LTH Home

Sizzling Pot King - Dry Hot Pot and Hunan Cuisine

Sizzling Pot King - Dry Hot Pot and Hunan Cuisine
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Sizzling Pot King - Dry Hot Pot and Hunan Cuisine

    Post #1 - July 24th, 2018, 12:03 pm
    Post #1 - July 24th, 2018, 12:03 pm Post #1 - July 24th, 2018, 12:03 pm
    While it was mentioned in the openings thread, I didn't see a separate thread for Sizzling Pot King, a newish Chinese spot in the West Loop, about a block from the new H Mart. I made it there as a solo diner for lunch on Saturday and have been enjoying leftovers since, so I though a post was in order.

    SPK is clearly focused on dry hot pot, which represents more than half of the menu. I believe all of the 4-5 other tables (all speaking Chinese) ordered this way, but I really wanted Hunan food, as it is something I've missed since moving to Chicago. Being alone was a serious disadvantage as I really wanted to try the whole menu, but I limited myself two of the many interesting dishes.

    Wuhan noodles were good, if not earth shattering. They were served warm with a sesame sauce that wouldn't be out of place in a good Chinese-American spot. What set is apart were pickled vegetables - crunchy carrots and diced green or long beans, mainly.

    Nothing against the noodles, but it was the steamed pork belly with preserved vegetables that stole the show and prompted a post. This dish is pure Hunan heaven. A large portion of soy-lacquered pork belly slices were fanned across a mound of preserved vegetables - dried mustard greens, I'm pretty sure. The pork was tender (although it could have steamed a bit longer - I don't think they expected me to order it and were concerned about a wait, so they may have rushed it just a bit) and the vegetable, studded with chili and ginger, soaked up some of the pork fat. It is salty, sour and a little hot, with a great variety of texture in the vegetables, from silky leaves to firm, almost crunchy stems. It was great and even better reheated the last couple of days for lunch.

    Given the location and relatively sparse crowd, as well as comments in some of the recent reviews, I think this is the kind of place that is going to need LTH support to supplement the Chinese expat community to make a go of it. It's delicious and convenient to H Mart, so I plan to go back soon. I recommend you try it as well.

    Sizzling Pot King
    769 W Jackson Blvd
    (312) 291-9053
    http://sizzling-pot-king.business.site/
  • Post #2 - July 24th, 2018, 12:41 pm
    Post #2 - July 24th, 2018, 12:41 pm Post #2 - July 24th, 2018, 12:41 pm
    Thanks for starting the thread. It's been on my get-to list since Sula's review in the Reader.

    https://m.chicagoreader.com/chicago/sizzling-pot-king-hunanese-dry-hot-pot-greektown/Content?oid=52247197
  • Post #3 - July 24th, 2018, 2:46 pm
    Post #3 - July 24th, 2018, 2:46 pm Post #3 - July 24th, 2018, 2:46 pm
    I was there about a month ago and really enjoyed our meal . . .

    Image
    Wuhan Hot Dry Noodle
    These were just fine. Served at room temperature, they kind of reminded me of a sesame noodle salad that one might find at a pot luck -- homey and comforting.

    Image
    Large Combo Hot Pot with Beef Tongue and Bullfrog
    (Spice Level: Very Spicy, Spice Type: Mala)
    I loved this dish and I've been thinking about it a lot since our dinner, especially since I've never really had anything quite like it. Massive and packed with an array of intensely flavored items, it was the clear winning dish at our dinner. We opted for tongue and bullfrog (and were told after we ordered that it was their most popular combination). We also added on black fungus. Broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, bean sprots and celery were also included. We chose very spicy, which is the 4th hottest level of spice (out of 5) and Mala, which is described on the menu as "numb and spicy." I'd love to have at this one again but maybe swap out the difficult-to-eat frog (so many little bones) for short ribs or lamb ribs next time around.

    Image
    Chef Magic Tofu
    More than meets the eye. The tofu almost ate like a nicely cooked omelet, with a lightly crispy exterior and creamy interior. The sauce was tangy and flavorful but neither spicy nor overly sweet. A great dish.

