Restaurant of the Week: The Boiling Point

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The Boiling Point, 13089 Peyton Drive (at Beverly Glen), Chino Hills

Chino Hills has a variety of superior Chinese and Japanese restaurants that are more authentic than the norm for this area. One of the latest is The Boiling Point, open since July 2011 in the Crossroads Marketplace complex, which has locations in seven other Asian neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada.

It specializes in soup and boba tea. On a recent Saturday at luncthime, there was a signup sheet and a line out the door. Once seated, my friends and I were the only non-Asians in the place, usually a good sign.

The servers were rushed, but their English was very good. I ordered the seafood and tofu soup (pictured below) and my friends had the beef soup and the Taiwanese spicy soup. Each was $10 and included a bowl of rice or noodles and a tea. The soup arrived in a serving bowl atop a butane flame.

Candidly, we weren’t wowed, but I think it was more a case of cultural differences than the food itself. It wasn’t soup as we would expect it but rather various ingredients in boiling water, which the staff would cheerfully offer to refill from a pot much as a waitress might refill a cup of coffee.

One friend said the flavors were simply hot rather than complex while the other felt silly blowing on hot soup that was sitting atop a flame. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat out of the bowl or transfer the soup, or maybe just the ingredients, to the rice bowl. White people out of their depth is always a charming sight.

So, let me recommend Boiling Point for the adventurous and for those to whom this sort of thing is second nature. I’m honestly curious to hear others’ reactions.

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  • Marilyn

    We had a similar experience at The Boiling Point about a month ago. We were the only white people there, waited in line for a seat while an Asian woman took us under her wing. She shared her thoughts on best choices and warned us about “smelly” foods that we might not be used to. She was so pleased to have this “healthy choice” restaurant close to her home. The place was packed with Asian folks all enjoying steaming dishes on a cold day.

    Our waitress was a delightful, attentive young woman who also took time to explain the concept of “hot pot” and menu choices. (I think she too noticed our deer in the headlights expression!)

    I didn’t recognize half the vegetables in the soup (spicy beef). There was an underlying flavor that I couldn’t identify and didn’t particularly enjoy (as opposed to say, chicken broth or a tomato based broth).

    All in all, it was an eye opening experience but I can’t say that I would rush back there. Also, who wants hot soup in the heat of summer??

    [Marilyn, thanks for sharing your deer-in-the-headlights experience, and kudos for trying something outside your comfort level. -- DA]

  • Dee

    My son (white) went there with his girlfriend (Asian) and her brother. They were not impressed. They waited something like an hour, while already seated, before they were waited on and the food took forever to get there. The food was reported to be OK to good. I consider them experts on that as their parents owned an Asian restaurant for years.

    The girlfriend was VERY not impressed as I found the little “bonus card” (the kind where you get something free after so many meals) torn up in his pocket. I knew she was the one who tore it up because it was torn into six perfectly even little squares LOL.

    [Thanks for the report, Dee. "OK to good" would be my own opinion. My friends paid for lunch as a post-birthday treat and offered me the bonus card (which had three stamps, one for each of our meals, out of the required 10). I declined, but I can't imagine they'll be using it much even though they live across the street. -- DA]

  • http://www.ieshineon.com IEShineOn.com (@IEShineOn)

    Thanks for sharing your review. I wonder if it had a long line b/c it’s the only one of its kind in the area. I didn’t realize there was a Chinese hot pot place in Chino Hills. I’ll definitely have to check it out despite the so-so reviews.

    Thanks!

  • DAve

    Frankly I’d rather find a fly in my soup than an octopus.

  • Andy

    it seems it was just a couple weeks ago when I noticed the Boiling Point near Garfield and Garvey in Monterey Park, and it was completely full on a Monday night…. fast forward to now, there’s one in Chino Hills.

    I don’t think boiling soup is a very good translation for this. Modern Chinese hot pot is perhaps a better interpretation. Some of these things have no clear translation. I’m not too knowledgeable about the world of hot pot but I believe this to be a fusion of several things.

    1. Japanese Sukiyaki where food in broth is bought out boiling to your table in a single person serving.

    2. Chinese hot pot where you have a communal pot of boiling broth, drop in some ingredients, cook it, fish it out and eat some, drop in more.. fish out.. repeat until you’re full. Great for a cold day.

