All You Can Eat HOTPOT Buffet Tour of New York PART 1

Hey, it’s Mike Chen Awhile ago I did a video where I went and tried out and reviewed a lot of all you can eat hot pot restaurants in San Francisco And after that video came out a lot of you guys messaged me asking me to do the same thing for New York City, so I thought go around New York City, and eat at a lot of all-you-can-eat hot pot buffets Let’s do it So we’re going to go to a lot of the all-you-can-eat hot pot places in the city and we’re going to go try them out and like before we’re going to review them based on five things: meat quality, quantity of ingredients, the sauce bar, the broth and the service and we’ll rank each of these five criterias from one to five, five of course being the best, and because there are so many all-you-can-eat hot pot places in the city, I don’t think one video is going to cover it So we’re going to make it a series. All right guys. Let’s go hot potting. Our first stop is 99 Favors out here in Flushing. I’m starving. I had a reservation at 8:00. It’s 8:16, and there’s still a bunch of people ahead of me I’m about to munch on this bamboo. I mean pandas do it right? This is actually bigger upstairs than it is downstairs Thank you. Wow, look at how big that table is Here, the hot pot is $22.99 you get a dollar off if you are a VIP I don’t know what it takes to be a VIP, but a dollar seems a little low If you want to get Korean barbecue it’s $25.99 you want to get them together is $30.99 And here you can either get a big family-style pot and have three flavors three broth or you can get a big pot with two broth or you can get your own mini little pot Here you don’t mark anything on a slip of paper you just Tell your server what you want and she’ll put it into the iPad Now that I pretty much ordered everything on the menu let’s check out the sauce situation This sauce bar it’s actually really complete It has all my favorites: the chive sauce, sesame sauce, Chinese barbecue sauce and hot oil Sauce number one and one really simple three part sesame one part chive sauce It’s soup base testing time and I’m going to start off with the tomato It tastes like ketchup. I was really anticipating that because in San Francisco I had a two middle soup base that tasted really good But this one really just kind of tastes like ketchup This looks amazing This is the pork bone broth so I’m going to take a little bit of meat with my broth The pork bone broth has a lot of porky and herby flavor to it but it is kind of bland Herbal Broth. This is actually really good This is my favorite broth so far It’s very herbal-ly there’s definitely some Chinese medicine in here. I fare it’s really good. Finally the spicy broth It’s really spicy. Wow this broth as you can see has a lot of stuff in there, and it does taste pretty good This is Mike my server here. He’s dissecting the shrimp You must have got an A in science class; all my shrimp has been beheaded and he’s deveining the shrimp right now That’s some great tableside service. I of course opted for both the hot pot and barbecue I can never resist that and this is my favorite fatty beef brisket And they mixed in some kind of spicy sauce with it as well. Usually I like these with a little bit of salt and vinegar and sesame oil That’s heavenly the brisket’s nice ratio of lean and fatty meat It’s not sliced as thin as I would typically like but the quality of this meat is undeniable beautiful char on this brisket and the fat just melts. On this side this is duck and whenever I see duck on a BBQ you gotta get it. Duck is marvelous barbecue and look at all that beautiful duck fat Mmm. I love barbecue duck and my conch is ready. I’m really excited. I love conch so much I love conch because of its crunch. Okay, that’s stupid. I’m sorry I’m sorry. It’s so good; not too much seasoning on that. Short Ribs It’s not the most tender short rib you’ll ever have, but hey, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet; it’s flavorful enough Alright guys I feel really bad right now because during this meal time I’ve been neglecting Someone and I feel really bad because well, I love that individual and for it to feel neglected by me I feel horrible I need to make up to it. So let’s pay the hot pot some attention like I said really delicious broth Let’s go ahead and add some lamb and add some beef. About ten seconds in and it’s done. Let’s try the meat You are able to tell that it’s all you can eat hot pot buffet meat I mean, it’s not the most tender beef or lamb But the meat is sliced really thin and its able to soak up a lot of the soup And that’s soup really adds a lot of heat to the meat. My favorite thing to do is go tell the fried dough — that soak up some delicious soup That’s a beautiful bite. This is the cow tongue. A lot of people might not like this. But I love it. It’s really lean, really delicious meat. Dip that in my sesame oil and salt Guys for the first time in a hot pot buffet I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed because look at this I have a stack of BBQ meat here I have the plate of barbecue meat I’m working on here. I have my hot pot meat here I have more barbecue meat here, and I got these delicious sea food items sitting on the grill I really don’t even know what to do with myself right now. I don’t know what they eat. I’m feeling