Don’t expect a relaxing meal at Potasia Hotpot & Noodle Bar. Rewarding, intriguing, delicious, yes. But successfully manning your own Sichuan hot pot requires vigilance and a little know-how.
Potasia opened in July in the former home of La Candela Bistro, and all traces of that Peruvian restaurant have been banished. The space has been transformed into a Chinese hideaway, with hanging lanterns, plush upholstery and elaborate carvings. Inset into each granite tabletop are two or four round heating chambers that each accommodate a pot of broth. Once the broth comes to a boil, the diner uses it to cook a variety of meats, vegetables and noodles.
Sounds simple enough, but the devil is in the details. Certain ingredients — such as the super-thin slices of beef or sprigs of watercress — cook in seconds. Others — hefty shiitake mushroom caps, slabs of pumpkin — need more time. It’s hard to know exactly how many of the 79 items to order (though I’m here to tell you that 13 is probably too many).
Some items (premium ox aorta, snowflakes cattle, frozen tofu) require additional information which your server may or may not be able to supply. It’s also helpful to know that the broth you started with will be exponentially more flavorful when you’ve finished cooking all the meats and vegetables in it. Now is the time to cook the noodles.
Dipping sauce requires another paragraph. In the back of the restaurant is a three-tiered bar displaying chilled pans of sauces, pastes and aromatics. You concoct your own condiment from these 30-odd components. (A few classic recipes are also posted.)
Diners have the option of five soup bases (pork leg bone, tomato, herb, hot & spicy, hot & spicy butter or vegan mushroom) and can have their own individual pot or share a larger one with tablemates. There are also three signature combos, one with meats and mushrooms ($39.99), one with seafood ($49.99) and a surf-and-turf ($45.99). These easily serve two people. Creating your own hot pot may run you a bit more.
The menu also features a few appetizers and noodle dishes, beer and wine.
Potasia (it’s pronounced pot-Asia) is brought to you by the same team that owns MoCA Asian Bistro in Woodbury and Hewlett, and ToA Asian Fusion in Farmingdale, Huntington and Sayville.
Evan Chen, one of the partners, explained that while this style of cooking is new to most Americans “in China, hot pot culture is 5,000 years old.” Since the restaurant opened, he has been working on the menu and with the servers to figure out the best way to instruct customers without overwhelming them with rules, and he determined, over the coming months, to hit on the right formula.
Potasia Hotpot & Noodle Bar is at 600 South Oyster Bay Rd., Hicksville, 516-939-2222.