A Hot Pot Revolution in West Michigan

West Michigan has embraced a new culinary trend with open arms – an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ and hot pot buffet. This unique dining experience, introduced by Crystal Chen, the owner of King Pot Inc., has quickly become a hit in the community.

Being a part of the Asian culture herself, Chen noticed the absence of hot pot dishes in various Asian restaurants in the area. Although Korean BBQ had gained popularity, Chen was surprised that the hot pot had not yet caught on in the local market. Determined to introduce the city to one of Asian culture’s oldest dishes, she launched King Pot, a restaurant that would change the culinary landscape of West Michigan.

The decision to establish King Pot in West Michigan was not accidental. Chen recognized the vast Asian community in the area, making it an ideal location for her concept. As expected, the response was overwhelming. People flocked to King Pot to experience the first-ever hot pot restaurant in West Michigan. Chen proudly shares that many customers returned multiple times in the first week alone.

Hot pot is a communal dining experience that originated in China hundreds of years ago. It involves gathering around a table with friends and family to share a single pot of broth. Diners add uncooked noodles, raw meat, vegetables, and seafood to the pot, cooking the ingredients to perfection. Each piece of cooked food is then dipped in a variety of flavorful sauces before being savored.

King Pot offers a diverse menu that allows customers to cook their own dishes at individual grills equipped on their tables. The extensive options include pork, squid, clams, lamb, brisket, beef tongue, shrimp, crab, mushrooms, tofu, eggs, potatoes, spinach, watercress, bok choy, corn, pumpkin, and seaweed, among others. Chen describes the experience as a joyful gathering, a celebration shared with loved ones.

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Chen’s memories of enjoying hot pot with her family during the Chinese New Year inspired her to create this unique dining experience. With King Pot, she aims to connect with the Asian community in West Michigan and share their vibrant culture.

King Pot, located in Kentwood, boasts a spacious seating area that can accommodate around 150-200 people. This venture marks Chen’s first full-fledged restaurant. Having moved to America from China 15 years ago, she found solace in the restaurant industry, as it provided her with employment opportunities. Over the past decade, she has honed her skills in various Thai and Korean restaurants, even venturing into the ice cream business at one point.

Owning and operating her own restaurant has been both challenging and exciting for Chen. As she diligently works on building a loyal customer base, she is thrilled to witness the positive response. The appreciation from customers brings her immense joy and fuels her passion for providing an exceptional dining experience.

While King Pot stands as the pioneer of hot pot restaurants in Grand Rapids, another hot pot joint, K-Pot, is set to open its doors on 28th Street as well. Despite the competition, Chen remains optimistic and confident in the success of her unique concept.

King Pot’s arrival has sparked a hot pot revolution in West Michigan, inviting locals to embark on a new culinary adventure. With its delightful array of flavors and the joy of communal dining, King Pot promises an unforgettable experience that celebrates Asian culture and brings people together.

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King Pot interior
Image: Interior of a Korean restaurant. Credit: Courtesy photo

King Pot exterior
Image: Exterior of a Korean restaurant with images of food on posters on the windows. Credit: Courtesy photo