Isla Vista’s very first hot pot spot is finally here. 212° Hotpot had been in the works since the beginning of Spring Quarter, making all the Asian food lovers, myself included, super eager while awaiting its soft opening. For those of you who don’t know what hot pot is, it’s basically a meal that consists of a simmering pot of soup with different meats and vegetables that is eaten with vermicelli noodles and rice.
A sneak peek of the menu revealed that the restaurant was going to feature 11 different options ranging from just a simple beef hot pot to a curry variety to even a large size of spicy Thai hot pot. First, you choose the type of hot pot you want from the menu options, then you choose a spiciness level ranging from none to flaming spicy and last but not least, you have the option between a bowl of rice or extra vermicelli noodles.
As for the price range, lunch and dinner are the same, with regular sizes at $13.99 and the larger sizes at $17.99, but a drink is included in their lunch meals. I went for dinner and chose my favorite hot pot flavor of all time: curry. It came with a curry soup base, vermicelli noodles, pork slices, corn on the cob, an egg, mushroom, string beans, lobster balls, cabbage and a variety of fish balls. I got the mild spicy because I thought the curry itself was already going to be spicy, and personally, I can’t really handle the heat. My friend and I waited 30 minutes to be seated, so I was pretty hangry by the time we got our food and I just wanted to devour everything.
The first thing I noticed was that the broth didn’t have the yellow curry color that curry soup usually has and it actually just tasted like regular meat soup broth. I could see a little curry powder on the vermicelli, but there was virtually no curry flavor and it definitely was not spicy at all. The toppings, however, were delicious. For $13.99, the amount of food you get is a bargain. They really don’t skimp on the meat and fill the pot up with cabbage, like some hot pot places do. I especially liked the fish and lobster balls and the pork was pretty good when I dipped it into the sauces that come on the table. My friend got the kimchi and dumpling soup with the spiciest level, but she didn’t think it was hot enough either.
Compared to other hot pot places I’ve tried, 212° Hotpot is pretty decent, especially for I.V. My only issue was the soup broth not having enough curry flavor, but that’s a pretty big problem considering that it was the curry soup hot pot. However, I’d definitely be open to going back and trying the other menu options like the Japanese Miso. But if there’s anything I learned from this experience it’s to come early because there’s almost certainly going to be at least a 15-minute wait.