Rd Gaithersburg, MD 20878.

Website is: http://riversidehotpot.com/. Evidently it's a chain from China. I think this is the first (?) US location. You pick a stock from about 6 choices, they bring you a individual sized pot with burner. Add ins are all you can eat (think after the grand opening special of $21, it will be $25/pp). There is also a really nice sauce bar. There is a "traditional" Chinese menu as well, but we didn't opt for that. I got the Szechuan broth (which was good but I was hoping for a bit spicier), my wife got the vegetarian "health" pot (it had some various radish type things and goji berries for some additional flavor). If you are a vegetarian, be sure to tell them, because they top the pots of with a house broth which isn't vegetarian (they brought a teapot of the veggie stock for my wife). The list of add-ins is extensive. We got an assortment of veg (spinach, bok choy, napa, other greens, lotus root, mushrooms (shitake and enoki), bamboo shoots, frozen bean curd (has a nice spongy texture), shrimp, scallops, clams, squid, octopus (wife eats fish). I also got a spicy beef and another beef with enoki. Last item was a clear noodle. Everything was really good. The kitchen didn't give us everything each time we asked but the servers were good at finishing up the requests when something was missing. My only negative is that when they re-fill the broth, it would be nice if they did so with the broth that you ordered. My Szechuan ended up pretty watered down. Would definetly go back a second time (perhaps as soon as tomorrow!) Cheers!

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From the website:

"Join us

Riverside Hot Pot Cuisine has more than fifteen years of culinary experience in the trendy and ever-changing hot pot scene. In China, we have more than 22 franchise stores, clear business tactics, goals, and market positioning. In the United States, our market differentiation and analysis team have a clear understanding of the culinary scene as well as its supporting branches. We have a distinct, successful record of investment and franchising. Our company is experienced in determining franchising location and capable personnel, cost analysis, and return on investment (ROI) that well jump start your investment. Along with investment assistance, we will also provide financing, management, training, recipe delivery, and advertisement support. Low investment amount, high return, we will pave the path to riches for you! Work with us, and take reign of the investment opportunity! "

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From the website:

"Join us

Riverside Hot Pot Cuisine has more than fifteen years of culinary experience in the trendy and ever-changing hot pot scene. In China, we have more than 22 franchise stores, clear business tactics, goals, and market positioning. In the United States, our market differentiation and analysis team have a clear understanding of the culinary scene as well as its supporting branches. We have a distinct, successful record of investment and franchising. Our company is experienced in determining franchising location and capable personnel, cost analysis, and return on investment (ROI) that well jump start your investment. Along with investment assistance, we will also provide financing, management, training, recipe delivery, and advertisement support. Low investment amount, high return, we will pave the path to riches for you! Work with us, and take reign of the investment opportunity! "

Knowing nothing about this operation, but something about the demographics, they could be something of a success if they play their cards right.

My worry is the $25 per-person price which seems high to me (do some of the add-ins contain meat, and if so, are they refillable as well? If so, then that's more palatable.)

People will be drinking Tsing Taos, and their checks could easily reach $100 for two people all-in: that could have a negative psychological effect on the patronage, but I'd need to see this place in action before drawing any judgment.

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Knowing nothing about this operation, but something about the demographics, they could be something of a success if they play their cards right.

My worry is the $25 per-person price which seems high to me (do some of the add-ins contain meat, and if so, are they refillable as well? If so, then that's more palatable.)

People will be drinking Tsing Taos, and their checks could easily reach $100 for two people all-in: that could have a negative psychological effect on the patronage, but I'd need to see this place in action before drawing any judgment.

Add ins do contain meat and seafood and are refillable.  I thought the value was actually pretty good.  I plan on going again (soon) and will take a picture of the selction list.  The portions were very generous.

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Went back here again last night for some carryout from their "traditional" menu.  They don't have one printed yet, so you can't really order from home.  Also, the menu they have is in need of work (I think they have lost something in the translation and some things are misscategorized).  The food was decent.  We got three entres--MaPo Tofu, Mixed Seafood, and three cups eggplant.  The MaPo was not as good as at China Jade or Joes.  It was spicy with silken tofu, and some shredded chicken (I have never had it this way before).  There wasn't much numbing to be found.  Three cups eggplant was a let down, too sweet, not enough ginger (actually no visible giner to be found), and would have liked more basil.  The Mixed Seafood may have been the winner--shrimp, squid, scallops, fish fillet (I think it was flounder) and an assortment of vegetables--brocoli, baby corn, napa, water chestnuts, and carrots, it had a mild white sauce to go along, which didn't get in the way of the fresh seafood.  I think I would go back for the "traditional" menu, probably only because it is next door to my house, but if I am passing Joe's on the way home or if I have cash, Bob's those are still my first choices.

