When the Dolar Shop opened its doors on Prince Street in Flushing in 2015, it became the first American location for the Chinese “hot pot” brand.
Hot pot is a hands-on style of Chinese cuisine in which diners sit in front of individual boiling pots of broth and make their own meals by dropping raw meat and fish inside. The Dolar Shop provides a high-end take on this popular Chinese style, offering six different broths that add unique flavors to a wide array of quality, organic meats and seafood.
“I think the hot pot, in my opinion, is not only a dinner or lunch, but also a kind of social activity,” said Suzie Cheung, the owner of Flushing’s Dolar Shop. “You can cook it by yourself, talking with your friends and laughing at the same time.”
Since opening its first U.S. location at 36-36 Prince St., Cheung said that she has seen a great deal of interest, especially among young people. The eatery has introduced hot pot to borough residents of different cultures—American, Korean, Indian and others.
Even basketball star Jeremy Lin, of the Brooklyn Nets, is a frequent visitor.
According to Cheung, the Dolar Shop strives to provide healthy, fresh and organic food with a high-end presentation.
The emphasis on presentation was clear on a recent visit to the restaurant. Surrounding a decorative, blue Dolar Shop-brand pot were an array of raw foods, exquisitely laid out—three stacked plates containing neatly folded beef and lamb; a platter with handmade balls of beef; cuttlefish and shrimp served with a smoking bottle of dry ice to make it more “dramatic,” according to Cheung; a bowl of raw squid, shrimp, mussels and oysters on ice, accompanied by a decorative fisherman figurine; and strips of thinly cut, high-quality wagyu meat, stacked carefully against a conical block of ice, creating a small mountain of meat. All of it is meticulously arranged by the cooks and manager Jayden Liu in the kitchen.
The meats, particularly wagyu, are flavorful and tender—the Dolar Shop uses the same supplier as the Peter Luger Steak House, according to Cheung. But the seafood is the real highlight. With such standouts as the shrimp, mussels and cuttlefish balls, the eatery’s seafood is fresh and addictive, especially when combined with the seasonings from the broth. For spice-lovers, the broth, based around Szechuan peppers, adds a powerful, spicy kick that might make you sweat and smile at the same time. For less daring diners, the Dolar Shop has other broth options that tone down the heat.
Dolar Shop customers can also add their own flavors by sampling from a buffet-style bar of dipping sauce ingredients, including soy, seafood and peanut butter sauces.
For hot pot newbies, it can take some practice to keep track of all the food cooking beneath the surface of your brew and fishing them out before overcooking them—but that’s all part of the hot pot experience, making it more than a meal and closer to a social outing, Cheung said. And the reward is certainly worth it—the Dolar Shop’s hot pot meals are both filling and delicious.
– James Farrell