Here in Bloomington, restaurants come and go pretty quickly. Hell, I guess everywhere restaurants come and go pretty quickly. It's a tough business. But there's one restaurant that's stuck around for a while now--since 2017, which is pretty impressive. My friend Joelle first told me about it: "Homie Hot Pot. You cook your own food at the table!"
Y'all, I'm not a cook. It just doesn't come naturally to me. And why the hell should I go to a restaurant and pay for food that I have to cook myself? I may have said something like that to Joelle before dismissing Homie from my head.
Well, years pass and people change, and yet Homie remains, an assuming little establishment on Walnut, a couple of blocks north of the square. And somehow, I came around to the idea of trying Homie Hot Pot, which I did on a grey, chilly Sunday afternoon in early January.
(I took Joelle, of course.)
It's not a place that has a noticeable ambiance--that's not why people go there. Homie's is All About the Food. It's, like, $20 or $21 for unlimited hotpot stuff and sushi, to say nothing of the peanuts and pickled vegetables they dump on your table pretty much immediately. (Word from the wise: don't linger over-long on these free little noshes. Focus on the food you order.)
Obviously you cook your food on the burners that are embedded on the table.
The server takes your order of your broth type and all the meats and vegetables and noodles and rice and dumplings you want, and in short order comes back, plunks your hot pot on the burner, pours your broth in the hot pot, turns the burner on, and then brings you all your (uncooked) food.
The broth in the hot pots comes to a rapid boil, much like a witch's cauldron, and then you can start plopping the food in the pots. And once the food cooks...then you eat.
And then, if you order sushi, you eat some more.
The verdict? I'd go back. This is a restaurant where you can definitely get value for your money. Furthermore, there are options here for foods that I daresay it's hard to find elsewhere in Bloomington--lotus root, taro, wintermelon, quail egg, and so on. (Did I eat any of these? No I did not. Don't you judge me!) I was a little put off by the whole cooking-my-own-food thing...like I said, I am not a natural cook. How do I know when I have cooked the shrimp or beef or whatever enough? What if I kill myself from food poisoning? I'm still alive now, so I guess I did okay.
When it's cold and grey and wintery out there, this is a good place to retreat to for a hot and hearty soup with your choice of all sorts of tasty things. I can't imagine that it would be the most appealing place to go to in the summertime, but then...maybe that's when I should review this joint for its sushi!