Monday, April 15, 2024

Top Pot Toledo: A Different Kind of Dining

Top Pot Korean Barbecue is a recently opened, unique dining option on Glendale Avenue, between Detroit and Byrne. The concept is straightforward: an adventure in eating through an opportunity to share both the preparation and the enjoyment of a meal with your table mates.

You are the chef

The restaurant, in a former Bob Evans location, is configured with a number of booths and tables throughout the dining room, as well as a front sunroom seating area. Each table is equipped with an infrared convection heating element at each dining seat.  As well, the center of each table holds a Korean barbecue burner, a metal plate which is heated and surrounded by exhaust vents. The barbecue device, which provides a smoky richness to the food, is used to cook a variety of meats and vegetables selected by the diner and brought to the table by your server. The infrared heating element holds a pot of simmering soup stock, with a number of selections of types to pick from. Diners cook ingredients, including thinly sliced meats, tofu, seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, wontons and dumplings, in the boiling broth.

Straightforward menu concept

The concept is straightforward. There is no carry out or delivery, eat in dining is the standard with a choice of hot pot or barbecue cooking (if only one option is selected the cost is $29.99 per person/children are $11.99), or you can select both ($34.99 per person/children $13.99). Also, everyone at the table is requested to order the same preparation option, this deters sharing among tablemates. The prices may seem steep, however, the ingredients are unlimited – that is all you can eat – and freshly prepared for your dining experience.

Service and staff

The staff members were all extremely pleasant and outgoing. Due to the diner-involved cooking, they need to explain quite a bit to newcomers about how the process works, but they do a very good job of it and are omnipresent with refills, inquiries about additional food orders and generally making sure the guests are accommodated.

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The tables around us were filled with diners, who were happy and visiting with each other. A birthday celebration at an adjacent table brought a costumed bear type character (reminiscent of the mascot for the Beijing Olympics) to sing with the rest of the waitstaff. This is not the type of place to go for a quiet meal. Rather, it provides an experience that requires some thought and concentration along with some work, beyond what is generally expected from a dining out experience.

Helpful ideas: cooking time, cooking order, bbq vs hot pot 

We could have used a little more coaching on the cooking. There is posted signage at the entrance with some cooking tips. After we had cooked and eaten our meal, we studied it a little more closely when leaving. The timing for cooking the vegetables, especially the hardier ones like sweet potato or pumpkin, and protein, the seafood versus the Angus steak. Another visit to Top Pot should move us beyond the competent and into expert range for preparing the food.

Fun and interactive 

The dining experience was fun, interactive and certainly encouraged engagement, united by a common task, with our tablemates. The restaurant is extremely clean and very pleasant, with a bit of bustle. The menu suggests a two hour limit for dining, although we took our time and were done well before that. While the “all you can eat” format may lead some to overindulge, it does encourage and allow the sampling of a variety of foods and ingredients in unique and self-directed preparation. Top Pot and Korean barbecue is on top of our list for a return visit.

3025 Glendale Ave. 


Sun-Th 11:30am – 9:30pm (last seating)

Fri-Sat  11:30am – 10:30pm (last seating)

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