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Category: hotpot Page 1 of 2

Liu Yi Shou Hot Pot Restaurant

Despite the seasons, Chinese-style hot pot tends to be a consistently popular destination for those wanting a little more involvement in their meal. You cook up your own dinner, customizing it from which broth base you use to what ingredients you put in. And at “Liu Yi Shou” they offer a few more options to make your experience even more interactive and personalized.

For the tutorial on how to maximize your hot pot experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

First “Liu Yi Shou” has happy hour, plenty of wine and beer on special. I suggest sharing a pitcher with your friends. With all the spicy and flavourful ingredients, beer makes for a great in between sipper. They also have plenty of can sodas and fruit pops available, and even coconut water you drink right out of the fruit. So start with this as you explore their very extensive menu.

And while you work out your order, or wait for it to come and boil, you can start nibbling on their “Cheese fondue”. This is a new menu item, and one that you don’t often see at a hot pot restaurant. Not just melted cheese, but their fondue is mozzarella flavoured with tomato. It is served with a board of hot dogs, celery, and chicken wings for dipping into. I really liked the flavour of the cheese dip, it had a comforting, gooey tomato soup feel to it. But despite the lit tea light under the individual fondue bowl, it does cool quick. Although it doesn’t congeal, so you can come back to what you don’t finish in between your hot pot, as a flavour changer.

You can also order their popular marinade appetizer dish. This is an assorted platter of quail eggs, bean curd, pig’s ear, and pork hoc marinated in a soy sauce blend. It is enjoyed cold or at room temperature. This you eat more for its textures of squishy, spongy, chewy, and rubbery.

Today I was dining with hot pot experts and they made sure to order the most unique of all the option, plenty of which are exclusive to “Liu Yi Shou”, starting with their tri-soup pot. You can enjoy 3 different flavours of broth, altogether in one pot. Ideal for those who get tired of a one flavour boil; or for those who can’t take their food spicy, dining with those who only like it spicy.

We had the chicken with coconut soup base, the wild mushroom soup base with Chinese herbs, and the spicy and numbing hot pot. The latter was extra special, it came with a block of tallow shaped like their cow mascot. “Tallow” is saturated beef fat, it is higher in calories than butter, but healthier and better tasting! The hotter it got, the quicker he melted, and soon he was face first in a pool of chilli and peppercorns. Not only does this make the soup more indulgent, it also help to cut into some of that hot, hot heat. And if you order the chicken and coconut soup base, you get a plate of raw chicken complimentary, to cook within it.

In an effort to save table space, our platter of finely sliced lamb and beef is served on a wooden ring, that fits perfectly around our hot pot. From here it is easy to pick up a slice and dunk it into any broth. Both cook up relatively quick, and after 5 dunks you are ready to eat it.

But as waited for all the soup broths to boil, we made our way to the back of the restaurant, to their help yourself sauce bar. At some hot pot places I find I get bored of the taste, that everything is boiled up the same, and has only the one flavour throughout. Here, you can customize your own sauces and curate the flavour, so that anything you don’t like is on you. Mix and match from sauces and oils like spiced vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, satay sauce, mushroom paste, and bean curd paste, etc. Toss in some minced and chopped dry ingredients like sugar, green onion, toasted soy bean, mashed garlic, preserved turnip and peanuts; for texture and chew.

And while we were busy mixing and creating to our heart’s content all our ordered ingredients began arriving one platter after another. The beautifully plated, raw food comes out quick here.

A wooden box of leafy greens and various mushrooms.

Fish paste moulded into two hearts. This you scoop and drop into the broth for it to boil up and harden into a solid ball.

A platter of shrimp, cuttlefish, pork and beef, pre-formed balls.

An interesting one were these tubes of bean curd that you dip into the pot for 3 seconds. They act like sponges, soaking in the broth and offering a distinct ribbed chew.

For the adventurous you can order a platter of intestines and organ meats, for a more traditional hot pot experience. Pig’s blood, beef tripe, ox aorta, and goose intestine. I would also consider this, one that you order more for its textures, each with its own unique chew or gelatin-like consistency. The aorta had the same chew as squid rings, the tripe was so tender and easy to bite into, the intestine required more jaw work; and the savoury pigs blood had the texture of pudding and jello combined.

But the highlight and feature of our meal was definitely “meat Barbie”. A Barbie doll repurposed. She was dressed in strips of angus beef that you peel of her torso or cabbage base and add into your soup. At her feet is a garden of raw seafood. Shrimp in shell, fish puff, mussels, fish, and sticks of imitation crab. A visual treat, as well as a tasty one.

And for those who actually still have room for more, “Liu Yi Shou” does have dessert, offering something sweet to end on. Like their red rice cakes that you dip into condense milk or a sweet syrup. I did try one, but after all the food above, I felt ending on anything rice related or starchy a little much.

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? – Yes.
I like their creativity and the broad offering of their menu. They aren’t just a place for hot pot, but serve as a stop for happy hour as well. Cold drinks and small snacks or dessert. They offer regulars and occasional customers reasons to return with plenty of variety to try and taste. And as the first hot pot place to have franchises all over the world, there are many locations for you to get your fix at. Don’t deny your cravings.

LIUYISHOU HOTPOT
1542 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C2
778-379-3977

Grandma Liu Hot Pot

I was really excited to stumble upon this new Sichuan style hot pot place in Richmond’s Union Square. Here they offer made to order, individual hot pots with your choice of ingredients.

The restaurant is fairly simple, seats on either side of the room, and a counter in front of an open kitchen. You order and pay, then pick up your tray, and seat yourself based on table availability. We choose ours under a collage of cartoon pig posters. Next to the cart of help yourself drinks and utensils.

But your journey starts by the door, where a refrigerated unit keeps a selection of meat, seafood, noodles, and vegetables in plastic bins cool. You grab a large bowl and a pair of tongs and begin picking and curating your perfect bowl of hot pot. Though keep in mind you are charged by weight: $2.99 per 100grams, and the bowl adds to this weight itself. We went for one of each of the meat and seafood options, selecting the occasional vegetable along the way. Though a better strategy would be to choose the lightest cuts of meat and the leafiest vegetable for the lightest weight. As in avoiding the lotus root and potato sections, along with any of the ball; and instead loading up on the thin slices of lamb and pork, the chunks tofu, and all the lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and bok choy you desire.

More unique ingredients include seaweed knots, quail egg, vermicelli bundles, spam, Chinese doughnut, dried egg, Chinese sausage, two types of tripe, bamboo shoots, and congealed blood.

Next, you bring your collection to the counter where it is weighed. Our 6.5 grams of food came to around $20, which is a good decent deal and amount of food for two to share. And if you want your meal a little more hearty you can add on a bowl of rice for $1.50.

Your hot pot is then finished off in the kitchen. Where all the ingredients are separated and cooked individually at their own cooking times, to avoid over boiling. And before it is reassembled you are asked what sauces you want with sesame, garlic, and chilli as options. We opted to have our spice on the side for my sake, although the typical preparation for this is to have the broth super spicy.

This practice originated long ago in China where the dish originated (as was explained to me by “Picky Diner”, an expert when it comes to Chinese cuisine). Back then this was seen as commoner’s food. The hot and spicy flavours used was meant to hide the lack of quality in the meat served. Innards like intestines were commonly used as protein, based on their price and accessibility. Whereas currently in the China’s dining scene, hot pot is served more like this, with plenty of variety in its fresh ingredients.

