Hi Pot Korean Barbecue and Hot Pot Hands Guests Control Over Dinner Out
Hi Pot is a hands-on, interactive dining experience that dives into the international hot pot waters of Korean cuisine. It’s both entertaining and educational – unlike the normal dining night out, which I love. And it’s the first of its kind in the Myrtle Beach area.
Hi Pot Korean Barbecue and Hot Pot recently opened in the shell of a former Denny’s on Loyola Drive off 17 Bypass near Surfside Beach. Hardwood floors, intimate lighting from red teardrop pendant lamps above the booths, and Asian décor elements have replaced the diner-like Denny’s vibes. The large booths wrapping around the circumference of the dining area remain, and it’s where our friendly host/server seated hubby and me for dinner.
If you’ve never been to a Korean barbecue and hot pot concept restaurant, rely on your patient server for a tutorial. The tables are imbedded with a centerpiece electric grill lined with parchment paper if you choose to barbecue and induction burners at each place setting if you choose to go the hot pot route of cooking your ingredients in a soup base. Or, you can do both variations of cooking, which is what we decided to tackle.
Briefly, hot pot is an Asian cooking method prepared in a simmering pot of soup stock/base right at the table. You drop in any East Asian ingredient (We’ll dig into that in a bit) into the hot pot, and it cooks before your eyes – think fondue style, a la Melting Pot. Soup base options for you are: Spicy, Pork Bone, Original, Mushroom, Tomato, and Tom Yum. (He went with Spicy and I opted for the popular Pork Bone Soup).
It’s then that our server guides us to a clean, fresh, airy Asian market, of sorts, lined with bins located toward the back of the restaurant, where you grab plates and pile the seafood, meats, and more that you want to barbecue and hot pot. It can be both overwhelming and fun, so just take your time.
Ingredients vary by availability throughout the year, but typically can include sliced meats, such as sliced pork belly, sliced beef belly, prime brisket, and sliced pork or chicken. More meats and sides include shrimp or pork stuffed dumplings, eggs, crab meat, tempura, gyoza, lobster balls, fish balls, fish cakes, and more. Raw seafood samplings are jumbo shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, and crab legs to name a few. Veggies and such are tofu, spinach, peppers, a variety of mushrooms, broccoli, seaweed knots, bok coy, and lotus root. Noodles to sink into the hot pot include Ramen noodles, vermicelli, udon, and white rice.
Barbecue ingredients to grill at the table include most of the hot pot proteins and veggies, plus more marinated beef and steak, chicken, and pork options. The finishing touch is dipping your cooked or grilled food in any of Hi Pot’s sauces in a wide array of spice levels: peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, garlic soy sauce, yum yum sauce, sesame sauce, minced garlic, hoisin sauce, siracha, and you can mix a blend of them as you wish.
Don’t be intimidated to play the dual roles of diner and chef at Hi Pot. Hi Pot. (Lucky for me, I'm married to a chef.) Again, the servers are there to answer questions and pass along cooking tips – ours even concocted a secret house sauce recipe tableside for us. There are also signs at the table guiding you toward the proper cooking times and temperatures for meats and more.
If you have enough room for a sweet treat finale, there is also a dessert bar stocked with colorful puddings, jello, and light fruit dessert bars. Adult beverages offered on the drink menu for now are beer and wine selections.
Note a few rules they’d like you to follow at Hi Pot: You are supposed to stick to a two-hour maximum mealtime (but most patrons lingered longer on our visit), you may be charged by the pound if you leave behind too much uncooked food at the table (Waste not, want not!), and you cannot take home any leftovers.
Hi Pot Korean Barbecue and Hot Pot
124 Loyola Road, Myrtle Beach
Phone: (843) 650-9800
Hours: Monday through Sunday, noon-until