photo credit: Tasty Planet
This casual yet lively spot is the only Taiwanese restaurant we’ve found in Miami. The University Park restaurant specializes in hot pots—but not the d.i.y. kind. Instead, you select one of Hi Pot’s cauldrons of boldly-seasoned broth filled with all sorts of texturally interesting things that cook at the table over portable gas burners.
The Taiwanese supreme spicy hot pot—our favorite—includes over 20 ingredients like instant ramen and tofu puffs. If that sounds like too much, they also have simpler pots. But everything is customizable here, including the broth’s spice level. One cauldron can easily feed two hungry and/or hungover FIU students. The Taiwanese popcorn chicken and the stinky tofu—classic Taiwanese night market snacks—are must-order appetizers. Just make sure to leave room for tong sui, a light and refreshing dessert soup, especially the mango sago.
Taiwanese Supreme Spicy Hot Pot
We don’t typically list every component in a dish, but you need to know just how many flavors and textures are going on here: sliced beef, Taiwanese cabbage, instant ramen, meltingly soft beef tendon, enoki mushrooms, tempura crunchies, Fuzhou fish balls, clams, squid rings, custardy pork blood cakes, fried tofu skin, tea trea mushrooms, tofu, surimi, meatballs, pickled mustard greens, tofu puffs, cilantro, scallion, and the most tender and cleanest-tasting pork intestines we’ve ever tried. All of this is swimming in a broth so bold and flavorful it could even turn that puddle in your front yard delicious.
Lamb Hot Pot
This hot pot isn't as busy as the supreme spicy one, but it’s still an orgy of textures. The thinly sliced lamb has a pleasant gaminess without tasting like a zoo and combines beautifully with the preserved mustard greens. The broth really enhances all the ingredients in this hot pot—from the mushrooms to the different types of tofu—but especially tastes like the liquid soul mate to the pork blood cakes.
There are different levels of funkiness to this Taiwanese delicacy depending on how long it’s been aged. The type they use at Hi Pot is on the milder side but still flavorful enough to dispel any notion that tofu is always bland. It’s fried until crispy and smothered in a chili sauce, which mellows the tofu’s pungency a bit without masking it. As for the tofu itself, the flavor reminds us of ripe cheese in the best way possible.
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
Hi Pot’s Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a crowd-pleaser and will ruin you for American-style popcorn chicken. It is the crispiest, crunchiest popcorn chicken you will ever have, and it will stay that way for a while, so you don’t need to inhale it like a foie gras goose. It’s also sprinkled with a combination of chili and five spice powders. You don’t need any sauce with it, but we won’t judge if you dunk it into the accompanying ketchup.
This is under the Special Dessert section of the menu, which consists of a handful of tong sui dessert soups. They’re all deliciously refreshing after a boiling hot cauldron of broth. They also make for a great snack in the middle of a hot summer day (i.e. all but three weeks out of the year). The mango sago tong sui strikes that perfect balance between light and creamy and consists of sweetened milk with slippery sago pearls, slices of ripe mango, and little scoops of rich egg custard. It will make you rethink soups as a solely savory dish.