As of our serving, the broth was fantastic, it was rich and savoury, delicious to sip. With hints of Sichuan peppercorn that offered mild heat and pops of their trademark numbing effect. None of our chosen ingredients needed a dip in any sauce, each was fully flavoured by the soup they sat and stewed in.

 

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 this was more accessible to me, they would see me here more regularly. I like the idea, the ability to customize and have fun with your food, and the finished product. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRANDMA LIU HOT POT
8388 Capstan Way Unit 1463, Richmond BC, V6X 4A7
604-370-5015
grandma-liu-noodle.business.site

Morals Village Hot Pot

Today we were traveling around Richmond, taking on the “Dumpling Trail”, a self guided tour that took you on a journey to taste 13 different kinds of dumplings across 20 different restaurants, all vetted and vouched for by “Tourism Richmond”.

One of our stops was “Morals Village” for their water boiled dumplings”. They are a hot pot restaurant, so you wouldn’t expect to find dumplings here, nor would come here just for dumplings. So it is great to see that they were highlighted in our “Dumpling Trail” brochure, otherwise we wouldn’t think of visiting.

Located in an outdoor plaza, their red plastered exterior draws the eye. Large photos of their hot pots give you a peak of what’s to come. Walking in, the decor really impresses. Dark wood fixtures, walls and chairs; paired with black marble tables and counters. I liked the plastered art: a paper mache tree with pink and white blossoms that crept across the room.

What was less impressive was the clerk standing behind the counter eating chips. We walked in to no greeting, instead I had to initiate conversation as she ate. I felt the need to ask if they were open for business, given her demeanour and the fact there was only one other table seated in the back. She pointed to a table as she fed herself another chip.

We sat ourselves taking in the preset table with built in heat source and a rack of ladles. Another employee came by to drop off some menus. With little writing on the wall and little instruction in this landscape listing, I felt the need to ask about what the hot pot came with. He walked us through the menu and clarified things. You start by picking your soup base then the meat, seafood, vegetable, noodles and/or tofu you want to go into it. You pay for everything you want, a lesson we learned the hard way.

No where on the menu does it list that you have to pay for sauces, nor is there a sign by their self serve sauce and topping bar. So when our bill came, we were all shocked by the $3.25 fee we each had to pay. Especially given that we budgeted ourselves and knew that we did not eat $3.25 worth of sauce. Not to mention that there isn’t not enough flavour from simply boiling the meat and veg in the broth. It was with the bill and my disappointment that I decided I need not return. There are many hot pot places to choose from within the Lower Mainland. And a handful of them offer a lot more value for as similar flavours. Aside from the decor and the fact that “Morals Village” offers well made dumplings, done in house, there isn’t much else that sets them apart. And when it comes to hot pot, all you can eat will always be my first choice. None-the-less the food was good and I had no complaints with that.

I liked the fact that the dumplings we came in for were made in house, and presented raw. They were served as one of many ingredients you can choose to cook within your boiling pot, so were basically flavoured by the broth that you choose. Available in shrimp or chives, we ordered the latter.

We went for the “Special spicy style vegetable oil soup base” for our hot pot. It was spicer than it looked with its fiery red hue. The broth itself was deliciously warming. We each made sure to enjoy a bowl of it when we were done fishing out the boiled ingredients. You just need to be weary of biting in to a peppercorn or chilli flake and overwhelming any bite or scoop when you do.

For other ingredients we ordered the “octopus”, which turned out to be cuttlefish.

The “Sliced supreme beef” was nice, quick to cook, it was ready within 10 seconds.

Enoki mushroom was our vegetable choice, I liked their texture and the contrast in chewing they provided with everything else.

 

To watch our hot pot dumpling adventure and to live the experience of the “Trail” through us, check out my latest YouTube video on my channel: MaggiMei.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I liked the way the dumplings were presented and how you cook it yourself at your table. However, as a hot pot option I would pass on them. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MORALS VILLAGE
Empire Centre
4540 Number 3 Road, Richmond V6X 1E4
778-237-3737
Morals Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gon’s Izakaya

After a day out at Stanley Park, attending a music festival in the rain, I was more than ecstatic to end our night within the warmth of this fushion Asia Restaurant.

Given how much I liked the food, I was surprised to see it so empty on a Saturday night. But this is also how I felt about the last three restaurants that held this space. Maybe it’s the location? -A far walk from Robson’s main strip, but then again they are next to a popular dessert cafe that has only flourished with its tenure. None the less we had plenty of room to enjoy this Japanese inspired izakaya, sharing raw seafood, saucy noodles and deep-fried vegetables amongst three.

At the entrance was a lengthy share table centred with some decorative bamboo and stones. Around the corner were additional seats lined up against the wall, a row set parallel to chairs along the bar. We grabbed a corner at the former and began amassing food and drink, starting with a bottle of white wine.

The menu is easy to navigate with pictorials. Their “Spicy red nabe”, was declared a must try, highlighted on its own laminated sheet. This was their house special hot pot with Japanese nappa cabbage, bean sprouts, tofu, eggplant, chicken, and pork belly: cooked in a miso broth flavoured with red pepper and paprika. You had the option of choosing how spicy you wanted it from a scale of one to five, I went for a one to be able to enjoy the dish.

It is cooked table side over a electric coil. It comes as a tower of raw ingredients in the aforementioned broth. Then as the brew boils and the steam seeps out, your server returns to peel back the layers of pork belly, and shift vegetables around to uncover a foundation of beansprouts. This opening is used to stir in a paste and a chilli sauce. Then the serving is allowed more time to boil and cook. The result is a wonderfully fragrant hot pot, one of the best in flavour with the fermented pickling providing a natural umami to the mix. This was definitely my favourite dish of the evening and one I would order again, should I return.

A close second for very different reasons was the “Tempura curry Udon”. I would order this one again too on my next visit. I was looking for something rich in sauciness with the proper carbs to soak it up. This sweet Japanese style curry with chewy fat udon noodles did not disappoint. The flavours and the textures of this are all ones I personally gravitate towards, if I am ordering for preference. I want another serving just writing and re-reading this.

The “Gon’s original kara-age” is Japanese style deep fried organic chicken. These were an easy win, tasty nuggets of juicy chicken you could easily pop into your mouth. Best with an beer to balance out its saltiness.

A little too similar was the gathering of deep fried vegetable and homemade fishballs. Tasty, but together with the chicken above this was too much deep fry and not enough pickled vegetable or creamy sauce to break things apart.

The “Seafood donburi” came as a set with miso soup, a side salad with vinaigrette, a steamed egg dish, seasoned bamboo, and a dish of tangy pickles. You felt you got your money’s worth with this one. Plenty to mix and match flavours with, and enough to leave you full. The raw fish over the sushi rice was a collection of sashimi that included red snapper, yellow tail, tuna, octopus, and sweet spot prawn. It was a seafood lover’s dream given how fresh it all tasted.

The “Takoyaki poutine” made good drunk food. Fries, gravy, and parmesan cheese topped with four balls of takoyaki, flavoured with its normal dressing of sweet mayo and bonito flakes. It tasted exactly as it sounds.

