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Originally published Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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Gourmet Noodle Bowl: a hot spot for all-you-can-eat hot pot

At Gourmet Noodle Bowl in the Chinatown International District, just about every customer comes for the all-you-can-eat hot pot featuring endless plates of pork, chicken, beef, veggies and noodles. It's one of the best in the Seattle area.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Gourmet Noodle Bowl

Chinese

707 Eighth Ave. S., Seattle206-264-8899

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Monday; closed Tuesday

Etc: Credit cards accepted; no obstacles to access; street parking; beer and wine

Prices: $$

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Gourmet Noodle Bowl could save money by not printing those fancy pink menus on heavy stock. I've yet to see anyone reach for a menu. Just about every customer who walks through the door has one dish in mind: the all-you-can-eat hot pot ($15.95) featuring endless plates of pork, chicken, beef, veggies and noodles.

The menu: If you insist on seeing it, the menu contains a little bit of everything, focusing mostly on Chinese and Taiwanese cuisines — appetizers (most priced around $3.50-$8.50) such as pot stickers and pig tripe; chow mein, noodles and rice dishes (about $5.50-$9.95). But the hot-pot picture on the menu cover tells you all you need to know.

What to write home about: The hot-pot broth comes in spicy, chicken, barbecue or curry. Choose one broth, or get smaller portions of two broths. Most popular are the spicy broth with pork intestines and the chicken broth with deep-fried tofu and fish balls, though the latter was too delicate to stand up to the meat and sauces.

An order comes with a huge plate of meat, like a giant party platter of cold cuts. The tender beef was the best cut. There's a plate of greens, tofu, udon and vermicelli noodles. Ask for more of the chewy udon, a nice complement to the meat and broth.

You also get garlic, cilantro and scallions to punch up the broth and some peanut paste for dipping.

Popular with the young crowd is the pork-belly bun ($3.50), which includes a generous slab of fatty pork with a crunchy sprinkle of peanuts.

What to skip: The dough in the chicken-and-leek dumplings ($3.50) overwhelms the fillings.

The setting: It's an unassuming, minimalist décor, but cleaner than most of the old-school Chinatown International District haunts and dim-sum joints. Service can be slow.

Summing up: Two orders of all-you-can-eat hot pots, a pork-belly bun, an order of dumplings and a Thai iced tea ($2.50) totaled $45.35. For two, the hot pots alone were enough. It's one of the best hot pots in the Seattle area, though largely unknown outside of the Chinese community since it sits on the edge of the Chinatown ID.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.

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