Hot Kitchen, is a minimalist canteen in whitewashed brick and red beams, that serves Sichuan and some Northwestern Chinese dishes. The menu has an extensive array of traditional sounding dishes and a small American Chinese Food section; the NYTimes review from 2012 says there are 160-ish items on the menu.
The service at Hot Kitchen was pretty weak the night I went. I ordered some pan fried pork dumplings that never showed up, but the waiter kept stopping by the table and mentioning that he knew I ordered the dumplings. It also took forever to get the check when we were ready to leave.The Dumplings: Hot Kitchen serves; Pork Soup Dumplings Crabmeat and Pork Soup Dumplings, Sichuan Steamed Pork Buns, Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil, Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil, Crystal Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Dumplings, Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, Pan Fried Pork Dumplings, and Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings. The menu also lists Fried Little Buns, which sound like they might be Shanghai style buns but are actually small deep fried bread/sweet buns, served with a creamy sweet dipping sauce. We ordered the Pork Soup Dumplings and the Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil and the aforementioned no-show Pork Dumplings.
The Pork Soup Dumplings were decent and prepared well; none of the dumplings arrived with their wrappers broken or leaking. Each of the dumplings contained about a spoonful of somewhat thin pork soup, however the meat filling was tasty and had a great mouth feel. The main deficit with these soup dumplings was that the wrappers were too thick and were stodgy.
The Spicy Sichuan Dumplings with Red Oil are boiled, pork filled dumplings served in red chili oil sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds. The dumplings themselves were not spicy, just filled with a mild, finely minced pork. But the red chili oil sauce was sensational, it was lip and tongue tingling spicy but also sweet and smoky. These dumplings are worth a return visit, perhaps paired with the Sichuan Wontons with Red Oil.
The Location: Hot Kitchen is in New York City’s East Village neighborhood on 2nd Ave and 6th street. This area is replete with Polish and Ukrainian restaurants selling pierogies, Japanese Izakaya and hipster Chinese dumpling spots.