 

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.
I really liked this place, as I naturally gravitate to asian fusion and smaller plates that allow you to order lots, try plenty, and sharing everything. If this was by my work I would be frequenting them more often. But sadly its not that close to make a trip out to, nor is parking easy by it. But if you are ever in the area and are ever given the option, I would definitely suggest snacking with them. Don’t deny your cravings

 

GON’S
854 Denman Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2L8
604-559-6404
izakaya-gons.com/denman

JiangHu, Taiwanese Pot & Wok Cuisine

Before you roll your eyes at another new hot pot place, let me stop you right there. This one is a whole lot of different, offering more than just meat and vegetables in soup. This is first hotpot service that I haven’t had to rely on any side sauces to flavour boiled ingredients. Everything was just so fragrant that we skipped it all together, but more on that later.

Located in Richmond (for someone who lives in Burnaby, such as myself), it is quite the distance to travel for hot pot. But once again given the uniqueness of it, this one is worth commuting to. Even their name sets them apart. “Jiang Hu” means “gangster” in Chinese. The title meant to symbolize the glitzy part of the lifestyle and the camaraderie of a gang, and not so much the illegal aspects of it. The employee uniforms speak to this branding: each server wears a black logo tee, embossed with the restaurant’s name in gold; but most noticeable, is the fake tattoo sleeves worm on each arm. Although, all this detail is contradicted by the rotation of Chinese and North American pop music playing overhead.

And when it come to the aesthetics, the restaurant’s decor and utensils spoke to them being a fine dining establishment. Which ran parallel to their focus on higher end ingredients and a quality dining experience. Although, as a “gangster”, I guess you can afford and do enjoy the better things in life. 

We were seated in a regal dining room with dark wood tables and bucketed tweed seats, framed by Chinese artistry. A mixed metal-media panel showed tranquil waters with greenery and lotus blooms, birds mid flight and ducks waddling by the shore. There was also a wooden, geometric, cut out, wall feature towards the back; the traditional waving cat statue for luck by the cash desk; and a collection of tea pot and porcelain vessels by the entrance door.

They had their soft opening in January, and by the time this media event took place in March they seemed well established and settled in. We ate at 5pm, and only after an hour the place filled up, with additional bodies waiting by the door. A part of this, their marketing team believes is due to the fact that they offer more options than other Taiwanese hot pot places. A lot more, as we were soon to find out.

Each table is set with a very unique version of the lazy susan (the moving round that sit atop of a table, that allows for the easier sharing of dishes amongst a larger part). It has a hole at its centre, like a doughnut. Here, sits your travel stove and the pot that will cook over it. The reason behind this, is they are cultivating an atmosphere, where the pot doesn’t move so everyone is expected to gather around it; hanging out and chatting with your friends.

When it comes to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Our meal began with really good tea. A rich and full bodied brew that reminded me of the roasted milk teas you get from bubble tea places; just without the cream, sugar, and/or pearls. Although, you wouldn’t necessarily want to pair it with the very flavourful dishes to come. This tea is best sipped before or after a meal, on its own.

Instead, they brew and bottle their own line of drinks, which is sold exclusively to “JiangHu” customers. They do come in bottles that are perfect for easy take-away. Although the staff strongly suggest that you do not reuse these bottles, as they are only good the one time use. And it comes with the warning that since these juices are made fresh with all natural ingredients, their shelf life is shorter. They currently only offer three flavours, but are looking to add more. A “plum and guava” that includes the salty dried snack plums in the drink itself. Like the treat, this drink is sweet and salty, but with a tropical flavour from the guava. The “cold brew black tea” with winter melon was my favourite. It is made with a special type of black tea, giving it a nice balance to the sweeter melon syrup. And the last drink was the lightest of the three, more like chilled tea then juice: “Four seasons green tea”. Overall each beverage was refreshing, ideal to cleanse the palette with during and after the dinner below.

Today we got to try two of their four different signature hot pot flavours. These were some of the tastiest broths I have ever enjoyed. Whereas when you order regular hotpot, if you are like me, you fish out all the ingredients, eating all you can, and then leaving all the liquid behind. Here, the soup-broth is the best part. It isn’t all you can eat, but you get your value from being able to enjoy the pot several different ways, and over and over again as left overs to boot.

The Taiwanese lamb pot is one of their signatures, a thick and rich broth boiled with frozen tofu, Taiwanese tofu skin, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Taiwanese cabbage, New Zealand lamb, Chinese herbs, and cilantro. This broth was so good that I insisted on doggy bagging it and having it as lunch for days. First it is served as is, like a soup with tender chunks of lamb. Once all scooped up, more stock gets add to the broth, and this now becomes your new hot pot base. To it, you add all the frozen and raw hot pot ingredients you’ve ordered as any add ons. The only thing I would have done differently is to serve it with noodles, as they would have easily soaked up all that great sauce; and that is exactly what did with my leftover tub. In conclusion, this is quite possibility my new favourite hot pot, so flavourful it didn’t need any of the sauces below.

Although each service does come with a platter of six herbs and oil, and if i did use them I could make my own mix of chilli, cilantro, green onion, soy sauce, and fresh ground garlic. For the lamb hot pot above, it was recommended that we use their fermented tofu with bean paste, for dipping in to.

Next we had their “Rice wine chicken pot”, which is certainty the most exciting hotpot I have ever been introduced to. This broth too is pre-made, brought out with veggies and herbs ready to be boiled, with a serving of raw chicken on the side. The pot is boiled half way, more broth is added and boiled down again, in order to deepen the flavour. Next the free range chicken is added in, and the whole pot is torched. The wine burns to further the essence. You allow the flames to run its course, flickering until it dies down. If you decide to try more than one hot pot during your visit, I suggest you start with this one. It is a lot more mild compared to the lamb above. This would make a great warming start, and a great base to build your hot pot from. After we drank some soup and ate the chicken, we added additional ingredients to the boil.

The “Handmade meat paste platter” was especially impressive. A pork and black truffle paste, cuttle fish with tobiko on top, and a lamb with rosemary mixture, all spread into a special bamboo tube. Taking hold of one of these tubes and using the special scooper provided, you flick chunks into the boiling water. They eventually firm up to form irregularly shaped balls. Such meat balls in hot pot are my favourite, so to have them fresh here was a real treat.

Your standard, thinly sliced cuts of meat curled up for presentation value. This is their New Zealand lamb add on, each curl cooked quickly in the hot pot.

There was a good assortment of mushrooms, greens, and root vegetables in the “Assorted veggie platter”. This is a good add-on base for your hot pot. They also had more traditional ingredients like lamb heart, tripe, and kidney. And plenty of seafood and vegetables that rivals other hot pot place. The following is a list of the more unique ingredients that they have available. Bamboo pith, crown daisy, white tiger prawns, abalone, live clams, fish maw, and sea cucumber. Mind you, you do pay for each item, so the more luxurious it is, the more it will cost you.

But for those not wanting the extra labour of cooking for yourself at a restaurant, they also have small dishes you can order to share. They called these their “Taiwanese wok creations”. We tried a few of their more popular ones below.

