A new restaurant in Springfield, Missouri, is putting its own spin on hot pot dining. Little Korea, which opened in July, serves hot pots in individual portions rather than the traditional shared pot for multiple diners. According to owner Jay Jung, Little Korea is the first restaurant in the region to offer hot pots in this format.
"About two years ago, I started seeing restaurants like this with individual hot pots," Jung says. "I wasn't sure that it would work in Springfield." But when his real estate agent showed him the restaurant's current space, which is in between Springfield's two major hospitals, he saw the potential in the location.
The ordering process at Little Korea is simple: Before your server arrives to take your order, select a soup base, ingredients like vegetables and meat, and dipping sauces. Your server will then place the pot of broth on the tabletop burner. Once it reaches a boil, you can begin dipping your ingredients in and retrieving them using the provided spoon. Meats typically take anywhere from two to five minutes to fully cook, while vegetables only require two minutes in the pot. You can enjoy your meat and veggies on a bed of rice and dip it all in your favorite sauce.
Little Korea offers a vegetable-based broth, a spicy broth and a ginger chicken broth. Protein options include beef, chicken, tofu, shrimp and flounder, and each pot comes with a bowl of steamed rice, an assortment of vegetables and two housemade dipping sauces. You can also choose add-ons like a boiled egg and kimchi.
The individual hot pots are a game-changer for diners with dietary restrictions. Vegetarians can choose a vegetable-based broth and don't have to worry about meat coming in contact with their broth. To accommodate even more diners, Little Korea also offers gluten- and dairy-free dipping sauces.
"Springfield has a variety of people," Jung says. "Some people like spicy foods, some people don't… We also have vegetarians. Everyone has a different idea of what they want to eat."
And at Little Korea, you can eat exactly what you want.
Little Korea, 3354 South National Ave., Springfield, Missouri, facebook.com/Little-Korea-SGF