As the weather begins to cool, I begin to think about hot pot. This doesn’t mean the kind that we have in England with stewed meat (often lamb) and vegetables in a dish, topped with thinly sliced potatoes, and roasted in the oven. No, this mean lip-smackingly spicy hot pot, or sour cabbage hot pot, or healthy Chinese medicine hot pot, or just a plain broth hot pot.
This branch is big inside, we got here earlier. But, by the time we left at like 13:00, no spare tables were to be found, and people were waiting outside to go in and eat.
Each table comes equipped with a hot plate, on which the hot pot will be placed. Cutlery is provided and extra is provided by a drawer that can be pulled out from under the table.
A few rules for the restaurant/ordering:
Each person must pay $120 towards the pot itself.
Each table must reach a minimum limit of $850.
Tofu and duck blood are allowed to be continually refilled.
The menu is vast, so feel free to click on the pictures and view for yourself.
We opted for the half and half hot pot, the left side being Chinese medicine flavour and the right side being spicy. What I like about this pot, is that the small compartment you see toward the top. That section encases all of the spices, but has holes in its right wall, allowing them to seep into the broth and intensify the flavour. But, it means that you don’t get a nasty crunch of some unwanted spice as you munch down on a beautiful piece of tofu.
The Chinese medicine pot is packed with goji berries, red dates, ginseng, and a whole host of other herbal ingredients.
You get a couple of accompaniments here, one being some edamame beans which you shell and eat. And the other being some bamboo shoots with a spicy sauce. Nice enough.
You also get a bowl of this incredible sauce mix, a bowl of rice per person, and a sachet of sesame sauce to accompany any pork you may order.
They recommended that you add a quarter spoon of the spicy broth, and a quarter spoon of the Chinese medicine broth for a more balanced sauce, then stir. If you want it spicier, then less Chinese medicine broth and more of the spicy broth.
You also get this spice sensation glass noodle and peanut dish. It looks impossibly hot, and whilst it is pretty hot, it isn’t obscene. It’s quite strange, actually, as it looks almost inedible with the sheer amount of chilli and oil.
There aren’t many noodles in there, truth be told, but it packs a deliciously well balanced and spicy flavour. The spice is fragrant, acidic, and deep – happy.
I even drained off some of the oil and added the spicy peanuts on top of my rice – recommend! I just couldn’t let these peanuts go to waste.
Let’s talk about this ingredient for a moment – congealed ducks blood. Now, anything with the word ‘congealed’ inside, immediately sounds rancid. Does ‘jellied’ make it sound any better? With reference to ducks blood, perhaps not… Are you a lover, or are you a hater? Or are you one of those that voices opinion without even trying it?
Me, personally, I’m a lover.
Fried dough sticks
It seems absurd to be dipping what is essentially a stale dough stick into a spicy hot pot. But, hold your tongue! Don’t say that until you have tried it. Dip it for a short time to remain crunchy, a longer time to be soft, or be careful and get it perfectly in the middle between soft and crunchy. The result? Try it, and let me know (you won’t regret it).
One thing that I did think, though, is that for 2 people, this portion is too big. Perhaps the restaurant could separate into a small and a large portion size. This would be ideal for 4 people, but too much for 2.
Bean curd sheets
Often you get the deep fried bean curd skin at these hot pot places. It leaks oil and grease into the pot, changes the flavour of the broth, and tastes horrible. This, however, is fresh tofu skin that takes on the flavour from the broth. It is chewy, tasty, and I would recommend it.
shū cài pīn pán
Not the most elaborate or varied vegetable selection. But, I guess, it did the job. Next time: order some taro.
Braised Food Selection
lǔ wèi pīn pán
A selection of braised food. This is stomach – chewy with lots of texture. Definitely a scary dish to order in a Western country, but worth trying.
Intestine – flavour and texture, too. A stronger meat flavour with this one.
Tendon. Tendon is strange, it has a jellied part to it, but also a meaty part. It both has good flavour in itself, but it also manages to impart good flavours into the broth.
Pork belly strips
Jiànkāng wǔ huā zhūròu
Apparently this is the ‘healthy’ meat option, with 健康 meaning ‘healthy’ in Chinese. The pork was OK, but I wouldn’t rush back for it.
Prime Angus boneless short rib meat
dǐng jí ān gé sī wú gǔ niú xiǎo pái
In comparison, the beef was much better. And when dipped in the sauce – killer!
You get an ice cream to finish. You have a choice of two. This was the mango…
I’d say the mango was the more suitable of the two, having just eaten a spicy hot pot I kind of want something fruity to calm my mouth down a little.
And this the chocolate strawberry.
For two people, it ain’t cheap. But, it will leave you more than full enough to not want an evening meal – we just had a bowl of fruit each for our evening meal.
Every day 11:30 – 01:30
02 2515 2222
No. 112, ChangAn East Road, Section 2, ZhongShan District, Taipei City