We were able to snag a table on their second day. Service was still finding its way and I suspect it will take some time to work out the kinks. I’m excited to see a chef-driven project open on Sawtelle.
The cafe is small: A large communal table, a counter running along one side and a few two-and four-tops on the other. The appetizers were all delicious (see @CiaoBob’s writeup) especially the cold smoked scallops and the sliced chicken in chili oil.
Hot Pot is not my favorite cuisine so I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over. But this was really good. The broths are well crafted - deeply flavored, clean, not over-seasoned. We ordered both the Mala and Shanto Beef. The condiment sauces are hand made and fresh-tasting. Lovely plates of high-quality sliced short rib. The platters of vegetables and noodles are individually curated for each broth.
Hot pot always struck me as a pursuit of quantity over quality. This is something else - like home cooking with top notch ingredients. Hot pot traditionalists might not approve but this deeply personal effort deserves our support - once they get their staff trained and come up with some sort of waitlist management system, that is.
P.S. The bunsen burners under the hot pot look cool but are a little on the weak side.