“Taiwanese burgers”. The white bun was a regular flour bao, the orange: pumpkin. The latter was called “tiger skin” because of its patterning: black streaks in the yellowish dough. Flavour-wise, I couldn’t really taste a difference; if there was one, it was mild. Both buns were filled with braised pork belly, cilantro, peanut powder, pickled vegetable, and their house made plum sauce. The pork belly was certainly the highlight of each “pocket”, it was marinated with a sweet and savoury flavour, and the meat was so tender that it practically melted in your mouth. Not to mention there was enough of it from “burger” tip to tip.

The “Taiwanese satay with lamb” is a traditional Taiwanese dish. It is prepared purposefully strong with bold flavours and spice, making it a great accompaniment to beer.

The “Deep fried chicken nuggets” was your classic Taiwanese appetizer. Peppery chicken pieces that is easy to pop into your mouth. Here, an order also comes with sweet potato fries, deep fried long beans, and crispy basil for some variety. It all paired nicely together making the dish a more complete order.

Out of all the wok cooked dishes, this was everyone’s favourite. Tender slices of pork neck, with some nice grilling on its edges. Served with a mild house made miso sauce for dipping.

This was another impressive dish that stole everyone’s attention as soon as it arrived. I have seen rice served as pyramids before, but never one this tall and this erect. “Sergestid shrimp fried rice” with dried cherry blossoms and mixed vegetable. I liked the texture of the rice the most, it was like every grain of rice was perfectly fried and made crispy with a nice shrimpy taste.

Their “Deep fried squid” had more breading their your average calamari. Paired with the shrimp chips, you had yourself a patter of crispy and chewy textures to maw over.

This was my first time trying “Octopus beaks”, though with their heavy coating in breading you couldn’t exactly tell what it is you were having. The “beak balls” offerred crunch and are most fragrant with some of the tiny shrimp, peanuts, and garlic shoot present in each bite. You really needed all ingredients together in order to balance out all the dominant flavours. The peanuts were an especially good base for the spiciness of the dish.

“Three Cup chicken” is another traditional Taiwanese dish. Chicken, rice wine, sesame oil, and soya sauce. But in their version, boneless chicken and chicken soft bone (the cartilage part between the breast) is used instead of the traditional chicken bone-in thigh meat. They do this to get the same textures, but consider etiquette. To have this, is to not have to worry about spitting out bones in between bites.

 

 

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.
Truly a unique hotpot place, one worth driving to from Burnaby to Richmond. They offer traditional Taiwanese cuisine with the pageantry and flare that any “gangster” would appreciate. While providing modern twists and a modern setting that anyone familiar with Taiwanese cuisines could appreciate. A great meal and a new experience to gather a few friends together to share. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JIANGHU
100-7911 Alderbridge Way, Richmond BC
604-207-1388
jianghu-cuisine.com
JiangHu Taiwanese Pot and Wok Cuisines Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boiling Point

The name is familiar, but up to this point I have yet to visit this well known hot pot chain. Typically when I enjoy hot pot, or when I crave it I am all about that bang for my buck. So I direct my attention to the all you can eat chains, but today I left the newest location of “Boiling Point” feeling just as full.

I was invited to this media event, to celebrate their grand opening on Main Street, their first location in Vancouver. Their other three are in Richmond, Surrey, and Burnaby. They have quickly become a fan favourite thanks to their individual sized pots, kept hot. The heat is thanks to the flame underneath, kept safe within their special platform. It stays lit and the soup stays boiling well into your meal. You can ask for more soup and a new fire, to extend the experience if you choose. And eating off a platform at an elevated height for optimum hand to mouth movement is enjoyable in itself.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The restaurant is very modern. Red brick walls, a series of pipes leading to round light bulbs, and wooden tables and booths. It felt like a cafe you would find in Yaletown. But the steamed up and fogged up windows made them distinctly “Boiling Pot”.

The menu is very easy to navigate. A colourful fold-out listing all their flavoured soups and each and every ingredient that goes into it. A great way to be transparent with their customers and for those with allergies or preferences to be well informed.

To start, we tried each of their four available appetizers. They were ingredients you could find within their pots, highlighted on a plate.

“Spicy fermented tofu”. This is a traditional Taiwanese dish, and a must try according to their descriptive menu. They are proud to acknowledge that each triangle is produced from a certified factory in Taiwan. Their tofu is hand brewed from naturally fermented vegetables and contains no preservatives. It is quite a delicacy, if you can get past the smell of bad breath, and if you like spicy food. A firm texture, coupled with a unique taste, that grows on you. I found myself enjoying it more the second time around.

The “spicy cumin lamb” was the same thin slices of lamb in any hot pot, but here flavoured with cumin. But there was hardly enough spice to call it “spicy”. Which would have been nice with the drizzle of creamy white sauce shown in the menu, that was also missing. When I inquired about it, I was told that is not how they prepare it. Instead, it was tasty and tender, but not what was pictured or what I expected.

The “spicy beef” was like the tender and tasty lamb above, but instead seasoned with their signature Mala sauce. Another not spicy, but super tasty and curly ribbon of meat. Flavour-wise, similar to lamb above.

Also similar in texture was their “garlic pork belly”. Freshly sliced pork belly, topped with garlic, chilli, and soy sauce. More salty and sweet then garlicky.

As for their hot pots, they have 10 different soup bases available. You start by selecting your hot soup, next choosing your spice level for it, and then picking a complimentary add on. The latter is basically a bowl of rice or vermicelli to have with your savoury meal and soup. A bowl of carbs to make it extra filling, with a vessel to eat out of. I found eating straight out of a bubbling pot, sweaty work; not to mention the added low visibility if you are wearing glasses.

During lunch you also get a drink included with your meal. Either an iced green tea or an iced black tea. And for lunch your bill is $1 less. Lunch and dinner portions sizes are the same. There is no actual difference between the two, so you are basically paying a premium for when you decide to dine.

All their soups and sauces are made in their “Central kitchen”, located in Richmond. They are delivered to their four restaurants daily. Another fact they pride themselves on. Which is also why they don’t franchise. The brand wishes to continue controlling every aspect of their food, to ensure quality and brand uniformity. And the plan works. I can attest to how great the soup bases are, I never once reached out for any of the four homemade sauces that sat on each table. Clear jars filled with oils, pastes, and liquids available but not necessary. Everything came already well seasoned and flavourful, to the point where any more would be off-putting.

I myself did not order all these different flavours blow, but I was pretty insistent that those sitting with me couldn’t order the same thing, so that I could try them all. It work, they did and I did.

The “House special” was my favourite for its intensity and complexity of flavours. No two mouthfuls tasted the same between the broth with most depth, and all the ingredients bobbing about, within it. Napa cabbage, fermented tofu, sliced pork, enoki mushroom, kamaboko, meat ball in pork, clam, quail egg, pork blood, pork intestine, nira, tomato, preserved vegetables, and cilantro. Naturally the stinky tofu was fairly pronounced, but only in taste and not in smell. It and the quail’s egg really made this something you have never had before.

The “Korean bean paste” hot pot was spicy, my dining mate who ordered it asked for medium in heat, but it came out tasting a lot more like hot. A bright red pool with bean sprouts, nira, pork belly, kimchi, green zucchini, fish tofu, kamaboko, tempura, rice cake, enoki mushroom, fish fillet, wok noodles, lobster fish ball, crown daisy, seaweed, and Korean paste. It tasted like a Korean barbecue sauce but in soup form, with plenty of familiar Korean ingredients and textures.

I had their newest hot pot: the sweet “milk cream curry”. I had it mild so the curry combined with the cream was more sweet than spicy or savoury. The pot is delivered as a pool of yellow with half of it submerged in a thick blob of sea salt cream. The foam slowly melts into the curry broth the more it boils, or you can simply help it along by stirring things up. This pot had the least amount of ingredients, I found myself digging past all the Napa cabbage in search of a protein or a starch. Sliced pork, vermicelli, enoki mushroom, imitation crab stick, fish ball, dried tofu skin, corn, tempura, mountain yam, and Chinese string bean. There was also not enough vermicelli in the mix (my favourite part) thankfully I was smart enough to order more of it as my complimentary side.

The “Taiwanese spicy” delivered. This soup was served in a larger pot, as a larger serving than the others. Here you couldn’t choose your level of spice, it was heavy on the spice and that was it. I tried some and it had me coughing and tearing up after I inhaled it in too quick. Definitely not for those who like their food mild or even medium. Cabbage, instant noodle, tempura, clam, sliced angus beef, enoki mushroom, cuttlefish rings, fish balls, pork intestine, pork blood, maitake mushroom, fried tofu skin, iced tofu, green onion, and cilantro. It was hard to fully appreciate all these wonderful ingredients past the overwhelming amount of spice. But at least you could make them out based on their textures.

The “Japanese miso” was my second favourite pot, especially with the udon and raw egg that crowning the serving. It was a mild miso soup to fully highlight all the other ingredients. Cabbage, sliced pork, enoki mushroom, clam, soft tofu, fish ball, fish fillet, crab, egg, king oyster mushroom, fried tofu skin, and green onion.

They also had a Thai version that I was interested in. I suspect that this would be reminiscent of Tom Yum. And there was also a tomato based broth for the vegetarians. And for those looking for something more simple you can choose your protein in a more traditional soup base. Lamb, beef, or seafood.

To accompany your hot pot they have a hefty list of drinks. Juices, teas, hot drinks, and soda. I went with a milk tea to help refresh my palette and cool my tongue. I found the “Hokkaido milk tea” just amazing. I would could back just go take this to go. Luckily it comes in a to-go cup, in case you can’t finish and find yourself having to.

For the same reason, their new dessert was a popular way to end your time with them. The “milky soft herbal jelly”. Is also made within their central kitchen. It is prepared in the traditional way, using the Mesona Chinese herb. Then packaged to-go in a portable plastic cup and lid, with label; looking like it could be sold commercially in a grocery store. It included a compartment to keep the pods of milk separate, just waiting for you to peal back their cover and pour them out. The dessert as a whole was very refreshing. It was the perfect slurp of neutral to wash away all the potent seasonings and spices used in your entree. A jelly without a taste, that its tastelessness soon defines it.

 

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.
I really enjoyed my time with them and tasting all the hot pots they offered. One of my biggest complaints against hot pot is that many broths offered are so flat, so you soon find yourself leaning heavily on sauces to flavour your meal. Here I didn’t touch any of it. And even though it’s not all you can eat, $15 gets you plenty. Majority of us couldn’t finish our shares. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BOILING POINT
4148 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P7
604-620-2198
bpgroupusa.com
Boiling Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gokudo Shabu Shabu Hot Pot

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I wanted something original, since I was coming out all the way to Richmond. My guest suggested shabu shabu. “shabu shabu” is the Japanese version of hot pot. It consists of a variety of thinly sliced meats and vegetables boiled in water or broth. The term is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound emitted when ingredients are stirred in a boiling pot. The food is cooked piece by piece by the diner at the table, and enjoyed with a dipping sauce.

I advise calling ahead for reservations, they are too busy for walk-ins, unless it’s after 10pm.

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The room was centred around a U-shaped counter. The employees work at its centre, tending to the customers seated facing inwards, towards them. Having been to Japan I knew this set up was very typical. Where more often, individuals eat alone. Whereas in North American, with my myself included, I eat out to socialize. And we were able to do that just fine seated side by side, facing our own individual pot on heated coil.

Towards the back of the room was a television set, it was broadcasting dance music videos and playing their corresponding songs overhead. It made for a very jovial ambience.

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Each setting was very thoughtful, they had everything you would need set before you at arm’s length, even before you sat down. A plate and matching bowl, a miniature ladle, a sieve scoop to fish out the ingredients without the soup, and a bound together set of utensils. Wrapped chopsticks for the raw ingredients, plastic chopsticks for eating with, and a wrapped straw for your drink.

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The menu also functioned as a placemat. Like regular Chinese hot pot, you choose your own broth. You can then order each item and piece together your ideal serving, or go for the combo, as we did. The combo is a set amount of food that defines the best value. We selected our own main, which was a plate of one type of meat, with it came a set serving of vegetables and seafood. The combo is the best deal, with more than enough to eat, and if you wanted more you could easily order it on the side for extra. It comes with the house special soup base and a plate of vegetables like lettuce, tomato, and pumpkin. And seafood that includes shrimp, fish cake, beef ball, and tofu.

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You begin by choosing your main and it determines how much you pay. As rich as $48 for Kobe beef, and as budget friendly as the $15 for chicken slices or regular pork. There was also lamb shoulder, chicken bone in, salmon head, fish slices, mixed balls, and Japanese oden for the vegetarians. Next you choose the type of noodle you want from udon, bean thread, or rice noodles. For extra you can have instant noodles or marinaded ground pork added on. And all this comes with a milk tea drink and dessert. The latter of which we didn’t get and forgot to claim.

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I got the pork neck with bean thread noodles, and paid $2 more for the milk soup base. Outside from its white hue, I couldn’t tell that I was cooking my savoury dinner in milk. It didn’t flavour the meat, nor did it make the boiled vegetables any creamier. And with the dipping sauce, I didn’t taste much outside of hoisin sauce and garlic anyways. For a drink, I choose regular milk tea over green or black milk team.

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My guest got the sirloin with bean thread noodles, and the tomato soup base. She had been here before and claimed the sirloin was a better cut of meat, than even the prime AAA beef at $12 more. She paid a little more for a can of apple soda.

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Your additional dishes are then brought out: sauce, your meat of choice in thin slices, rolled up and stacked high; and the predetermined vegetables.

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The enjoyment of the cooking process is one best done chatting with a friend. You take your time dunking in beef, and pulling it out for a rare cook. The vegetables sink to the bottom and stay there for longer. The noodles absorb the broth. Once again it doesn’t seem like a lot of food, but you fill up during the cooking and talking portion of your experience. We left too full for dessert, that’s why we forgot to ask for it.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was delicious, but at a couple of dollars more, you can get all this and more from an all you can eat Chinese hot pot place. I would come back, but it would not be my first choice, even if they are the only ones with a milky broth like this. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GOKUDO
3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3Z9
604-232-9078
Gokudo Shabu Shabu Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Claypot Hotpot and B.B.Q.

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Hotpot, barbecue, and steamer all in one kitchen gadget!

 

I like food, I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am sad, I eat when I am bored, and I eat to say I have eaten it. Today I wanted to eat my feelings and my guest suggested hot pot. Hot pot is one of those comforting meals where you cook the food at your table. The process of eating as you cook gives you plenty of time to talk. The goal is to eat all that you can and claim your money’s worth.

