December isn't usually prime patio season, and most restaurants pack up their al fresco furniture for warmer months. Petworth's Crane & Turtle has instead decided to break out heaters, blankets, and hot pot this winter.
Fridays and Saturdays, chef Makoto Hamamura offers Japanese hot pot for two groups of four at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. A meat option comes with as much New York strip as you can eat plus an array of mushrooms, tofu, and cabbage. The beef broth is seasoned with Szechuan chilies, garlic, onion, and more. A vegetarian option comes with a miso and kombu-based broth and plenty additional vegetables like bok choy.
When I visited, the meal was accompanied by a tahini-based dipping sauce. But Hamamura says the all the hot pot ingredients may change slightly week to week. Later, for example, he may add chicken meatballs. The feast is a decent deal at $35 per person. Tickets for January seatings just went live and are available here.
Hamamura says the idea was to boost sales in cold months but also embrace a favorite holiday and winter activity in Japan. Because of staffing limitations during the week, he's only able to offer the hot pot on weekends.
Another new (and fancier) source for hot pot in D.C.: The Source. As part of its recent renovation, the restaurant added a hot pot table for four that includes a full tasting menu for $65 per person. Chef Scott Drewno spends 20 hours brewing a both of chicken feet, pork ribs, beef, Szechuan peppercorns, and other ingredients.
Rather than throwing everything in at once, a progression of proteins flavor the broth—from wagyu beef short ribs to Gulf shrimp skewers to chicken and pork dumplings. Each "course" is accompanied by a different dipping sauce. In addition to the hot pot, the meal begins with a hamachi crudo and ends with coconut panna cotta.
Photo by Jessica Sidman