On another note, they now have lunch special hotpots at $10 ea.

On another note, also had hotpot again, this time with a larger group.  It started off really bad (they are definetly working the kinks out), the vegetarian healthy hot pots came out spciy when they were supposed to be mild (as described).  They replaced the pots for the 4 who ordered this base with "just plain vegetable stock" but my vegetarian wife quickly said it was chicken broth.  They were very nice from a customer service standpoint and didn't charge us for her pot.  Everyone else was very happy once the pots were changed (which was a relief because they are a picky group!).

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Just tried this place last night and it is now our favorite Hot Pot location. Starting october 1, the hot pots will be $16.99 after 9pm which is great for us.

The spicy broth was not that spicy, but it had good flavor. The seafood broth was just ok, not very strong. The individual pots are a pain: if you add a few different items it will cook down ot the point where you have to wait for the broth to return to cooking temperature. Some hot pot ingredients need a goodly cooking time; shrimp balls, tofu, starchy veggies and the hua, so this is a pain. Beer list sucks, but $4 Tsing Tao in MOCO isn't a bad price. 2 hot pots and three beers was under $60.

The ingredients were very high quality and abundantly served. I would go in a group of 4 or 6 so you can try more things and not get stuffed like we did.

Prime rib, lamb and brisket were all super, the brisket more so than any of the other hot pot restaurants we ahve been to {in fact, better than at any Korean BBQ} The lamb was lean and "lamby" They had spicy beef that I wanted to try, but ordering any more than we did would have been dangerous. Tripe was fabulous, perfectly cooked trip ready to absorb the flavors of the broth. I start with the meats to get the broth flavored up and then go to the rest of the items at random. I saved the tripe for towards the end so the broth is complex.

Clams came pre steamed and very good. Octopus seemed to be squid, we ordered twice and got it twice. I wonder if ordering squid would get you octopus or cuttle fish?

Hua were one of the highlights. Small ramekins full of gorund protein with veggies and cornstarch to hold it all together. Basically a steamed dumpling or meatball recipe. You pinch off a bit and drop it in the broth and when it bobs to the top of the liquid, its perfect. We had shrimp with corn and the beef and corriander.. Both fabulous but the corn was forgettable frozen kernals. There were also chicken and another hua, but again, a strong sense of self preservation stopped us from ordering more than 2. If we ahd four people there then we could have tried all 4.

Veggies were crysanthimum leave {called crown daisy}, bok choi, black fungus and enoki muchrooms. I love enoki in hot pot or any soup, and not at all otherwise. Again,m being so bland, I wait tilt he end for the enoki. The bok choi was particularly good: baby heads the size of a half dollar.

Tofu etc choices we tried were fish tofu {a fish cake type of thing}, frozen tofu {one of the only dissapointments}, udon noodles and dried tofu skin. The last was incredible. Usually we get dried tofu skin in stick form. Here it was sheets that had a noodle like consistency and were a great vehicle for the flavor of both the broth and the sipping sauce.

The condiment bar was a little sparse compared to Uncle Lius and MaLa Tang but affered more robust flavor in its limited range. There was a dish of green peppers that looked like Thai sport peppers but were MUCH hotter. These were the hottest fresh peppers I have ever tried and I finished my tablespoon sized serving only thru will power and three beers. And a strong sense of masochism.. I made a great sauce with shacha, pepperflakes in oil, ginger, scallion and corriander and garlic in Tablespoon quantities doused with black vinegar and a splash o soy, and another of 1/3 garlic, pepper flakes in oil and TJ sauce which was some sort of green puree similar to the green scallion & ginger sauce you get with steamed chicken at the Chinese style BBQ counter.

The service was very pleasant and enthusiastic rather than super efficient. Being somewhere where the staff wanted you to ahve a good time was the bonus. I have given up on Hot Spot Hot Pot in VA as well as Uncle Lius because of the rudness of the staff on multiple occasions. Here we were taken care of by three different people who were super friendly. And when they were about to close the sauce abr and kitchen, we got an 8 minute last call warning and a ffinal chance to order before things got broken down.

All in all, A super time. The only other hot pot we would consider these days is Hunan Taste in Catonsville. My ranking:

Riverside Hot Pot Cuisine
Hunan Taste only two dips prepared in the kitchen, no booze but BYOB, all you can eat for $25...huge selection high quality.

then a long ways down
Mala Tang but ouch: the price here was hurtfull for much less food than we had at Riverside. the small plates here are great and what I would order in the future,

Hot Spot Hot Pot in Fairfax: Rudeness is the norm, go if you like getting yelled at by the staff and talked down to. Too bad because they have a great beer list for a Hot Pot restaurant. Creative sauce bar.

Uncle Lius best sauce bar but the last few visits the quality of the ingredinets was off.

