Why I Love Mongolian Hot Pot design

I love eating hot pot. And during my last meal (above), I was thinking about how well the hot pot vessel is designed. I’m guessing it probably hasn’t changed in 100s, maybe 1000s of years, and for good reason.

Compared to the Sichuan-style hotpot which is a big cauldron, sometimes split into sections for various flavors, the Mongolian style hot pot has a distinctive chimney in the middle. Some of the reasons I love this design:

  • Social: As the circular centerpiece of the table, everyone gathers around the pot, plopping and picking out food in between conversation.
  • Efficiency: Copper is the standard metal of hot pots and works well to conduct heat quickly and easily throughout the surface, which helps to cook the food evenly.
  • Warmth: With a raging fire underneath, nothing warms up the room like a hot pot. This must have been particularly useful during Mongolian winters.
  • Consumption Speed / Portion Control: With a narrow moat of boiling water to put raw food in, you end up only putting in a certain amount of food in at any one time, which both slows down the whole meal and limits portions.
  • Visual Communication: The distinctive steam coming out of the chimney is a great tool for restauranteurs who want to lure in hungry customers.

Originally published at seanleow.tumblr.com.