“Dry pot” has become a standard feature of local Sichuan and Hunan restaurants. Unlike hot pot, where ingredients are cooked at the table in liquid, ingredients for dry pot are stir-fried in the kitchen and warmed at your table in a metal pan over a sterno. Warming keeps the food aromatic, and to an extent, keeps the food from feeling too oily.
Sizzling Gourmet specializes in dry pot, and is one of a handful of restaurants that allow the diner to choose their own adventure rather than select from a pre-chosen combinations of ingredients. Parallel to how hot pot works, diners choose one of five seasoning sauces, a main item, and optional add-on “sides” such as fresh vegetables, mung bean noodles, tofu products, etc. Over 20 meats/seafood come with complimentary potato, cauliflower, celery, and bean sprouts. There’s also chef specials, like Hunan crawfish, that don’t come with default sides, and a vegetarian option which allow you to pick 4 sides on top of the default.
I’m the kind of person who spends five minutes deliberating what to order at an omelette station, so I appreciated the help of the owner. He guided me to cabbage and tofu skin as add-ons to my order of frog with medium-spicy “spicy sauce”. I also got celtuce because it’s one of my favorite vegetables.
The vegetables got a charge of umami from doubanjiang, fermented fava bean and chili sauce, and extra chili flavor from whole dried chilies. The frog stayed succulent throughout the meal, and the owner attributed this to using fresh frog, which he said most restaurants don’t use.
The portions are much larger than you would get from a standard stir-fry, and more manageable to eat later than hot pot. They no longer offer the small version. With a side of smashed cucumbers and a side order of rice, I expect my leftovers from the medium to be enough for two more meals.
19541 Richwood Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014