All hot pots start out with a soup base like the Japanese miso soup seen here from QPOT in Auburn.

A perk of having a diverse friend group are the moments we share bits and pieces of our culture with each other.

One friend in particular is a natural born foodie. Be it Southern Sunday staples or the best burger joint you’ve never heard of, she’s had them all. However, nothing beats some authentic Asian cuisine.

Of the many restaurants on our “night out” hit list, hot pot is one that we have yet to cross off. Having heard her rave about how good it is over the years, when the chance to review Auburn’s new hot pot restaurant, QPOT, I was all for it.

Traditionally, hot pot is a Chinese cooking method using soup stock to cook a variety of Asian foods. An actual pot is placed on a cooking plate on a table, and once the soup stock begins to boil, you start adding the other food into it: thinly sliced meat and seafood, vegetables and even noodles.

It’s very do-it-yourself in that you have to remain aware that you’re cooking and handling heat. Yet, according to my friend, that’s what makes it so popular in Asian countries; in it encourages friendship and fellowship through cooking a meal.

Without my friend there to guide me, I played things safe and stuck with their premium beef combo mini hot pot with Japanese miso soup as my base.

Every table in the restaurant has a small ceramic stove top cooking eye at each place setting, with a larger one nestled in the middle for larger hot pot orders.

For anyone who’s looking to try something new, I’d definitely suggest QPOT. Not only is it unique in that it lets the customers do the cooking, the hosts and hostesses take the time to walk you through the process to make sure you enjoy your meal.

When the miso soup was brought out, my host showed me how to adjust the levels on the cooking eye and explained when to add in the beef and vegetables that they would bring out later.

Pro tip: Don’t add all your meat and veggies into your soup stock at once. Introduce foods in small groups at a time so that your meat will be able to fully cook itself through.

The flavors of the beef and vegetables having cooked together in the soup complemented each other so well. Even though my serving was a considered a “mini” hot pot, I think it would have satisfied me and a friend just fine.

Including tax and 15 percent gratuity, my mini hot pot set me back $19.97. Not bad at all.

The restaurant’s inside was spacious, despite having mostly booth- style seating and the large ceramic eye stove top tables.

The staff was also incredibly helpful and kind. I’ll definitely be back with friends.

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