By Gretchen Webster
WESTPORT — Hungry Pot restaurant, where diners barbecue or simmer their own food, opened Thursday at 1860 Post Road East. Located in the former Panera restaurant, the all-you-can-eat restaurant had already attracted several tables full of diners for lunch opening day.
Each table has a metal barbecue “pit” in the center. Customers can choose to make a hot pot meal with a choice of several soup bases, or Korean barbecue. No matter the selection, the table is soon filled with all sorts of ingredients to make a meal surrounding the warming fire.
For hot pots, a diner can choose from an array of sliced meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles, with tofu and bean curd specialties, and sides such as shumai or dumplings to add to the soup base they choose. The menu offers 24 different vegetables, a dozen meats, 10 types of seafood, five types of noodles from Ramen to Udon noodles, and four kinds of tofu and bean curd.
Meat is featured on the Korean barbecue menu, with spicy and non-spicy varieties, as well as seafood choices ranging from mussels to garlic shrimp to spicy baby octopus, salmon and tuna. Several vegetables are also offered and green leaf lettuce tops off the barbecue meal.
For those who have never tried Korean barbecue, the restaurant’s website offers a video with instructions on how to cook a meal. And, of course, the Hungry Pot’s friendly staff is available to help diners learn about cooking Korean barbecue.
The grilling steps include melting butter on the grill, choosing meat or fish and cooking it on each side for three minutes, flipping it and cooking it for three more minutes. Meat is then cut into small pieces with kitchen scissors provided to guests, flipping the meat and, finally, to “enjoy the meat with the green lettuce and sauce.”
The restaurant also has a bar menu with beer, wine and cocktails, and shooters such as raspberry gummy bear or pink starburst, plus non-alcoholic drinks.
The Westport restaurant is the fourth Hungry Pot in Connecticut with others in Danbury, Wethersfield and Manchester. There is also a Hungry Pot restaurant in Dartmouth, Mass., with another opening soon in Natick.
The Westport Hot Pot is open noon to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Last seating is an hour before closing daily.)
Monday through Friday, lunch items are served from noon to 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to closing. On Saturday and Sunday, dinner is served all day. Children’s prices are available at all times with one price for children 4 to 6, and another for those 7 to 10 years old.
For more information, call 203-292-3655 or 203-292-3656, or visit the Hungry Pot website.
Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman and has taught journalism at New York and Southern Connecticut State universities.