a little flustered I’m going to take a deep breath Let’s start eating I have so much meat I feel like if I don’t need these vegetables something bad’s gonna happen. A couple of dessert soups and this one looks like uh a little bit of icy rice soup with peanuts and some sort of red jelly That’s a perfect little post hot pot desert drink thingy. What I thought was red jelly is actually watermelon and this thing is so refreshing. And my tongue was kind of burning because of all the spice and heat and this thing just perfectly cooled everything down This looks like milk tea with some grass jelly in here And it tastes like milk tea with some grass jelly. Both desserts really refreshing especially after spicy, hot pot. Oh, I just had a thought guys When you come here, you don’t need to order any drinks, you don’t. Ask for a glass of water Don’t ask for an empty cup because that’s a little suspicious and fill it up with a milk tea and jelly This is a perfect drink with your hot pot. Now I feel kind of stupid. Alright Let’s talk about this place. 99 Favors for those of you who don’t know is probably the most recognizable name in all-you-can-eat hot pot in New York City I believe they have four locations already I think two in Manhattan, one of Brooklyn and one in Queens And it’s funny the reason they called this 96 Flavors as you saw on the front that’s because every time they register a company They have to call it something different So there’s just kind of counting down from 99 and if ever if you sound to one favor They would have already dominated the world. Let’s talk about the sauce bar. They have all the sauces I really love, so solid 4.5. When it comes to variety although the ingredients were presented in a beautiful looking menu with pictures They don’t offer as many items as you would think for example no potatoes, no egg, they only have one type of a lamb, one type of beef and really no dumplings at all. So for variety I’m going to give it a 3. Of all the broth options they offered I tried most of them the spicy and the herbal were pretty good, the other ones were either really Bland or it tasted like ketchup. For broth I give them a 3.5 I’m also going to get them a 3.5 for meat quality meat The meat was sliced really thin if you cook it really quickly and take it out It’s going to taste pretty good, but you can definitely tell it’s all-you-can-eat hot pot meat and it’s a little bit tough. Finally, service and I think service is where the chain really shines I mean the guy dissected a shrimp next to me. Everybody was uber attentive I asked a lot of questions, and they answered it very patiently even though they were super busy We did have to wait for about a half an hour even though we had a reservation so for that I give them a 4.5 So that will give them at least according to me 19 points and divided by 5 gives them an average of 3.8 and guys I do feel after eating at the Brooklyn, the Manhattan and now the flushing locations. This is a really solid place for hot pot or Korean barbecue or a combo of Korean barbecue and hot pot. Alright guys, onto location number two This is probably one of the more unique all you can eat hot pot restaurant in New York and probably the most economical because Everything you see behind me all this Everything here and all this is included in the buffet for about 12 bucks for lunch, and I think 16 dollars for dinner This is an especially good value if you’re a vegetarian because just look at all the stuff behind me we got mushrooms wood ear, more mushrooms, yucky stuff (broccoli). Something else I really like about this buffet They have some of the most unique noodles. I’ve ever seen my life I mean look at this stuff: fresh pumpkin noodles, spinach noodles, green tea noodles, but this layout here is not just all vegetarians They do have an assortment of fish balls and fish cakes But if you are a meataterian like me you’re going to want some beef and lamb And you can order them by the plate for about 4 to 6 dollars each So I got some fatty beef, Some non fatty beef, some prime beef, some rib eye beef and of course some lamb. For soup bases They have dashi, some pork bones, vegetarian or spicy dashi and spicy pork bone I wanted to try the pork bone, but of course I wanted it to burn a little bit So I got the spicy pork bone, and I got the regular dashi – just to try that soup base out This is a Dashi broth something very traditional for Shabu Shabu There’s not a lot of flavor in this broth pretty much tastes like boiling water with a little bit of Dashi And this is the spicy pork bone. That’s actually pretty good the broth is very pork It doesn’t taste very Chinese herby because there really isn’t a lot of Chinese herbs in here It’s kind of nice porky flavor the sauce bar is something that you typically will not be at all-you-can-eat hot pot place. There are a ton of different sauces here including pineapple, sesame sauce, that sounds interesting, spicy mustard sauce and wasabi They do have a already mixed spring special sauce that I’m going to try. This is their house sauce. Add some garlic. Some wasabi. I don’t know what I’m doing here, and let’s just try this pineapple sesame sauce. Little garnish. Something I never thought I would ever say on a hot pot buffet; I think there’s too much meat on my table I’m gonna go get some vegetables By