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The X Pot
Photograph: @nathanmedia

10 tips for dining at Chicago’s new high-tech hot pot restaurant

Expect robots, mountains of beef and billowing dry ice at pricey Vegas export The X Pot.

Zach Long
Emma Krupp
Written by
Zach Long
&
Emma Krupp
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Ready for an over-the-top hot pot dining experience? If you're a fan of dipping meat into hot broth and hyper-stimulation, you're likely the target audience for The X Pot, an Asian-American restaurant that opened its first location inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The Chicago outpost officially opened earlier this month, bringing robots, boiling pots of broth, presentations worth of Chicago fine dining and mountains of Wagyu beef to a space inside the Roosevelt Collection in the South Loop. 

We stopped by The X Pot to sample the Chef's Tasting Menu, an expensive marathon of a meal that incorporates some of the restaurant's most notable offerings (don't worry, an à la carte menu is also available). If you're hoping to try the Vegas-inspired hot pot dining experience for yourself, here are a few tips to keep in mind between bites.

Be prepared to eat a lot of Wagyu beef

Vegetarians beware, a meal at The X Pot is probably not for you. Like most hot pot restaurants, the menu here revolves around meat—specifically, thin slices of marbled Wagyu beef. The Chef’s Tasting menu includes the aptly-named Wagyu Feast, offering three different cuts of the beef for you to dunk in your broth, a Wagyu sandwich or bibimbap, as well as Wagyu meatballs and dumplings. Heck, the salad that opens the meal is topped with a dressing made with Wagyu drippings. Even if you’re a red meat fanatic, it’s a bit much.—Zach Long

The X Pot Wagyu beef
Photograph: @vegaseatthis

Add-ons to your meal add up quickly

Even after spending $128 per person on the Chef’s Tasting Menu, you’ll encounter some add-ons throughout The X Pot menu that feel like they should be included, but will actually bring up the total on your bill. For example, a visit to the sauce bar (where you’ll find additional veggies and various sauces that can be added to your broth) rings up at $4 per person. And the sashimi and Himalayan salt block grill loaded with additional Wagyu bites that’s listed on the Chef’s Tasting Menu adds another $28 per person to your bill. Pay close attention, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.—ZL

Expect some showy presentations

True to its Vegas roots, The X Pot puts on a show throughout your meal—though that show consists primarily of dry ice clouds, and lots of them. An early course dish of roasted duck arrives nestled in a swan-shaped cracker surrounded by plumes of dry ice; if you opt for the Wagyu Feast later in the meal, the metal cow vessel that holds your chunks of wagyu is likewise swathed in clouds, which drift across the table as your server griddles each morsel on a slab of sizzling salt block.—Emma Krupp

Choose your broth carefully

You have a variety of broth options to choose from at The X Pot, including chicken-, beef-, mushroom- and lobster-based broths. Just think carefully about what you’ll be cooking in them, because—in my experience—some broths didn’t pair well with certain proteins. I went with the The X Pot Special Pot, a beef-based broth infused with some spice that wasn’t ideal for cooking seafood in (Emma’s Golden Chicken Pot was a better match for lobster and shrimp). You might want to consult your server to find out which broths work best with Wagyu, seafood or lamb—or you might want to order a couple of broths so that you have options.ZL

The X Pot robots
Photograph: Courtesy The X Pot

Temper your robot server expectations

Maybe someday we’ll crack the code for robot servers, and maybe there’s a future in which industrious little automatons will ferry food out to diners all by themselves. That day has not yet arrived at The X Pot, where our robot servers—glitchy and inclined to run into chairs— needed to be guided to the table by human staffers, such that they resembled something more like a motorized trolley with a blinking robotic visage. This could be a result of early-stage growing pains for the restaurant (the Vegas robots seem to work fine) but don’t expect this futuristic feature to feel quite as seamless as you may have imagined.—EK

Don’t be afraid to ask for cooking advice

With so many different types and cuts of meat and seafood hitting your table, it can be difficult to keep track of how long you should be cooking each of the items in your pot of boiling broth. After all, you probably don’t want to bite into a piece of barely-cooked shrimp or have to chew on an over-cooked chunk of steak. Our waiter listed cooking times whenever he dropped off new dishes, but we had to ask him to repeat the information a couple of times—he was happy to help, and we were able to avoid overcooked proteins.ZL

Try not to get distracted by the decor

If all that dry ice doesn’t sate your appetite for visual spectacle, the restaurant’s flashing decor, presented via a strip of screens running along the walls, offer a churning array of animated graphics to keep you entertained throughout the meal (and potentially on the brink of migraine, if you’re of a similarly weak constitution as I am). There’s not much point to these displays other than to signal a certain Vegas-y milieu, but I did find myself staring at them, zombie-like, in between courses of meat.EK

The X Pot 5D room
Photograph: @nathanmedia

Don’t expect to dine in the 5D room… yet.

Tucked into the back of the restaurant is The X Pot’s much-touted 5D Experience room, an immersive dining area that incorporates 360-degree animated light projections and accompanying soundscapes into your meal (sort of like an "Immersive Van Gogh" that you can dine inside of). The 5D Experience, which will be available for private parties only, isn’t accepting bookings yet, so keep an eye out for the launch in coming weeks.—EK

You might want to skip the seafood

This could be a matter of personal preference, but I wasn’t blown away by the seafood offerings at The X Pot. The quality of the shrimp, lobster and scallops is perfectly fine, but dunking a piece of lobster into a steaming pot of broth didn’t seem like the best way to cook it (even with guidance on cooking times provided by our server). If I’m going to splurge on seafood, I’d rather have it expertly-prepared instead of simply hoping that I pull a chunk of shrimp out of the hot pot in an appetizing state.—ZL

Looking for a bargain? Try the Wagyu Feast.

OK, “bargain” is probably too strong of a word for a place as pricey as The X Pot. But if you want to experience what restaurant does best without spending several hundred dollars, the Wagyu Feast is likely your best option. It’s $98 for two people ($188 for a party of four) and includes no less than eight different cuts of beef for you to dunk in your broth (sold separately, for between $6 to $26 per pot). You’ll miss out on many of the flashy dishes included in the Chef’s Tasting Menu, but you can spend some of the extra dough on appetizers or a trip to the sauce bar.—ZL

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