I have to say that I was skeptical when I saw that “Old House Hotpot” here in San Diego only has a three-star rating on Yelp. Some people giving out reviews complain about the price, others say the service is not that good.
The Old House Hotpot’s own official site does not offer a lot of information about its establishment; it just encourages people to “stop by our hot pot place, where we serve up a delicious menu which includes comfort food. We look forward to welcoming you!”
What I noticed, however, is that the picture of their menu had a key bit of information in Chinese that is not reflected in the English name of the restaurant.
In Chinese, their name literally is “Chengdu Old House Hotpot” (成都老房子火锅). Considering that Chengdu hotpot is one of my favorite hotpot styles, I just had to check it out. And I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.
“Felt Like Being Back in China”
The decor, both exterior and interior, is very Chinese. In fact, as soon as I stepped inside, I felt like I was back in China.
Part of this relates to the name of the place. It sounds odd in English, but the Chinese version comes across a lot cooler. It evokes the feeling of the ancient, historical architecture of China, and is a perfect match for the restaurant’s interior design.
I can see why there are a lot of low ratings on Yelp, as the service is very reminiscent of the way most restaurants work in China.
There isn’t really an assigned waiter, and more often than not, you have to flag someone down when you need something.
However, this is something I got used to back in China, so I didn’t mind. It actually adds to the atmosphere in some ways.
Another potential downside for customers is that the facilities are not very well-maintained. I would not go so far as to say the place is dirty, but it definitely does not come across as being spick and span like a Haidilao location.
For our dinner here, we ordered a ‘split pot’ with tomato and spicy broths. As usual, I stuck to the spicy side, and it was PERFECT.
This is the exact flavor I miss from China, and although it was actually more of a Chongqing style than Chengdu style, I was fine with that. It beats the flavor of the well-known Little Sheep chain hands down.
Old House offers a small bar to create dipping sauces, exactly the same as you will see in many places in China, plus free appetizers such as fried dough twists.
Something else I really liked is that they have chuan chuan, which is essentially a hotpot variation where the food items are on skewers that you toss into the broth (read more on chuan chuan here).
This is something I miss a lot from back in China; it allows you to customize your meal to a much larger degree because you can pick any skewer you like to put in your hotpot. Of course, they have the same full menu you would expect from a hotpot place, with all the meat, veggies, seafood, tofu products, etc. that you see in China.
The price was about what I expected, $50 for a meal for two. That’s a bit on the pricey side compared to what you would pay in China, but it was worth it to fulfill my desire for some authentic hotpot.
All in all, Old House hotpot offered a very authentic, delicious hotpot experience. I will certainly be going back many times.
Unfortunately for non-San Diegans, this is not a chain restaurant; they only have one location, in a part of the city with a large Chinese population. If you are a resident of San Diego, or are here on vacation, and would like to have some authentic Chinese hotpot, this is definitely the place to go.
Old House Hotpot
Open Daily 12-12
8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste S1
San Diego, CA 92111
Please note that Hotpot Ambassador is not affiliated with this restaurant or any other hotpot brand or restaurant in any way.
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