the way this all counts as veggies. I mean the pork dumplings got some leek in there, and the spinach noodles got spinach Jackpot this is definitely the most expensive item on the dinner menu You don’t just eat for taste; you eat for value The meat looks like it’s really good quality: thinly sliced, nice marbling. Look how pretty that it is. Gonna try the spicy pork bone broth That’s done. That was the non fatty beef and it was pretty lean but at the same time still pretty tender And I feel like enough of the soup base got it soaked in there So that meat tasted pretty good without any sauce. Now let’s try the most expensive cut: the ribeye. That cooked in about five seconds. Dip that in a little of the original house sauce That is really good quality meat and the sauce is good It’s not as heavy as a typical Mike Chen hot pot sauce; more light more citrusy. I think that goes pretty well with meat. Now this is my sauce — put some wasabi in there How come I never put wasabi In my hot sauce before? That’s brilliant because it was mixed with sesame sauce the wasabi didn’t really burn It was like more of a subtle wasabi flavor and that was delicious. Now I’m going to show you guys why, in hot pot, I’m considered a dumper and because I am here by myself I could stop as much as I want. Fatty beef with a dashi broth You can’t really taste much of the broth but what that does to it, is that it highlights the natural flavor of the ingredient So if you like something more subtle, something that doesn’t mask the flavor of the meats and vegetables Basically the opposite of what I like to eat, this would be your broth But my personal opinion is still that this broth is pretty bland. I love oyster mushrooms. This is where I make my money back After about the fifth bite, the wasabi in the sauce is starting to burn and I’m telling you guys That’s a good burn. Pork dumpling is ready I like it when I bite into a dumpling and I can chew the meat and the vegetables inside the dumpling But I feel like this dumpling just kind of blended together with the skin This is what I’m really excited about the spinach noodles This counts as a serving of vegetables right? Ooh, the noodles are good. Here are the green tea noodles it kind of lost a lot of its green luster after being boiled I just want to try some on its own It’s pretty good. Just a little bit of matcha flavor. And the ramen I’m going to top that off with a little beef. Come to Papa I feel like the noodles, that’s really a highlight for this place I mean also it obviously a strategy to fill you up more But the noodles are really fresh and delicious and if you come here during lunch during the weekdays there’s only 12 bucks So that’s like a bowl ramen. This is a big chicken dumpling. Now that’s a good dumpling. I can taste the chicken and veggie filling. The filling’s a good size, really good dumpling. Alright mom, if you’re watching I am trying to make this a balanced meal by eating my greens I do have like five plates of beef on the table. But one leaf of spinach cancels out one slice of beef right? I mean that math sounds good to me, and I should know; I’m Asian. I’m good at math especially food math I’ll give this place props; their vegetables are really fresh. Okay I went a little crazy with the sauce This is pineapple sesame sauce with some chive purée, some spicy mustard and of course wasabi. I am very unsure about this Okay, maybe don’t try that and I got some soft-serve ice cream Which is always welcome at the end of a hot pot. Of course this place being somewhat of a mix between all-you-can-eat Chinese hot pot and shapu shapu It’s going to be hard to rate this place like I typically do for example a meat quality I mean you got to pay for the meat So the meat quality is pretty good But that doesn’t really come with the buffet. Also the service; when you’re here you don’t really rely on the server’s as your lifeline Between your unlimited needs so that’s also hard to say well Let’s talk about what we know first of all soup base in my honest opinion If I was to put this place’s broth in either category, it’s going to fall short either way I feel like the dashi is not nearly as flavorful as some of the shabu shabu places I went to in California When it comes to the pork bone broth it was flavorful But didn’t quite add too much to my meat and vegetable. So for broth. I give this place a 2.5 when it comes to variety Especially the non meat kind, this place like I mentioned before, is a vegetarian’s paradise; tons of vegetables tons of noodles, all really fresh. For that, I’m going to give this place a 4. Now let’s talk about the sauce bar It’s really made to satisfy both worlds of Chinese hot pot and shabu shabu and there’s a lot of very innovative sauces and spices on that bar that I typically never seen before and it was really fun to try them all out so for the sauce bar I give this place a 4.5 and although, I didn’t rely on anybody to get my food the service here is really good so for that I’m gonna get them a 4. Like I mentioned before the meat isn’t included in the buffet So we’re going to leave that out. So just based on those 4 factors I would give them a total of 15 points divided by 4 that’s 3.75 and this is why I normally only go to all you can eat hot pot places because here although my meal wasn’t expensive 16 dollars I did