Experience a New Way of Dining With These Cook Your Own Food Restaurants

Where we once wanted decent service and a phenomenal meal away from home, consumers and foodies alike are both veering toward a different type of unique dining experience. Now, instead of food and service being at or near the top of the list for your next night out, diners are digging into the experiential side of dining. From mystery meal cafes to laboratory restaurants featuring food right out of the movie Weird Science and even eating in the dark, the experiential is the new marker of excellence for what constitutes a hip or trendy restaurant.

Amongst these hip and trendy new experiential offerings are the “cook your own meal” restaurants that are springing up all over the East and West Coast (and many place between). We’ve come full circle in the dining world.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the most popular cook your own food restaurants in America.

Cook Your Own Food Restaurants

Hanjoo (Queens, NYC)


Photo: Food and Culture in NYC

New York is home to dozens of restaurants that allow you to cook your own food. One of the most popular is the Flushing, Queens darling, Hanjoo.

Hanjoo offers an extensive menu, but if you’re like the rest of us, you’re only interested in one thing – the pork. At Hanjoo the pork combination platter features a quartz slab that is erected right at your table and heated by a gas burner. The server will then bring you a plate of pork and instruct you to drop the sliced pork, slice-by-slice, into the hot crystal while watching it sizzle – and smelling that delicious aroma.

Once the fat drips down to the bottom (and covers the delicious kimchi), the pork is done, and it’s typically eaten a slice at a time before throwing on the next batch. It’s a truly amazing experience, and although it might be pricy, one combo platter is easily enough for two once you factor in the veggies, it’s not so terrible.

Be sure to check out the newer East Village location as well.

Dave’s BBQ & Grill (East Hollywood, Los Angeles)


Photo: Yelp

Flipping to the other coast, Dave’s BBQ & Grill offers another highly rated experiential dining restaurant. The food is sort of a BBQ meats Asian fusion sort of cuisine, and features a sort of no-frills atmosphere where the food is certainly the star.

While the ambiance is basic, Dave’s gets high marks for both the service, and the food.

Dave’s allows you to choose from a variety of meats (for $2.99 each) as well as veggies in order to cook in a sort of hot pot right on your table. If you’re new to hot pot cooking, the delightful servers – or even Dave himself – is right there to assist you. Basically, you’ll be choosing from meat or seafood options, cooking it in the hot pot in front of you, and noshing on some delicious meat and veggies as well as the complimentary soup and rice. As far as eating goes, you can enjoy the meat and veggies on their own, or add them to the rice, soup, or a combination of the above. The meal is yours to do what you want with.

If the meat is the star of the show, the sauces are easily the best supporting actor.  Try the fish balls, garlic shrimp, chicken or pork!

The Melting Pot


Photo: FSR Magazine

Since you can’t find cook your own food restaurants everywhere, I wanted to include The Melting Pot because it’s a chain and has locations nationwide.

The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant that allows you to cook your meat or vegetables at your table in a pot of broth or boiling water before dipping them in delicious sauces or cheeses. Veggie options are fairly standard (carrots, broccoli, etc.), and you’ll get to choose from your favorite “style” of cuisine upon which they’ll bring you additional fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses, and broths in which to dip.

For dessert, the fruit and chocolate dip is a show stealer, and although it’s simple in nature, the entire unique dining experience is one that’s fun, affordable, and great for groups.

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