    Image
    Sauteed Sliced Pork with Chili Pepper
    Intense flavors and delicious all the way around.

    Image
    Braised Fish Fillet In Spicy Bean Sauce
    Tender, velveted fish (guessing tilapia) in a mildly spicy sauce.

    I really don't know this cuisine very well at all but I greatly enjoyed the meal, especially the hot pot, the pork and the tofu. I look forward to a return visit, perhaps with a group large enough to sample a lot more of the menu.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #4 - July 26th, 2018, 12:29 pm
    Post #4 - July 26th, 2018, 12:29 pm Post #4 - July 26th, 2018, 12:29 pm
    We dined here a few weeks ago after Sula's review. They didn't have frog (so sad), so we got the mala hot pot with beef tongue and added chinese sausage, lotus root and vermicelli. It was incredibly delicious, though I think they could have cut the lotus root thinner and tamed the sichuan peppercorns a bit.

    We also tried the dry noodles, which is an apt name. They required a lot of doctoring with some vinegar and the restaurant's homemade chili paste before satisfying.

    I look forward to hearing about the other pot flavors and want to go back and try some entree like the magic tofu. I think next time we go garlic frog.
  • Post #5 - July 31st, 2018, 1:45 pm
    Post #5 - July 31st, 2018, 1:45 pm Post #5 - July 31st, 2018, 1:45 pm
    My wife and I ate there this past weekend. After Mike Sula's review I was quite ready to enjoy dry pot Hunan cuisine.... We were warmly greeted, and seated in a fairly full restaurant. However we noticed that it was not as clean as we would like....sticky floor, used dishes in tubs scattered in several places, water was served with a lemon slice, but tasted odd....but on to the food: We ordered Wuhan Noodles, as a previous post suggested, it was good, but not better than other restaurants, though some unusual crunchy vegetables (mostly green bean) enlivened it from being totally ordinary. A cucumber side was quite good with flecks of red chili, and served as a mouth refresher for the Spicy Shrimp Dry Pot. About that dry pot....it was quite over-salted, the shrimp were on the smaller side and served head and shell on, not a problem, just messy when covered with sauce. The sauce itself was nothing special, almost veering towards typical brown sauce, but being saved by the peppers, both red and jalapeno. On the whole not the most satisfying meal, and not as wonderful as we had hoped for.
  • Post #6 - July 31st, 2018, 10:15 pm
    Post #6 - July 31st, 2018, 10:15 pm Post #6 - July 31st, 2018, 10:15 pm
    I went last week and had a wonderful experience. Got the vegetarian ma la hot pot which tingled delightfully; one of the most wonderfully ma la foods I've ever had. My companion, though culinarily adventurous, had not experienced ma la before and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly. (We went to A Place by Damao a few days later.) Will certainly be back, perhaps to try a non-vegetarian version.
    The best food is well-spiced and well-fattened.
  • Post #7 - November 3rd, 2018, 3:07 pm
    Post #7 - November 3rd, 2018, 3:07 pm Post #7 - November 3rd, 2018, 3:07 pm
    Had another fantastic meal at SPK; lunch here earlier today . . .

    Image
    Griddle Cooked Beef Tongue and Short Rib Combination
    aka Dry Hot Pot

    We opted for Spicy/Hot flavor, medium-level spicy (3 on a 1-4) and while it wasn't quite as ma la as the last couple of times, it was still very spicy, with great flavor. Not too numbing, though. Everything in the pot was so effing delicious, I couldn't stop eating it. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Celery and Soy Bean Sprout are included by default, though broccoli is not listed as such on the menu.

