With Vancouver in between seasons we are simultaneously looking to keep cool, and yet have warmth when we want it. Therefore Liuyishou’s latest promotion comes in at the most impromptu time.
We all know the popular Chinese dish which is basically miscellaneous ingredients brought to boil at your table, then scooped to eat. But did you know there is a dry version? And from September 16th to the 30th you can get/try it for yourself for $35. The combo includes your chosen hot pot, a large serving of fried rice, and two beers of your choosing. The ideal meal for two. Great as a spicy and tasty lunch, but better as a way to wind down your night with some comforting flavours.
Dry Hot Pot is basically regular hot pot, but without the need for you to cook any of it. You choose your main protein and have the possibility of adding on a slew of other meat and vegetable options. Although, we found the standard set worked just fine. We went with Prime Sliced Beef Hot Spicy Pot over the other options of New Zealand lamb, pacific white shrimp, vegetable, and/or the ability to build your own. Given how rich in flavour and heavy the dish is as a whole, I find the beef a great choice. It was accompanied by potato, black fungus, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and seaweed knots; all in a black peppercorn and chilli oil heavy sauce. Despite all the red flakes visible, this was actually the mild version. You eat it like regular hot pot, picking and choosing what you want and dipping it into sauce for its main flavour.
One of my favourite feature of Liuyishou is their build your own sauce bar. A collection of sauces, oil, spreads, and toppings to help you curate your perfect flavour combinations. Therefore if your meal to come isn’t tasty enough, you have only yourself to blame. This bar space also houses appetizers and snacks, ideal as bits and bites with beer. All help yourself with unlimited refills. Bring the Iikes of peanuts, pickled cabbage, edamame, and canned peaches to your table.
With all the flavour already in the dry hot pot and now with the inclusion of sauces, rice is needed as a base. You need something to help cut into all that heat and savoury mouth feel. That’s why this combo is so perfect, it thinks of everything and presents the perfect meal before you. Your choice of rice is between the classic egg fried rice or one with beef and Chinese sauerkraut. We went for the latter, which came with a variety of ingredients, however you really couldn’t make out any of it. It simply offers a textured base to blend out the hot pot above.\
Similarly, the couple of beers that this set comes with offer the ideal drink to meal pairing. Get it and the whole set to share, or enjoy both beers yourself and save the leftovers above for later. Sitting after a couple of days doesn’t make this feast any less tasty, even after a spin in a microwave. I cannot recommend and rave about this more. I have already referred the takeout option to a few friends, but back then this combo didn’t exist. So now is the chance to try this for yourself.
If having dry hot pot causes you fomo, in seeing others enjoy a regular wet hot pot, might I suggest the mini hot pot? Available during lunch service, this rationed serving is plenty for two. Like the combo above this one too comes with rice and a drink; and like the combo above it is all well crafted to pair well with one another. But at $18.95 it is only a bowl of steamed white rice and a can of coke that you get in addition. Meant for one, but eats for two. We chose the seafood option with hot soup, but the mild version (ironically). The other options were a milder, but just as flavourful tomato broth or a tangy and sour Tom Yum Goog. The meat choice included braised angus short rib, hand sliced beef, lamb, or seafood.
We went for the latter and its menu description included sole fish, cuttlefish, and shrimp. However what arrived at our table was without cuttlefish, but had mussels in shell instead. Similarly the menu listed Chinese cabbage, black fungus, bamboo shoot, seaweed knots, and enoki mushroom as part of the hot pot, but what we got substituted bamboo shoots for potato. Truth be told, the substitutions did not effect the meal much. It was hot and spicy with the both. But once again, tasted like how you wanted with your own sauce blend.
Once we wore our hot pot down, we were able to order/try Liuyishou’s new Dragonfruit shrimp paste. This bold fuchsia dish is playfully shaped like the restaurant’s thumbs up logo. You cut into it with the spoon provided, and begin doling out small balls of shrimp paste to cook within the boiling broth. In hindsight, I should have left them as larger chunks, I feel that it would be more enjoyable to chew across two bites and that the flavour would be more prominent. We really didn’t get much or any dragon fruit. Knowing it was there did make the shrimp paste blobs feel fresher against the tongue. But there was no new or additional flavour. I would have expected both main ingredients to make a larger impact together.
Another new menu item (advertised at the table), that I had to try was the Squid ink coated fried pork topped with gold flake. This was an interesting one. If not for the addition of gold dust to elevate the dish, the dyed black pork would be off putting. Aesthetic aside, I didn’t taste anything from the squid ink or gold. The flavour of the chewy and sinewy pork chunks is the numbing spicy chilli powder, that dunk your piece of meat in to and enjoy. A different dish, one that is not comforting nor nostalgic, but simply different.
In closing, I am very impressed with Liuyishou. I have visited their downtown location on several occasions now and upon each, the food has always been a stand out, the staff cordial, and the setting modern and fun. I have never had a bad time at Liuyishou, and if they keep churning out creative promotions and showcasing the quality of the food and drink like this, there doesn’t seem to be an end on sight.
Liuyishou Hotpot Robson
1542 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G 1C2