When it comes to a DIY platter of food at a restaurant, insecurity can overwhelm even the seasoned cook. Do I cook it all at once? For how long?

This makes Sing’s Noodle, a hot pot joint in Chinatown, as much an adventure as a great value. For $18.99, you get to choose one of four broths (chicken, Chinese herb, satay, or Sichuan) and any of 70 all-you-can-eat items—from noodles to veggies to proteins—to cook in it. (If you must have king crab legs and lobster, be prepared to leave the budget zone.)

The lip-tingling Sichuan cauldron delivers the biggest punch, and most everything cooks quickly, so here are some timing tips: Give spinach leaves and enoki mushrooms a flash dunk, thinly sliced pork loin 30 seconds, head-on shrimp two minutes, and hunks of free-range chicken up to five minutes; simmer the ropy udon noodles to your desired chewiness. Take your server’s dipping-sauce advice.

Warning: A roomful of steaming pots can fog your glasses. Stick to contacts if you can. 2171 S. China Pl., 312-225-2882