Liu Yi Shou is an authentic Chinese hotpot restaurant that was founded in the streets of Chongqing, China back in the year 2000. Since opening their first mom-and-pop restaurant, they now have over 1,200 restaurants worldwide including 18 that are located in North America, with some in Canada and some in America. One of those many restaurants are located in our very own San Diego! Liu Yi Shou opened not too long ago in the heart of Convoy of San Diego, the home of much of the authentic Asian food in the city.
For those who are unfamiliar, Chinese hot pot is distinctly different from other types of hot pot, including another popular version of hot pot, Japanese shabu shabu. Chinese hot pot is different in that their broth is very rich in flavor and often includes many different types of Chinese herbs making it actually quite healthy in the sense of the ingredients that go into the broth. Meat-based Chinese hot pot broths are often simmered and cooked for hours in order to truly extract and cook out all the flavor from the meat, and you will often find the actual meat used to make the broth in the broth itself already, aside from the raw meat plates that you order to cook in the broth. Similarly to shabu shabu, you order raw meat and veggies of your liking and you cook it yourself with either chopsticks or the soup spoons that usually come with it. The main difference is truly in the broth. While in shabu shabu, most of the flavor comes from the sauces with a more simple and mildly flavored broth, in Chinese hot pot, the flavors are very strong and rich and sauces are sometimes not even necessary but still offered.
For some reason, hot pot seems to be one of the most hated Chinese dishes, or meals, due to the racism that surrounds it. While it is served in a way that is quite unique from most American or European dishes, it does not deserve the hate and racist attacks that it receives. Chinese hotpot serves beef or pork or chicken broth with meats that we are all familiar with: beef, pork, chicken, lamb, seafood, etc. I know racism is not something that can be defeated by me explaining what is literally in the food, but it is the blatant ignorance and refusal to accept the true facts of some people that completely blows my mind. Regardless, if you refuse to try hot pot, that is quite literally on you, and it is not my fault you are missing out. And that is the end of that.
Now back to Liu Yi Shou. I was really impressed by the meat and vegetable selection here as well as all the different sauces and add-ons that are available. One thing I love about them is that you can choose two different types of soup base and they will divide the hot pot in half with one soup base on each side so you get to have more variety in your meal. They have quite a lot of options for their soup base which can be overwhelming, but their most popular soup bases would probably be their Liu's house special soup base and house special chicken soup base. Their Liu's house special soup base is a great opportunity to add some spice and is best with a little spice, I don't think you can get it without any spiciness actually, but their lowest level of spice is very doable and actually compliments the broth very well. Their house special chicken soup base is very rich and creamy with actual chicken meat in there, this one is a really great neutral base that still has great flavor. Next time I go, I actually want to try their tomato soup base because I love a little bit of tanginess in my food.
Their most popular meat option is their Liu's beef and lamb platter which is served on a beautiful wooden platter that is a big circle and goes around the entire hot pot. I absolutely love their presentation for this platter (the rest of the meat options are not served like this) because not only was it beautiful to look at and great for photos, but it was also very convenient and handy when it came to reaching for the meat and cooking it, it was all around the hot pot itself so it made it very accessible. The meat quality itself is very good, the meat cooks fast and is very tender and since both meats can be eaten raw, you don't need to fear that it is not cooked all the way through.
Another item I highly recommend (other than the beef and lamb platter) would be their sliced Angus beef. This was hands down the best meat I've had at a hot pot place. The meat literally melts in your mouth and the texture and flavor were just absolutely amazing. I am honestly not able to do it justice with just my words, you simply have to try it out for yourself, especially if you're a beef lover like myself! This plate is slightly more pricey, but I would say it is definitely worth it.
They have a huge selection of meats and vegetables and I barely brushed the surface of the menu so I definitely have a lot more to experience and I will definitely be going back, several more times at least.
Liu Yi Shou in San Diego is officially open for indoor dining again, so this is the perfect opportunity to try out their delicious hot pot for yourself!
Follow me on Instagram @sanfoodiego for more food-related content!