It's so refreshing to find a place that isn't afraid to keep the heat in their Mongolian hot pot, spicy version. Here are two excellent places where you can test your tolerance.
Photos by Jay Francis
I had Mongolian hot pot with a group of Houston Chowhounds at the wonderful Sichuan Cuisine (9114 Bellaire Boulevard). For a fixed price of around $15 a person, the table gets a big pot of broth with several cups of chiles, Sichuan peppers and other spices floating in it (refills are free). You pick and choose your ingredients from a checklist, which was a learning experience. There are some things that, if put in too soon, fall apart and make a complete mess of the soup. Other items are in the Bourdain realm -- chunks of dried blood, for example. Fortunately, we were able to keep some of our more adventurous eaters from adding the wackier stuff.