Hot Pot, Shabu Shabu, Whatever You Call It, It’s Delicious

I try to make a point to take my office out to lunch once a week.  I figure that I can’t work them to death making phone calls, cyberstalking and writing thank you letters without some kind of appreciation.  I remember my history lesson on Marie Antoinette!! 

Kirsten Dunst as the title character in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

I’m fortunate that we have a nice selection of restaurants in my neighborhood but I’m known to venture out into the ‘burbs when I’m feeling a craving.  There are times when I will drive out to Fair Oaks for Todai (for real sushi connoisseurs, this might be blasphemous!) – this trek is 23 miles each way; Annandale for Honeypig Korean BBQ and/or Bon Chon, Shilla – 14 miles each way so it’s completely evident that I will trek distances for a good meal.

Self service buffet at Todai (photo credit Ms J Hu)


11750 Fair OaksMall #135

Fairfax, VA, 22033

Honeypig Korean BBQ


7220 Columbia Pike

Annandale, Virginia 22003

Bon Chon chicken

Bon Chon

6653 Little River Turnpike, #H

Annandale, VA 22003

Shilla Bakery
Shilla Bakery
7039 Little River Turnpike

Annandale, VA 22003
Since I have a rotating staff (some individuals work on certain days), I try to alternate which group gets staff lunch.  Lately, work has been busy where I wait until Friday.  This week I planned for Wednesday, a day where I have the most staff in the office.  Instead, I moved it to Tuesday because I have one staffer, TL who hasn’t had the benefit of eating a lunch on my dime for the past few weeks. 

I try to take these staff lunches as an opportunity to actually talk to the staff.  Their directive as part of their jobs is to not initiate conversation or make eye contact with me.  OK, just kidding although not that far from the truth.  I sit on the phone A LOT on conference calls and when that happens, I usually can’t talk to anyone because I’m usually talking on the call.  We all sit at a big table w our laptops so they can hear me on the calls and no one can talk because I’m generally on speakerphone.  Just because the big table is my dining room doesn’t make it any less professional, right?!!  As a result, the lunches allow us to actually interact with one another like civilized people.  Instead of the usual scenario:

ME on conference call: BLAH BLAH BLAH

Conference call: BLAH BLAH BLAH

Hang Up

ME after conference call: WTF are they doing??  Are they smoking crack??

ME mumbling to myself as I try to craft a semi-professional email in response to the conference call.


So you can see WHY they don’t initiate conversation or make eye contact.  I’m generally on a rager.

That’s why staff lunch is soooo important!

Back to staffer TL.  He’s from China, studying at a US institution of higher learning and on a semester program with my office.  I had mentioned hot pot a few weeks earlier and he mentioned that he missed it.  So as a way to thank him for all of his hard work, we went to Mala Tang, a Sichuan hot pot restaurant in Arlington.  The 4 of us went to lunch and spent the entire time slurping up our meal.  No talking at lunch and no talking in the drive back because I think food coma had set in…..If you haven’t had hot pot, stop reading and go directly to Mala Tang.  Trust, you will enjoy it….TL from China thought it was good and us Asians are hard on ourselves.

Mala Tang
3434 Washington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

Accoutrements for the hot pot (bok choy, napa cabbage, and NY strip)

Mala (spicy) broth

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