order 5 plates of meat and those 5 plates of meat is gonna cost me 25 dollars So you added up together my bills probably gonna be around $40 much more expensive than if I went to an all-you-can-eat buffet where everything was included. If you are a vegetarian or you are a vegan and you love, hotpot. You cannot beat this deal, especially during lunch on the weekdays All right guys on to location number three Little Lamb is probably the most well-known Chinese hot pot place in America. The Little Land places here in New York have what they call a summer special I think starting in April you have all-you-can-eat on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the general perception of Little Lamb hot pot is that their quality is really good both in terms of soup bases and ingredients, now they don’t have a lot of selections when you’re trying to choose soup. They only have two choices: one is their original famous famous milky bone broth and the other is their milky bone broth that is spicy and of course when they offer all-you-can-eat It’s not going to be everything on their typical menu; they do have a selection here, that is included in the buffet which is $22.95 and then a little premium section here for 4 dollars extra for each person at the table So of course I gotta add the premium. Like I mentioned before, although there’s not a huge selection of hotpot broth in this place, the broth that they do have is really really famous. They sell this actually at supermarkets and their signature is this very herbally Chinese medicine-y milky bone marrow broth. My mouth is already watering because I know I know this is good. I know this is good and just look at all these herbs and ingredients they have in here: ginger, dates, juju. I could drink that broth on its own. It’s really herby, nice and thick And creamy — really creamy and you can tell the thing that’s been cooked for a long long time. Let me try the spicy one That’s delicious. I mean you can’t even compare the broth; the broth here is 100%, hands-down, the best of all the places I’ve ever been to. And just in case you never had hot pot before these are cooking instructions There’s not a lot of ingredients in terms of the sauce bar But we’ll make do. Some Chinese barbecue sauce, sesame, minced garlic, we’ve gotta add some hot oil — a lot of hot oil. Finish with some soy sauce Just the way I like it: really red. Alright, I got my plum juice. I got my watermelon juice. I got my sauce Tastes good. I’m ready to rock and roll. This is their little fried bun Oh, I had this before you dip this in condensed milk It’s actually really good; salty and sweet who says you can’t start off with dessert? First round is all meat This is the triple A lamb. Let’s start off with this Look how thin this is Beautiful marbling let’s do the spicy side. It says ten seconds, but definitely it’s gonna be less — probably five seconds, yep Already done. oh It’s a slight, slight, gamy flavor But most of that can be chased away by the broth if you don’t want to you don’t really even need to dip it in The sauce the broth is flavorful enough and that lamb Man that’s tender. This is the triple A. Let’s dip this in the regular broth Wow It’s good the New Zealand lamb is definitely more gamy; both pieces are ridiculously tender. This is the angus beef and right away You could tell this is a different than regular hot pot fatty beefs Because just look at all the marbling, let me show you. This is a plate of fatty beef. I don’t know if guys can tell The difference, but you see lean meat here And then they get the fat. But here the marbling of fat goes all the way Through and that’s what’s going to make this uber tender I could right away tell the difference between that cut of meat And almost every other cut of beef I’ve had at all-you-can-eat hot pot places. I’m gonna try another piece in the spicy one Right away as soon as you bite down. That meat, it’s just not tough at all I mean that mean will lose a fight to a baby, so Incredibly gentle and Smooth and melty, that’s probably why this place only has buffets over the summer because otherwise they go bankrupt I mean just by me alone. I’d be here every single day eating that beef This is the beef soaked in beer, how beautiful I mean all the meat coloring it is so pretty It’s like they took a Crayon and just colored the meat in before they brought it out. You can smell the beer That beef is really tender with just a slight taste of alcohol. It’s actually much better than the wine marinated meat I had on the west coast. This is the cubano pork it’s a black pork from Japan. I know this might seem kind of scary because it looks really oily, but I think it’s gonna be good. Come here, little piggy Wow, I love the hot oil here. It’s actually spicy. Make sure you bib up trust me no matter how ridiculous look you’re going to be the one laughing at the end when everybody else has been covered in splatter Those of you who don’t like spam, I dare you to try it with your hot pot. Delicious I know it’s a mystery meat, but that’s a delicious mystery. This is the egg-y pork dumpling. It looks beautiful It’s like eating up pork omelet I’m not really sure what I just ate; did I just eat dumpling? Did I just eat a omelette? Did I just have breakfast? Rolled up tofu skin I’m gonna bring this to my mouth right away. What