I never noticed what used to be above Playground and Taitoon Karaoke, two places that are popular with a late-night Thai crowd getting off work at other restaurants. Now there is a small neon sign with the words "jeaw hon" written in Thai, a type of hot pot popular in Thailand that uses broths made fiery with the spices from Isaan, the northeast of the country that is famous for its spicy foods.
Walking up the stairs from the street to this second level shop, you already get a sense that whatever happens inside, it is going to be fun. Neon and bright colors are generously used, and piles of funny Thai puns found on truck bumper stickers are mounted to the walls.
Every diner here starts with a 90 minute buffet that costs $12.99 and includes lots of vegetables and various meat balls. Prices start to rise when you order meats and seafoods, which will be necessary to round out your meals. Including one drink each, our group of five ended with a bill of $35/person.
The interior of the place seems designed to match these bumper stickers, with each set of doors and shutters a different bright color, while the fabric of the benches changes every foot or so. Here are some shots to get the feel:
They will bring out most of the food just after your broths come, so deciding what to put in and when is completely up to the diners. As with most hot pot outings, we dumped most of it in immediately and went fishing afterwards.
Two broths come in your hot pot, below on the left is the jeaw hon, the Isaan style the place is named for, and on the right is tom zabb, which is sour and even more spicy. No relief to be found on either side of this hot pot.
Each diner has unlimited refills on their sauces, from left to right a spicy seafood dip, nam jim jaew, and sukiyaki sauce. All three are quite good, while combining the seafood sauce and sukiyaki, the only non-spicy option, made for my favorite flavors.
Truth be told, the hot pot will not change your life. But coming here for the experience is reason enough. It is a lot of fun, and Thais from the area have already made it a busy spot even on a Monday night. The broths have room for improvement and the cuts of meat could be nicer, but there should be time for these things to get better. Even so, a night here with friends is a great decision.