Lets's Hotpot: At Home or around the ‘Hood
We are well into October. We can feel it in the air that Winter is fast approaching. While many of us rejoice that 2021 (and hopefully Covid) is soon over, Hong Kong's cooler weather gives us another excuse to be happy. We can Hotpot!! For those who are not familiar with this word, it is a hot, spicy, well balanced meal, that we Hong Kongers oh so love!!
And it so happens that China's royalty too 😁😁. Indeed, gathering around a hotpot with family and friends was a popular pastime of Emperor Kangxi back in the 17th century. Emperor Kangxi celebrated his 69th birthday by holding a hotpot feast for the elderly in the Forbidden City to show respect and to build connections with the ordinary people. It was recorded in the Ancient Chinese Library in Four Sections (四庫全書) thus: “To respect the elderly is to do right by the heavens, the earth and the people. ( 尊老者，天之經，地之義，民之行也。)”.
Some member of our team went Hotpotting (again!!!0 but this time for the benefit of our readers. Here are the insider tips on how to hotpot:
Step 1: Choice of Pot & Utensils
The choice of pot for hotpot can be as simple as using any pot you have lying around the house which fits the portable stove. However, this means the everyone else joining you must partake in the same pot. If you have a mix of guests with variety of dietary restrictions or needs, then you’ll need a half-half pot.
Half-half hotpot with different soup bases vs single serve hotpot.
Apart from the pot, you need utensils of at least 2 sets of wooden chopsticks for each person so that they can get the raw ingredients with one set of chopsticks and pick up the cooked ingredients with the other set.
Do not use metal utensils as you’ll get burned from heat conduction, although a special hotpot strainer spoon is usually used for quickly cooking thinly sliced meats and taking the spoon out as soon as the meat is cooked.
In Pic: Soup filter spoon and hotpot strainer spoon
Step 2: Prepare Hotpot Soup
Nearly everything under the sun can be used for hotpot soup or hotpot ingredients. No-fuss method is to dump chicken broth, miso soup broth or veggie broth in the pot then heat up. