Open for two years now, “Liuyishou” serves Chongqing style Chinese hot pot with a whole lot of fun. They are especially known for their elevated spicy hot pot experience, and after this post, you will know them for a lot more.
This isn’t all you can eat hot pot, you simply order as you go. But I can guarantee all of it is quality, with plenty of value from the self serve cold appetizer and sauce bar, which only costs you $2.50 for unlimited dish refills.
They have three locations, and today we were at the Robson one for dinner. And this, my first visit with them coincided with a special event. Sunday, February 26 to March 2, 2018 is “Liuyishou Hotpot Week”. They are inviting all customers across Canada (they have other locations out East) to enjoy a celebratory Chinese New Year themed dinner. A set dinner for a pair of two, or a group of four. With the menu for Vacnouverites also including beer pairings, a West Coast exclusive presented by “Vancouver Gourmet Tours”. “Liuyishou” is working with “Red Truck Brewery” to present their diners with the perfect local craft beer, ideal in complementing their special hotpot broth. Your options are “Red Truck’s” Lager, Dark Lager, or IPA.
This holiday dinner special is only available from 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm, daily. The dinner set for 2 is $68, we got the set for 4 at $120. And upon reflection it is a steal at $30 per person. During this promotion, access to the sauce bar is included in the cost, along with desserts, appetizers, and the afore mentioned beer pairings. This, along with your typical hot pot ingredient line up. You have a few choices in the otherwise pre set menu. You are able to select a few here and a few there from an assortment of seafood, vegetables, and meats to cook in your hot pot. Everything normally available on their regular menu, carefully curated for you here.
The sauce bar is reason enough for me to come back. Often times, the issue with hot pot is that everything is cooked in the same broth and it starts tasting the same. Or restaurants don’t give you enough sauce for multiple courses, and then charge you separately for every one topping our drizzle you want to add on. Here, one fee gives you unlimited access. With over 29 different dry and wet ingredients to mix and match to your delight. The combinations and their flavour possibilities are endless, therefore each bite, each visit, and all the flavours found within can be too. Soy bean power, chilli powder, peanuts, preserved turnip, sesame seeds, and cumin; to name a few of the dry ones. Soy sauce, chilli sauce, seafood sauce, oyster sauce, bean curd paste, and spiced vinegar; to name a few liquids. And if you are having difficulty mixing and matching, your place mat offers suggestions.
Unfortunately you cannot just walk in and order this special like a combo, you must purchase tickets and make a reservation in advance, citing your claimed holiday special ticket(s) in order to partake. This ticket price does not include gratuity, so please keep that in mind when you are settling up. Once again, at $30 per person for all the food below, it is well worth your time and money.
To get your tickets visit the link:
And after you purchased your tickets, you are automatically entered in a draw to win a VIP tour of the “Red Truck Brewing’s” factory. And I am sure beer tasting is part of that VIP experience.
We came on time for our designated dinner, but were asked to wait as our table settled up and cleared. During this time spent in their foyer, we were able to sit on their cushioned benches, and check off the options we were given for our set menu. And as we did that, we were offered paper cups of their hot barley tea. It was nice to be given such consideration, and to be told about its health benefits.
Just around the corner, the restaurant is divided into rows. Three rows of booths, and a fourth row of tables that can be pushed together to form a larger seating. Each with its own ventilation system and sprinklers for safety precautions. Along the walls each table is hung with a string of garlic bulbs and red chilli peppers. They compliment the decorative light fixtures that strongly resemble giant, orange, glowing garlic bulbs.
By the time we were seated, we already knew what we were going to order. We submitted our special menu sheet with all the appropriate boxes checked off. You start by choosing two out of the three following soup bases. One for each side of your split pot. It is worth noting thst this is one of the deepest hot pot, pots that I had the pleasure of fishing out of. We went with their signature “House spicy soup base”, which delivers on its promise of heat in taste and colour. And the “special pork rib”, for those like myself who can’t take the heat.
If and when available, you also have the option of adding on one of their signature, photogenic cattle shaped soup bases. It is their mascot cow (the same one that greeted you outside the door as your entered. His image was mounded from processed butter, and he stood in the pot until he had no more feet to stand on. Very quickly he was left to melt as the broth boiled and thickened thanks to him.
