New in town

Korean-style do-it-yourself dining spot already a hit in Lansing


A communal dining experience that’s sweeping the nation has made its way to Lansing.

KPOT Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, a New York-based chain with more than 70 locations across the country, opened May 20 near the Lansing Mall. The new eateryjoins three Michigan restaurants in Grand Rapids, Novi and Sterling Heights, with three more coming soon in Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills and Taylor.

The Lansing location has been in the works for more than a year, manager Rainie Chen said. Last spring, KPOT’s corporate office acquired a 6,350-square-foot space that was previously occupied by Buddy’s Pizza from June 2020 to September 2022. It took about a year to finish renovations.

The concept is simple. Once seated, guests can choose between Korean barbecue or hot pot. In both cases, the wait staff will bring out meat and vegetables that can be cooked on a communal barbecue grill or in a pot of boiling broth in the middle of the table.

“It’s all you can eat, so you can get as much as you want from the menu,” Chen explained. “For lunch, it’s $20.99, and dinner is $30.99. If you want to do both barbecue and hot pot, it’s only $5 extra.”

The selection of entree ingredients includes pork, brisket, lamb, chicken, ribeye, seafood, vegetables, tofu, dumplings, rice and ramen-style noodles. Chen’s favorite item is bulgogi, thin, marinated slices of beef, chicken or pork. She described it as “one of the ‘must do’ foods for a Korean barbecue.”

Hot-pot customers can choose from eight different broths, including Thai tom yum, Szechuan spicy, Korean seafood, Healthy Herbs, Japanese miso, tomato, mushroom and a gluten-free option.

There’s also a buffet stocked with sauces, fruits, vegetables, desserts and more.

“From our sauce bar and our dessert bar, we have different options that we rotate every week,” Chen said.

Because the food is prepared at the table, KPOT doesn’t offer take-out . Due to its all-you-can-eat concept, it also charges $13.99 per pound for wasted food.

“Some people will abuse food, so we try to limit that,” Chen said.

So far, the reception from guests has been outstanding, Chen noted. Even with 35 tables and 30 staff members, the restaurant gets busy enough on weekends that she recommends planning on a 45-minute wait time. There are no reservations.

While the dining experience was polished to meet franchise standards before the restaurant opened, Chen added that it’s still waiting on one more key element.

“We’re getting our liquor license soon. We’re still working on that, but most people, especially if they’re Korean, want soju with their meal,” she said, referring to a grain-based spirit popular in Korea.


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