Note for people who skim: Dean mentioned that Hunan Taste does not have alcohol, but there is BYOB! :)

(Is there a corkage fee?)

No. And the hot pot at Hunan Taste is only Sunday thru Thursday. There is a large liquor store across the street but it is not open on Sundays.

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You have to try the spicy beef next time you go.  It is great.  The waiter we had the last time said that the kitchen staff is very proud of it.  it is a beef of unknown provenance, spiked with hot peppers and some fermented black beans for extra flavor.  It added a nice depth to the spicy pot.

Also, Dean, although you said that you like to eat the meat first to add flavor to the stock, the waiter told us to go heavy on vegetables at first because it "opens up the stomach" and then to hit the meats, don't know if this really makes any sense, but he seemed to be very confident in his proclamation.  I think Dean is on the right track though, the broth definitely picks up flavor from the meats.

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Decided to give this a try after deangold's recommendation. The place was pretty good overall and the spicy beef was in fact excellent. This is definitely my #1 choice for hotpot now as well if, for no other reason, it's very close by and no worse quality food than any of the others I've been to. The cheaper non-seafood option is great to have as well since my wife does not eat any seafood at all. The drink list is pretty terrible but what can you do.

I am, however, somewhat baffled at his mention of quality of service. I've been to Hot Spot several times and always had very good service, very prompt and friendly. Might help that we always sit at the bar and order lots of drinks, I dunno.

When we went here, the service was frankly pretty bad. We had to hunt down our waiter every time we wanted something. We consistently got the wrong food brought to us, several times they brought things we didn't order and every single time they failed to bring us something we did. The server was not rude or anything however, just extremely inattentive. I'm not sure who is ultimately responsible for making sure the right food is brought out, but they were clearly not even remotely paying attention to their job that night.

Anyway, like I said I still really like this place despite the flakey service so I'll be back soon enough.

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I need to give this place a shout out.  Since we often eat after a long night at the restaurant, we are often dining very late.  We Googled Riverside and their closing hour was listed as midnight.  We called and asked and were told that the kitchen closed at 11:30 so if we got there a little before we would be able to eat.  They also said we would need to be out at midnight.

We arrived at 11:20 to see a closed sign and chairs up on the table.  We went in to protesta nd the host/waiter said if we could order quickly and be done at midnight we were welcome to stay.  So we did.   At midnight there was the clinking of the dishwasher still working away, so we wrapped things up and were ready to leave the second the dishwashers were coming on the floor to mop up.  Never felt rushed at all.

And again the food was superb and the only issue I had was the small pots made it hard to maintain a boil.  The fish balls are not as god as the shrimp balls, and they were frozen solid and there just wasn't enough heat to get them cooked properly.  The sauce bar had been broken down and our waiter brought out bowl after bowl of condiments and we mixed up or combinations at the table.  Their standard beef sauce is a perfect blend in.  They brought out more condiments alter and even gave us a last chance to get foo {we ordered the lamb and it was quite good, I enjoyed it better than the spicy beef}  Tripe, bean curd skin, daikon, bacon and the shrimp and beef huas were all standouts.

The rest of the service was as comical as on our second visit.  Getting the flames for our hot pots took 3 or 4 requests, they forgot our beverage order, a request for waters brought only one water.  But the difference here is that they did want to make it right and were super nice.

Again, a huge thanks for following thru on their word when it would all too easy not to.  Definitly our choice when we need hot broth to soothe us after a long day or week.

As to Hot Spot, the service we had there was glaringly bad.  I just can't step foot in there again, it was that bad. 

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I have taken to going for lunch on my day off Monday.  There is an unreal special for $12.99.... 15 items.  You can't have the hou or some of meats... but there is more than enough to choose from and while I always start out thinking that 15 is too few but when I start feeling full and realize I have only used 9 of the items.....

And the entire buffet is $16.99 after 9pm

If you don't take advantage of either of these, I've seen people actually buy the Groupon on the smart phones to use that meal.

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Hadn't been here for a while and thought I would hit it up for guy's night out on Friday.  Since my last visit, they have added a "double hot" and "triple hot" broth.  The triple is served with newly installed in-table burner and there are compartments.  I asked when they would add a quadruple hot, but they assured me that one is not in the works.  The server warned us that it is made with some sort of ghost pepper from from Sichuan.  Typically a warning like this does not scare me away, but something about the way she warned me had me scared (that and he said that it was too spicy for him).  All three of us opted for the double hot.  The broth was no joke.  Very spicy, almost to the point of being too spicy, but still at a "tolerable level".  It was very flavorful.  Also, the quality of the dippers are still up there.  It was a very enjoyable meal.

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1 hour ago, DanielK said:

The quality is still there. We go every few months. Though I have been told that Urban Hot Pot on Rockville Pike might even be better.

I need to check out Urban then.  Thank you!

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