Next you choose three from the list of “Special food select”. We went for the deep fried pork, sliced lotus root, and “Kung fu” potato slices. The first of our selection was already cooked, the other two required a boiling dip in broth.
The deep fried pork, was exactly as its name read. Crispy strips of pork dipped into chilli flakes and powder. It quickly became our appetizer as we waited for our hot pot to boil before we could add any of the ingredients that were quickly accumulating.
Then you choose four proteins out of eight. We went for their marbled beef slices, pork belly slices, house special shrimp paste, and handmade beef balls. I really appreciated all the effort they put into presentation, which added so much value and prestige to our meal.
We exercised the option to have one of the servers assist us in doling out the shrimp paste. It came moulded into hearts and using a spoon he scoop them into ball, before plopped them into to broth to boil solid. Seeing as I like the texture of the seafood and meat balls common at hot pot, I enjoyed this one a fair bit.
For vegetables you simply got their prearrange platters with four different kinds of leafy greens. I much preferred the mixed mushroom platter that you also got. This included over six different types of mushrooms like oyster, button, enoki, and black fungus. Both large wooden trays were delivered to our table, and left on a three tiered rack at the end of it. This gave us the ability to store excess plates as our table quickly lost real estate.
Next you get a choice of two starches. We went with the deep fried buns with condense milk for dipping, and noodles for cooking for our two options. The third option is egg fried rice. Crispy buns, slightly salted, dipped into a thick sweet gravy of milk. They served as a great salty and sweet mid meal break.
You also get the chef’s recommended “glutinous rice cakes” served with a sugar syrup dip. This too can go either way between side dish and dessert. At this point I am re-acknowledging how great of a deal this is. $30 for all these extra sides and drinks! And as I mentioned earlier, drinks are one of three “Red Truck” beers for each person, or plum juice for those who don’t drink.
For desert everyone gets their own “bing fen” cold jelly. A bowl of gelatine in cane syrup with chopped up honey dew chunks and raisins. It made for a great way to cleanse oneself from the heavy meal before.
From here we added on a few extras seeings as our group was actually a quintet and the set menu above is only for four. We went for unique items you can’t normally find on any other menu, and items I have never had in hot pot.
Quail eggs are a favourite of mine, and not many places offer it for hot pot. It’s nice to have an egg that you can completely and easily pop into your mouth.
“Ox throat slices” (artery) is a new one for me. They looked like calamari rings, but with a texture all their own. Rubbery like chewy squid, but grainy and gritty like cartilage. Though ultimately this is a texture like no other, and if you can’t get over it, you won’t be able to appreciate it.
We also added on an order of braised spicy frog legs. Not only are frog legs not common on most menus, but I have never seen it offered in hot pot before. It was full of flavour once cooked. And like they say, it tastes like chicken with its tender, white meat similarities.
And seeing a photo of it advertised at the end of our table, I couldn’t go without ordering their “meat Barbie” (I am calling it this, because I am unable to read their Chinese sign). This is a plastic doll with thin slices of angus beef draped over her and a head of cabbage (used as the base of the dress), in order to have her look like she is wearing a meat dress a la Lady Gaga. The intended serving includes a bevy of seafood at the base of her gown for $50. Muscles, shrimp, clams, tuna, and cuttlefish. However, we were getting full and I didn’t want to commit to that price. So the kitchen was able to do a substitution and give us all meat for half the cost. Novelty, shock factor, and marketing aside; the meat was good. A great cut that cooked up deliciously. My regret was waiting to the end to order this, and not being able to enjoy it on an emptier stomach. We all walked out incredibly full.
Oh and your meal also comes with bibs to keep red splashes from ruining your clothes. A plastic cover that reads you love “Liuyishou Hotpot”. I have also never been given a bib for hot pot before, but considering you are cooking at your table, you ought to be.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If they keep thinking out side the box with their specials like this, I will no doubt be back. Where else can you find beer pairings, meat Barbie, and the tools necessary for being your own sauce boss? Don’t deny your cravings.
For more information on this event, visit the link below.