This particular hot pot restaurant has long been on my list, so when the stars aligned and we found ourselves here. I opted for an earlier dinner time to allow us the opportunity to digest after such a heavy meal, before bed.

They are known for all you can eat hot pot on one of the most unique contraptions built for dinner theatre. This was a hotpot boiling pot, barbecue grill, and steamer all in one. Three tiers for you to cook your meat and vegetables on. The ability to boil a wonton in soup, grill it like a gyoza, or steam it like a dumpling, right before your very hands. Each method was not only delicious, but it allowed you variety, and offered you a way to rejuvenate a would be one-toned taste.

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The room was cold, the kind of cold that had you folding your arms to keep warm. But it would soon quickly warm with the heat of several flames bringing several pots to boil. Each table had a burner built into it, ours was already on and flickered when we sat down. A little dangerous considering that first part of the dinner involves checking off a flammable piece of paper, doing so by passing it back and forth over this flame.

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The menu is two pages front and back. One dedicated to the traditional hot pot fare with pre-cooked sides, sauces, and drinks. Another with thicker cuts of meat, ideally for the barbecue platform. However you can put anything anywhere at your discretion. With pencil you go over each option checking off what you wanted and listing how many pieces you believed you could eat.

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You begin by choosing your broth. As is often the case, there is a separate cost for the soup. You have to have soup to have hot pot, so it is disappointing to have to pay the separate charge for it. $9 was the standard price, with $18 being on the higher end. “Silky chicken with ginseng”, “winter melon and chicken feet”, “parsley and preserved egg”, and “preserved vegetable and pork belly” were the most adventurous of all 13 options.

We went with the ability to have two $9 soup bases for $13. Our pot would be divided, on top of having the additional layers protruding from its centre. If you didn’t plan to barbecue you could request the regular hot pot vessel, just the cauldron.

The “Thai Tom Yam Kung” soup based was a red-ish Orange brew with a nice warming spice. The “Peppered pork stomach” is one I wouldn’t recommend. The broth was littered with peppercorn pearls and each bite into one unleashed the full force of spicy pepper. And the rubbery stomach meat was no better.

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The second tier was for barbecue grilling. It is interesting to note that you lay the raw meat or seafood directly on to the thin piece of white paper, protecting said grill. This layer shields it from the burning of grease, and doesn’t affective the cooking process or the finished product.

The top layer was a steamer basket with lid. As the hot air from the cooking below rises, it steams everything at the top of the tower.

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As for ingredients that went into the boiling broth? This was one of the most comprehensive lists I have ever had the pleasure to scan though and choose off of. Everything was available to order piece by piece, in a set of four, or by the bundle or plate. It was hard to decide and commit to six pieces of pork skin or four pieces of black fungus. I preferred the guess work out of my hands, and to be able to order by a set or by the plate. A plate of beansprouts or a medley of mushrooms. Bring me what you think I could finishing. Especially as we weren’t able to eat all that we ordered and we only ordered one round. I think this is one of the only places that actually gives you everything that you check off. They don’t hold you back, or use their best judgment and experience to restrain you from over ordering, and ultimately wasting food. This was the one time I wished we didn’t get what we asked for at a restaurant. More than five plates were left uncooked and much more sat over cooked, hidden at the bottom of the split pot.

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Seafood like fish fillet and salmon heads, various squid parts, octopus, and mussels. Oysters were available too, but the menu was specific to say only two each. We were initially upset by the restriction. This was all you can eat but with a limit, it defeats the purpose. Though either of us liked how the cooked oyster came out. We avoided the shrimp in shell because peeling it was tedious. Although it was easier to peel after a quick grill and was delicious because of it.

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They had six different dumplings choice available, but the minced fish one were crossed off. You couldn’t really tell the dumplings apart, they were cooked in the same broth and dipped in the same sauce, so they essentially tasted the same. Although their different shapes and various dough wrappings were visual appealing. Pork and chives, pork and fungus, pork and vegetable, fish, and wonton.

The “meat” choices were sheered thin or rolled into curls. Sliced rib eye, short rib, pork belly, regular pork, and lamb shoulder. They also had meat by the bone or in cubes. Chicken wings and luncheon meat. And for the more adventurous they offered beef tripe, stomach, and tendon. They had pork jowl, stomach, liver, bung, and even cooked pork blood cubes. We avoided all of this, as I was not daring enough to try any of it. Such ingredients are so strong that they often change the flavour of the soup and therefore everything cooked in it. My guest was of the same mind set.

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The vegetables were more appealing. With six variations of tofu and bean curds. Five different types of leafy greens washed and served on a plate. And taro, lotus root, turnip, and pumpkin, just to name a few.

My hot pot favourite has always been the balls. Minced and mashed meats formed into round balls. They had eleven options including all the basic proteins and more exotic ones like cuttlefish and dace fish. Imitation crab meat fell under this category as well.

They also had a bevy of noodles to boil and eat it all with. Udon, vermicelli, bean thread noodle, glass noodle, instant noodle, and the noodle in wonton soup. I like the chew of such carbs and especially the slices of rice cake and the tubes of gluten. However, I advise not filling up on it, as it is the cheap stuff. And in order to get more bang for your buck, you want to gorge on everything else, specially the proteins.

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If you run out of sauce you could always order more. I find the meal is nothing without a strong salty mix to dip meat into and/or to drench noodles with. We started off with soy and satay sauce, and had plenty of it to go finish our meal with. But if we ran out or wanted a different flavour profile, all the varieties were priced at a $1 more. Hot chilli pepper, chopped garlic, shredded ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, or persevered egg.

And if you are too lazy to cook, they actually offered pre-cooked appetizers and entrees. Seaweed and pork ear salads, rice with chicken, and deep fried rice cake.

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Each table included a metal rack with three shelves. This was so that there was enough room for everything you ordered, and that you were given enough elbow space in which to eat it all.

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Overall, I can’t really comment on the food. We were the ones cooking it. And seeing as we were busy talking instead of concentrating; all the meat came out burnt, the seafood was fished out overcooked, and the dumplings stuck on to the grill in a melted mounds. Although with the use of the soy and satay sauce it all came out tasty. Once again I left another hot pot meal
too full and without tasting the finished broth/end product. The soup ends up tasting like what you put into it throughout the cooking process, which ends up being nothing like its original brew.

The meal was to end up in a bite of tofu for dessert, but we were too past full to indulge.

There were plenty of staff to tend to each table. Almost one person per seating looking out for you. Each raise of your hand or a look in their direction had them approaching you. They weren’t ready on the tea refill, but were quick to jump as soon as I called. Although at the same time I felt judged by some of my requests. There was no communication from them to say they understood, but instead a contorting of the face to question my request. I wanted a plate to store the excess food being over cooked in soup. I got one bowl. I wanted more napkins to clean my hand, I got just a one.