    3. Chinese street style hot pot – this is where I’m not too experienced in… but imagine a cold winter day on a street side cafe. They bring out a communal bowl of soup boiling with stuff in it. You ladle it out and share, drink beer, rice wine and warm yourself. But it’s communal.

    Chinese don’t think of this style of food as soup, but rather hot pot. Soup is something you drink on the side with your meal, not a meal in itself as a hot pot is.

    Also, this place is one of those more modern style Chinese foods. Looking at their menu, they have fusion and non-traditional flavors… tomato seafood for one, and a korean style. Thai style and japanese flavors are also popular but this place doesn’t seem to serve them.

    This typically appeals to younger folks, since it’s non-traditional in sense, meaning my parents, who are baby boomer generation, wouldn’t eat there.

    Hope this helps.

    [You make an excellent point about soup vs. hot pot and I should have thought more about that myself. It seemed like soup to us and was called soup, but you're right, it's really not. To correct one small observation of yours, there are hot pots on the menu with Thai and Japanese in their name. -- DA]

  • http://blogs.dailybulletin.com/rcnow Wendy Leung

    What’s with all the hot pot haters? And why do so many white people feel out of place when they’re the only non-whites in the room.

    Really, DAve? You’d rather eat a fly that could have been hovering over excrement than eat a sea creature that tastes like calamari?

    No wonder there aren’t more authentic choices out in the 909. People here get so freaked out so easily.

    Andy, I would add 4 to your list and that is Taiwanese hot pot. I’m pretty sure Boiling Pot is Taiwanese. Taiwan borrows much from Japanese culture, which prizes shabu shabu. In Taiwan, nearly all shabu shabu restaurants come with individualized pots and in Taipei you get the fusion soups like Tom Yum Gong and others.

    [Speaking on behalf of white people, we don't have much experience being minorities, and we get self-conscious when confronted with food we aren't sure how to eat. Nobody likes making mistakes in public. -- DA]

  • Jim

    This place had some horrifying reviews when it first opened (mostly service-related), so it appears that at least some of the problem has been worked out. As far as the line and the wait time, it needs to be mentioned that the place is not very big – a wait near lunch or dinnertime is to be expected. Finally, for those who are not quite ready for something as adventurous as hot pots, there is a new place featuring Indonesian foods just a few doors down from Boiling Point – check it out as well.

    [Do you mean Green Banana Leaf? I think it's Filipino but may be mistaken. And you're right about the small interior of Boiling Point. -- DA]

  • Andy

    @Wendy.. so this seems to be a Taiwanese trend. thanks for the info. there seem to be more new style hot pot places popping up these days.

    @David. Green Banana Leaf is a Filipino place. They claim to be fusion but there’s nothing fusion about it.

    @Jim thanks for the heads up on the Indonesian Place…

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/wok-combo-chino-hills

    appears to be a take out joint.

  • Andy

    @Wendy: Is there a special name for these individual Chinese hot pots?

  • http://blogs.dailybulletin.com/rcnow Wendy Leung

    @Andy Uh … xiao huo guo?

  • Andy

    I realized no one answered your question on how to eat. It’s been years since I last mini hot potted… but recalling and thinking…

    I’d be tempted to pick a couple pieces out of the pot with chopsticks, but that would be troublesome. It’s troublesome cause the pot is boiling and boiling and thus everything is scalding hot. I would transfer stuff to a small bowl, whether it be a heap of food or just a piece or two, and/or some broth and then let it cool momentarily before eating.

    About going to places where I feel out of place cause I’m the only non (insert type here)… I realized i do that quite a lot for food and adventure =))

    We almost went there on Sat after reading your review, but being as late as it was, we ended up at Market Broiler @ Ontario Mills…. confidently, i can say it was a disappointment but still much ahead of Red Lobsta.

    [I haven't been disappointed by Market Broiler (on the rare occasions that I've been there, and not for several years), but you're right, it's unexciting. Based on your hot pot experience, I ate the same way you did. I'm occasionally the only white person wherever I am, and it can be thrilling in a way; it's like I've cracked the code and discovered a secret place. But as a self-conscious person no matter where I am, that feeling can be heightened when I'm out of my element, too. -- DA]