Hou Yi is a hot pot specialist restaurant located in the northeastern Fujian section of Chinatown that borders the Lower East Side.
Hot pot is a pot of broth which you cook raw ingredients in and then dip in various sauces. Surprisingly I’ve had a hard time finding a decent hot pot place in the city and usually go to Flushing to Baidu to get my fix, which you can see here. It’s surprising because it must be one of the most universally popular dishes amongst all types of Chinese people.
The restaurant is a small place that quite ugly even for Chinatown with bright orange walls, dim yellow lighting and ugly wooden tables. The service was fine and relatively efficient. Both times I’ve been there has been a wait, so I’d either go early or late. The price is $23 for all you can eat hot pot including drinks, so it’s very well priced.
I’ll break down the hot pot by different aspects:
We got regular and spicy broth. Both were pretty standard, but good. The light broth is a standard mild flavored broth and the spicy one is a Sichuan style ma la broth. The spicy one is very spicy and spicier than the broth I’ve had at most Sichuan restaurants in NY, so if you can’t handle spicy food I’d avoid it. 7.75/10
We got the beef and lamb. While they were frozen they seemed reasonably fresh to me. I liked the beef better than the lamb. My GF thought the beef wasn’t good quality, but I thought it was fine. The lamb was alright, but was a bit gamey (my GF did not like it at all, but she doesn’t like lamb in general). 7.5/10 for the beef, 7.25/10 for the lamb
They have a variety of standard non-meat sides of vegetables, dumplings, fish balls etc. We got fried tofu skin, fried tofu cubes, corn, tofu, enoki mushrooms, daikon, cabbage, Hong Kong style fish balls, Fujian style fish balls and some other stuff which I’m forgetting. I thought all of it was good except I thought the Hong Kong style fish balls were too processed tasting and the fried tofu cubes were mediocre as well. 7.75/10
They don’t have a lot of options for sauces, I used the sesame and sha cha sauce. The sha cha sauce was not provided on the tables and I had to ask them for it. Sha cha sauce is a dried shrimp sauce, which you can read more about here. Both sauces were pretty standard tasting, but reasonably decent. The major shortcoming of this place for me was the lack of variety of sauces. I normally like to make my own with soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, sesame oil and cilantro. I felt like it was missing an element without that. 7.5/10
Overall, while it’s not amazing hot pot, it’s pretty decent and extremely reasonably priced. If you’re looking for your hot pot fix in the city without going to Flushing this is a decent place.
112 Eldridge St (between Broome St & Grand St)
New York, NY 10002