 

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.
The drive to was a little out there for me, but very much so worth the effort. A unique experience with a large array for food at a good price. All you can eat enoki mushrooms and quail eggs where other places charged an extra dollar or two for either. The point of this visit was to enjoy the special pot, and it delivered, giving us a unique dining experience. Overall for the cost and the value, I have no regrets. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CLAYPOT
105-8291 Alexandra Road, Richmond BC, V6X 1C3
604-284-5181
Claypot Hotpot and B.B.Q. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fatty Cow Seafood Hot Pot

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During this dinner I learned that is is sometimes better to not make a reservation or come in earlier for it. They opened at 5pm, we walked through at 5:45pm. We were directed to an awkward table arrangement: one chair sandwiching a four top with a booth against the wall. As it is my preferred form of seating, I asked for a booth on the opposite side of the room instead. However was inform that the booths were reserved for four people parties. Facing that direction I was able to monitor their status during my meal; and what I concluded was that the servers had fed us a lie. I watched a table of three get seated in one booth, as they were no other awkwardly arranged three person tables left, and just a couple of two got sat at the one beside it. All because they came in literally minutes after us. We actually made a reservation, they simply walked in.

The service after the initial interaction wasn’t much better either. Our tea and water cups were left unfilled, and we were never checked in on for any signs of satisfaction. When we did manage to attract their attention for a refill, only the person asking had their cup was replenished. You would think they would do everyone else’s instinctively? At least to save some time and their own trouble?

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And it only got worse and worse towards the end of the meal, when they prematurely bussed our table. My two guests were still eating, it’s all you can eat, they were doing the challenge justice. Taking their time, enjoying our stay. However the male server removes our sauces that were still in use. The sauces that basically gave everything it’s taste. The sauces that you only get one serving of and have to ration and share between your group members. We purposely scrounged what little we had to not have to pay $2-3 more for an additional serving. So naturally we were pretty devastated when we had it taken away in a huff. And when we I called it to his attention he literally rolled his eyes at us in judgment, almost to cut us off and say that we had enough. Where in reality we only ordered one round, we were no where near the maximum two hour stay, and I was the only one to tap out. No apology was given, I didn’t think he was even going to do anything about it, he was in such disbelief. Luckily one of the female servers overheard us and was quick to apologize on his behalf, simultaneously whacking the man on the arm for his careless mistake. He still didn’t seem to care much. She was the one to rushed a fresh full bowl of soya sauce back to us.

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Upon reflection the man above was no better in serving us either. His explanation of their hot pot process was confusing. He said we had the ability to select the quantity in what we ordered, but wouldn’t actually have our request honoured. He suggested that we just ticked what we wanted and they would tell us how much we could have. Basically bringing things out and disregarding the sheet that asks you how much you want of each item. As confusing as this sounded, and given how little we actually ended up finishing, the reasoning did make sense. Though I would have preferred that they communicate better instead. That they just read our selection and mention to us that we have ordered too much, and that they suggest less. Doing that instead of leaving us feeling like we are missing things when we got three pieces instead of the ten we distinctively wrote down in pencil.

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It’s $22 per person for all you can. A list of meat, seafood, vegetables, tofu, and noodles gives you over 70 raw items to boil up in your hot pot. You are required to pay for your soup base and have the option to add more extras in at an extra cost. It all seemed a little money hungry to me. You can’t have hot pot without the starting broth. And at $7.50, it seems steep for stock: meaty water that will be flavoured by the items we checked off and refilled with water when it boiled down. And the extras you had to pay for included some ingredients that were part of the all you can eat experience else where. And worst of all, as I mentioned earlier, additional sauces and a refill of what we were originally given came at an additional cost. The soy, garlic, and peanut sauce we didn’t have enough of and had to ration between three people. I wouldn’t be apposed to paying the fee, if I didn’t know other places offered sauces at no extra charge and allowed you to get as much or as little as you needed with no restrictions or hidden fees. These sauces were the only things really giving the food some seasoning, the broth cooked, but didn’t have enough in it to flavour.

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So we splurged on a 50 cents dish of minced garlic to rectify this. And as a result were able to stave off paying more for sauce. Sauce that other places offer as self serve, all you can have, on a bar cart. Upon seeing us scrape garlic into the broth, our server made an attempt to stop us in our “mistake”. I believe the intention was to have the garlic like a side, an additional sauce. But my Ukrainian guest loves her garlic and he couldn’t stop her quick enough.

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We also splurged by paying for two different flavours of broth. The Thai style “Tom yum Kong soup” and the “spare ribs broth”. There were four soups that came recommend with a thumbs up on the menu, and many more to choose from. Like a congee base, cilantro and preserved egg, peppercorn and pork stomach, and home style with a peanut sauce. Each cost the same $7.50. It was nice that both broths we ordered came with additional ingredients bobbling within its stock, though they were ingredients we could have ordered from the list of all we could eat anyways. In hind sight it didn’t makes much sense ordering two soup broths given that their flavouring doesn’t make much of a difference in the taste of each item boiled. Both the spicy and sour varieties of broth required flavour aides from the sauces. The two different soup bases get served in a split walled pot. This concept is great if you want to dine with someone who has dietary restrictions or doesn’t like to share their food or germs. Like someone who doesn’t eat seafood and therefore wants their own broth to fish from. But better yet just bring someone who eats meat and seafood, and doesn’t have any allergies. It is easier, as the service is communal and things do get mixed up.

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The meal began with us checking off our first and only round. You wait for the broth to boil before adding in ingredients, and again before fishing them out. I am not quite sure how they arranged raw ingredients to plate. But a few came on their own separate plastic dishes, and others as a piece on a platter. From left to right, top to bottom: beef cubes, fresh oyster, vermicelli knots, tofu puff, and fish tofu. With the dace fish paste you scooped lumps in and they boiled up like meat balls. The baby cuttlefish came with head and tentacle on a dish shared with shrimps. They too came with their heads and antennae still attached on shell. Though were not worth having and having to peel, it was just too much work. The squid tentacles had to be eaten in one mouthful, as they were too hard to chew through and to take in two parts. Beef omasum was its stomach. We just wanted enough to try, yet they choose this to give us more of. The enoki mushrooms cost us $3.80 a plate. They are delicious and part of the all you can eat menu at other places.

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All the vegetables came together: tomato, daikon, lotus root, bean curd stick, winter melon, and pumpkin. The bean vermicelli was separate.

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Each of the meat option came thinly sliced, in it’s own dish, stacked one on top of another. My only concern was for hygiene, an interest in how clean the bottom of each plate was. But I guess any bacteria would be cooked in the boiling soup. Beef ribeye, beef sirloin, pork jowl, lamb slices, and fatty pork slices.

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We ran out of room on our table so were set up with a side table to have the rest of our dishes sit on. All the balls came together: beef, pork, cuttlefish, squid, and fish. They looked smaller, half the size of ones at other places. The marinated beef was in sloppy chunks on its own plate.

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The wonton, shui-Kau, and chive dumplings were on the same platter. “Wontons” are most commonly filled with ground pork and shrimp with a small amount of flour added as a binder. Sui Kau” is a dumpling filled with pork, shrimps and bamboo shoots wrapped in a pastry. And the chive dumplings included a mix of beef and pork. The plate also had on it mussels, corn cob segments, chikuwa; and more fish tofu, more tofu puffs, and more vermicelli knots. “Chikuwa” is fish paste formed into cylinders and left hollow in the middle. They looked like giant beads to be treaded and had a gummy texture that was enjoyable to chew through. The chicken slices, squid hanamaki, and basa fillet came all together in chunks on a plate.