I love about fried tofu is they soak up all the juice from the broth Then they soak up the juice from your sauce They never get soggy so they still have like a crunchy texture to them. Then you add some Beef to it. It’s like a sleeping bag. Let’s just wrap it up It’s like I just ate a bunch of tender beef that just went camping and I just scooped them up in their beautifully delicious tofu sleeping bags. That was a great all-encompassing fight. You got the meat, you got the tofu, you got a little crunch from the tofu and then you got the soup that sucked inside the tofu. That’s like everything I love about hotpot all in one bite. This is my favorite part of a hotpot is the potato. You guys might laugh You guys might be like okay? What is it you like a potato? And you’re saying this because you never tried potato and hotpot. Take it out after it’s been boiling for a while So it’s nice and mushy, dip it in your sauce and that might be one of the best bite of potato You’ll ever have. Another favorite of mine is the noodles. When you’re almost done with your hot pot, put some noodles into your hot pot and let it soak up all that delicious flavor from the broth and from all the food you’ve been tossing inside and out comes this beauty. Look at how lovely that is Eating noodles at the end of hotpot is like an encore. It’s like tasting everything you put into the hot pot all over again It’s like Benjamin buttoning yourself That didn’t even need the spices. I gotta have my chinese fried dough. Love Chinese fried dough and hotpot It’s oily, it’s messy. You’ve got that nice broth in there That’s my hot pot guilty pleasure. I mean hot pot already is a guilty pleasure This is my guilty pleasure of my guilty pleasure. Alright, we’re at a critical juncture of our hot pot meal We still have a lot of food on the table. I think everybody here is done This is where I make all my money back. Come to Papa Come to Mikey. it’s like herding cattle. That’s it. I’m done. I have a really weird Reflex when I’m full, I sneeze non-stop about 10 to 12 times I kid you guys not. That means I sneeze, that means I’m done. Really done. Great hot pot experience And they give you a little yogurt at the end. Looks like the best way to top off a hot pot meal with some nice yogurt-y drink Then check this out; you guys might’ve laughed at my bib But look look what it protected me from. This could have been on my soy sauce shirt So I could have had like soy sauce and grease on my shirt. Let’s talk about the hot pot I of course opted for the premium hot pot which is additional $4 bringing my total here today to $26.95 still not a bad deal for all-you-can-eat. In terms of lamb, the triple A lamb that was on the regular menu and the special New Zealand lamb that was on the premium menu I didn’t feel like those two were really that much different; the New Zealand lamb was even gamy-er But I really love the angus beef So I would say shell out the extra 4 bucks and get the premium items. If you do I would rate the meat quality here A solid 4. The hot pot, although there’s only two selections, is probably the best hot pot broth you’re going to find at an all-you-can-eat buffet. So I will get the broth another solid 4. When it comes to ingredients they do have a good selection here so I’d give that a 3.5. The sauce bar itself, it is kind of limited But with the nice broth, I don’t feel like you need as much sauce at other places But I will still get that at 3 and finally when it comes to service I feel like it’s gonna be hit or miss, I’ve been here when the service isn’t so good But today it was spot on they brought everything We needed of course I was here at 4 o’clock so wasn’t a lot of people here But just today alone I gave the service another 4. Which totals 18.5 with a 3.7 average But I do feel this is definitely one of the best tasting all-you-can-eat hot pot buffets in New York City Definitely the best quality I wouldn’t suggest coming here if they didn’t have the buffet because then I feel like you were usually spend over 30 – 35 dollars on your portion alone. So with the buffet 100% hit this place up Bubble tea must have after some great hotpot. You know what I love about hotpot other than it being ridiculously delicious? Hot pot is one of those meals that everybody loves. You could be a meat lover, a veggie lover, a spice lover, a non spice lover, a bland water veggie eater Whatever you like hotpot has something for you. Hot pot is like the It’s like the UN of food. If hotpot was in charge of the world, there’d be world peace. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but it’s for sure a food that brings people together, and that’s one of the many reasons I love it. And guys, like I mentioned in the beginning of this video, this is New York City There’s still a ton of all-you-can-eat hot hot places out there for me to try and I can’t wait to get to them all. And guys as always all the places I went to in this video is listed in my description box below; all the scores, all that that’s just my own opinion, you might have something different, and that’s completely okay But definitely get these places to try and I would love to know how you like them and as always Thank you all so much for watching this video and until we eat again. I’ll see you later

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