Boiling Point sure to fire up fans of hot Asian soup

Boiling Point: More than a catchy name, it describes what arrives on your plate at this chain of Taiwanese soup restaurants.

Soups come in a hefty bowl. Servers light a flame underneath, keeping the contents at a hot spring-like churn. A feast cooks before your eyes.

Hence the motto: Mini wok on a box, that’s Boiling Point.

Boiling Point had a soft opening at its Edmonds location in May, with a grand opening in July. It’s the chain’s 17th restaurant.

Patrons walk into THE building at the busy intersection of Highway 99 and 220th Street SW to a clean interior with a sleek, minimalist appeal.

The menu is orderly. It lists 10 dishes: a seafood and tofu soup, and other choices featuring lamb, beef, curry fishballs or tomato and vegetables. Further options are prepared in Taiwanese, Thai and Japanese styles.

On my first visit to Boiling Point in Edmonds, I ordered Korean kimchi. I found it delectable.

Just staring into the warm fog steaming up from the plate was a savory experience in itself. And the sliced pork was a tad rare, so I watched it simmer away — isn’t that the, er, point?

Then I got to eating.

The food was tasty, salty and protein-rich. I slurped away. My chopsticks shoveled up meat and vermicelli noodles, clams, fish balls and tofu. An egg floated on top along with other soon-to-be-savored objects.

The meal wasn’t without challenges for this Boiling Point newcomer.

The bowl’s contents got hotter as the gas flame underneath flickered away. I worried I might be in for a trip to the emergency department at nearby Swedish Edmonds hospital if I didn’t improve my technique. But how? With each bite so appealing, I couldn’t exactly stop.

I scanned the table in search of solutions. Perhaps I could ladle the contents into the smaller rice bowl that came with the soup? That felt awkward. Peering under my bowl, the on-off switch I hoped to find by the flame didn’t exist.

A waitress must have noticed my distress. She offered to put out the flame by tapping it with a small metal plate. Problem solved. I’ll remember that for next time.

The temperature travail wasn’t my only blooper. I also struggled with the plastic covering on the iced green tea that came with the meal (there’s also a choice of black tea). How do you peel off this dang thing? Again, a waitress to the rescue. It doesn’t peel off — you pierce the plastic with a straw. Oh.

A nod is due to the patient staff who must have found my inexperience amusing, but didn’t let on.

My boss, who is from California and wiser in the ways of Asian soup restaurants than I, suggested a return trip to try something more adventurous: the House Special.

This dish may be best left to more adventurous palates. Ingredients include pork intestine, pork blood cake, fermented tofu (known as “stinky tofu”), quail egg, kamaboko (a type of cured fish paste), clam and enoki mushroom, along with a few veggies.

Spiciness is measured from zero to four chili peppers, with four described as “flaming spicy.” I ordered three and survived the first meal. When I ordered two, on the return trip, I craved more heat but found the desired additives on my table.

The first Boiling Point opened in Hacienda Heights, California, in 2004. A dozen locations are now open in Southern California. The first outside the Golden State opened in Seattle in 2008. Other Washington Boiling Point restaurants are in Bellevue and Redmond. They have expanded to British Columbia, too.

Most dishes cost $11.99 for lunch, with a bowl of rice and tea included. The price is $12.99 for dinner with rice. A few soups cost three bucks more.

Some words of caution for Boiling Point virgins:

Don’t eat here without an appetite. Portions are hearty. A diner who’s inclined to nibble will have enough leftovers (or throw-aways) to feed an extended family.

Steer clear if Asian hot soups aren’t your thing. That’s what this place does.

Finicky eaters beware: Ingredients in several dishes might strike a hamburger- and hot dog-eating suburbanite as a tad too exotic, be it pork intestine or pork blood rice cake.

And remember: If your soup gets too hot, ask a server to turn off the flame.

Boiling Point

22001 Highway 99, suite 100

Edmonds, WA 98026

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Phone: 425-673-7101

Website: www.bpgroupusa.com

Menu: Hot soups cost $11.99 for lunch, with a bowl of rice and ice tea included. The price is $12.99 for dinner with rice. Three soups — the Taiwanese, Japanese miso and Thai flavor hot soups — cost $14.99 for lunch and $15.99 for dinner.

Desserts include snow cubes, for 75 cents each, and macaron ice cream, for $4.50.

Alcohol: None

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