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We poured ingredients into broth at our discretion, cooking what we wanted, when and how much of it we wanted. One of the perks of having hot pot, is the control. Once cooked through we then, each used our own netted scoop to fish out what we wanted. Once again at our discretion, taking only what wanted and how much we wanted of it. When the liquid boiled down too low they simply added more water and you were able to continue. Like us, most people eat so much that they are left being too full to enjoy the broth. The soup is a mix of all that they had before, a rich stew of amalgamated flavours to sip on. I wonder if anyone has ever asked to take the leftover broth home? Cause technically you should be able to, you paid $7.50 for it and they will only pour it down the drain anyways.

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During our stay I pitied my guest who was forced to claim the single chair on the non-booth side of the table. And more to see his attempt at avoiding the smoke from the boiling pot that fumed around him. It was a struggle he lost as he had his glasses steam up and the action of it feel like steam during a facial. But to prevent the fumes from penetrating his clothes and jacket too much a seat cover was placed over his chair and his jacket draped over it. This chair hood was to prevent the smell of all the cooking from absorbing into his and other’s clothes. It was a nice gesture, but he wished they would have asked his permission before doing it. They were abrupt and without warning, a pull at his back, and a surprising un-consented touch.

Like the clearing of the sauces, we once again felt like the staff prematurely cut us off. Ending our night early by bringing over desserts and the bill before we were all done. It felt like they were stopping a drunk after too many at a bar. She brought over a complimentary desert for each of us, with the bill; and without asking, she shut off our burner while she was at it. Then she and her colleagues began bussing the table around us, while we timidly nibble. Still clearly seen bringing food to mouth, and with back hunched, lurching over our bowls.

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The square block of coconut pudding for dessert was at least refreshing. It was a nice, light way to end a heavy meal.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Colder weather brings about a craving for warmer food, and there is nothing more warming than sharing a hot pot with a friend or two. I just don’t recommend coming here for it. The food was only okay, made worse by the poor service and the lies we were told. Though it was the lack of sauces that took away from the experience and is the reason that I will not be coming back. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FATTY COW
5108 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC, V5P 3V2
604-568-6630
Fatty Cow Seafood Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot

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The newest location of a Fatty Sheep hot pot was definitely a step above the original. The one we usually visit is located across from Metrotown. We immediately took note of how the decor was dressed here, how the dish set provided looked more refined, and how the ambience carried more class; even despite the and more rambunctious crowd in tonight. Large groups of rowdy men were here to eat and drink to their heart’s content. All you can eat for $20.98.

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The decor was an improvement, even though it may not have been the best themed. We didn’t quite under stand the restaurant’s intended cabin feel. How the walls were intermittently laid with 70’s style wood paneling in alternating wooden tones. And how on each panel hung a framed oil painting of the country side in summer.

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As per its original location, all condiments are a help yourself affair. Luckily we knew to look for it from previous visits, as we were not given any directions, nor was anything signed. The cart itself was hidden at the side of their cash desk too. We observed the room and followed the crowd. There a trolley cart by the cash desk laid it all before you. On it, metal tubs filled with various sauces and oils, with scoops swimming in them. Given its shopped through nature it wasn’t the most appealing set up, but sauce is sauce and you needed a good sauce for hot pot. Soy sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, and chilli oil.

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Your meal begins by checking off of a list, we as a table of three. The ingredients are all you can eat, but the soup base in which you need to cook it in comes at a cost, $9.98. The original house special mix, a spicy version, or a mix of both. Both broths ar no additional cost seemed like the best value. The pot is one, split into two halves by a welded on centre divide. Obviously something custom, as this pot seems like it would be a hassle in everyday cooking. The built in table coil heats up the broth, it is slow going. At this point you are hungry and anxious and waiting is no fun. Above each coil is a vent to suck up smoke, and a sprinkler if anything should catch on fire.

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Through out the meal, when your broth or broths run low a server is able to top you off with a pitcher of soup. The same soup base goes into every pot, regardless of it being spicy or not. Though the spicy broth didn’t taste any spicer. I suspect it garnered its name from the abundance of chillies floating in the mix, though we only found them a hassle. We tediously fished each one out out. The spicy in the “house special spicy” referred to the use of chillis. Chillies that would make a mouthful spicy if you bit into one.

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As for what goes into the soup, you
chose what you want through a series of numbers. Each item has its own serving and you number how many of each you want. Meats, seafood, meatballs, mushroom & fungus, wonton & dumplings, vegetable, tofu & gluten, and noodles. Everything to be cooked belonged to either one of these categories. With cooked items, additional condiments, and beverages listed as an additional cost. The grilled meat and seafood on skewers were $1.50 each, but the cold Korean appetizers came at no cost. In the future I may splurge on additional condiments like sesame oil, persevered bean curd, fresh chives, and garlic for only $1. Especially garlic, given how much my guests enjoyed eating the whole cloves that came as one of the many ingredients floating in the “house special broth”.

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We have a strategy when it comes to all your can eat hot pot. It starts with a small order of the expensive stuff. You max the first round on the pricier items.This guarantees it won’t be forgotten or missed on purpose. And better yet, you enjoy it more on an empty stomach. The second round check off are the more familiar meets and vegetables. I am always disappointed at how much we are able to eat. We go in planning multiple rounds, only to barely complete two, then cooking down what we cannot finish in the pot. It’s like burning the evidence of being greedy. I doubt they reuse ingredients guests don’t finish, or at least I hope they don’t. And we are lucky that they don’t charge you extra for it. I dislike that policy. How do you know how much you can eat if you don’t try to eat all that you can?

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We were given two scoops to share between three people. Ladles to fish out our desired ingredients. One with holes to only catch boiled food and drain out broth. And the second to scoop up everything in one fell swoop. I often hear the argument that hot pot is paying to cook for yourself. To them I say, it more about the experience than the actual meal. The need to choose ingredients as a group, and to negotiate what to put in brings a party together. It is bonding through food. Then when it comes time to scoop, you are able to be picky and just take what you want. And don’t forget, once the cooking is done you are left with a hearty soup, as all your chosen ingredients have added its flavour to the broth. Though drink it fast after you turn off the heat. Once it congeals it is not much to look at.

The staff were pretty hands off, a younger group that congregated around the cash desk. They chatted amongst themselves and waited for you to hail them. There was no conversation between each drop off, no check in to see if you were liking what you were having. Though technically ordering your desired items and having to cook it all yourself means, if you don’t like anything you only have yourself to blame. We were also not given any utensils to drop raw seafood and meats into the boiling pot. No communal use utensils. Though instead of attempting to a server’s attention and waiting for what I wanted, I felt I was better off stretching past our table’s barricade, to grab a few wrapped disposable chopsticks off the set table beside ours.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is one of our preferred hot pot place for its extensive menu and its multiple sauces. Which include some interesting ingredients like squid tube, dried pork rinds, gluten, pork blood curd and bung, mutton balls, and kelp knots. Where often, hot pot becomes a one note flavour that grows tired on the palette. But here with its multiple offerings, you only stop eating because the meat sweats have begun. My tip don’t fill up on the noodles and eat your weight in meat. Don’t deny your cravings.

LITTLE SHEEP
101-1788 W. Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6J3J3
604-563-4868
Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot on Urbanspoon

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