Google announced last night that Hotpot friend recommendations are now showing on the main Google search results in the 7-pack. They are also showing in the local organic blended results and branded searches.
Google is working on social tools on a number of fronts more or less successfully. You can never count them out though when they are willing to bring the full weight of the front page of Google to the game.
It appears to me that eating, reviews and ratings are where they are really where they are making a stand and to do so they are driving traffic to Hotpot. Hotpot previously has been highlighted in Maps, Places and mobile.
What better way to incent Hotpot users than to show them, front and center, where their friends ate. What better way to create more Hotpot engagement and traffic than showing it on the front page of Google. Let the ego games begin.