    I was under the mistaken impression that they were only open for lunch on weekends but they are (now?) open for lunch every day of the week, which is very nice.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #8 - April 20th, 2021, 6:56 pm
    Post #8 - April 20th, 2021, 6:56 pm Post #8 - April 20th, 2021, 6:56 pm
    Per this post on the O&C thread, Sizzling Pot King (at least at this location) has closed. :(

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #9 - April 21st, 2021, 7:05 am
    Post #9 - April 21st, 2021, 7:05 am Post #9 - April 21st, 2021, 7:05 am
    Location of the Doomed. Jackson has been ripped up and blocked off since last summer; the restaurant was even were pitching itself for a time--if a banner in front of the store is to be believed--as a Chinese-American takeout place. I'm sort of impressed they made it this long, considering.

    I do wonder if opening in Chinatown, where they would have been among the first dry pot specialists, would have led to a different outcome than opening off the main drag in Greektown, in a spot with minimal parking.
  • Post #10 - April 21st, 2021, 9:25 am
    Post #10 - April 21st, 2021, 9:25 am Post #10 - April 21st, 2021, 9:25 am
    chezbrad wrote:Location of the Doomed. Jackson has been ripped up and blocked off since last summer; the restaurant was even were pitching itself for a time--if a banner in front of the store is to be believed--as a Chinese-American takeout place. I'm sort of impressed they made it this long, considering.

    I do wonder if opening in Chinatown, where they would have been among the first dry pot specialists, would have led to a different outcome than opening off the main drag in Greektown, in a spot with minimal parking.


    I think that's potentially a semi shortsighted way of looking at it - just my own opinion. The US Census estimates that the area between Halsted, Madison, Van Buren, and the river has nearly 675 residents living in it born in China, with the area of The Loop out to State St with another 565, and the area of West Loop bounded by Halsted, Ashland, Madison, and Van Buren with another 350. A few hundred more north of these areas, and not counting what's in Streeterville, River North, South Loop, etc. And while there may obviously be people from China who don't like this cuisine or aren't even familiar with it, that's basically 2000 people from China living in West Loop area or west area of the Loop. This isn't counting people from any other country who would try it.

    Is that enough? Who knows - did the pandemic basically screw them over? Wouldn't doubt it.

    If I've learned anything from my wife though, it's that if you live in an area where there's no legit Chinese food then they'll support you at least in the beginning. At least here in NYC, our immediate area had no Chinese food and the only thing within a probably 2 mile radius were a few bubble tea shops. We usually order delivery all the way from Flushing. One opened up a 5 minute walk away summer of 2019 and my wife and I were legitimately eating there 2-3 times a week for a solid 1-2 months. It was pretty busy for a few months with a lot of Chinese residents in the area supporting the new business, plus others.

    Here's the catch though - it was the only Chinese food in our area until very recently. We got sick of it and just started ordering from Flushing again. I would bet that a few more Chinese options in the general area could actually help something like that be less doomed. It will get support from a Chinese community if it's good enough tasting, but people will also get sick of it after awhile.

    When I was working with someone else for an article about the Chinese population in Chicago, I asked why there's not more Chinese restaurants in say West Loop, McKinley Park, or Brighton Park where there's many Chinese people. He said it's because they want Chinatown to still be the epicenter. The only other semblance of something similar is in Bridgeport on streets like Halsted. Actually Bridgeport has more Chinese people now than Chinatown, but still doesn't have a MASSIVE amount of the restaurants. It makes sense but at the same time, there could be more benefit from having a few more clusters where there's a large enough population.
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #11 - April 21st, 2021, 12:58 pm
    Post #11 - April 21st, 2021, 12:58 pm Post #11 - April 21st, 2021, 12:58 pm
    I don't think our perspectives are in conflict, Marothisu; in fact, we're saying basically the same thing. To be clear: I wasn't suggesting it was a numbers game in terms of neighborhood population so much as foot traffic--i.e., could you draw in diners in that location vs. one on Wentworth. They had very little visibility from either Halsted or Jackson, and I doubt they were getting the crowd who frequented the gyro/philly place next door; H Mart may have been a block away, but you had to cross a highway to get to and fro. When you add to that the restaurant's interior was clunky and uninviting and the food required some educating of the consumer, it just never felt like the optimal location for the restaurant, much as I enjoyed having it nearby.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more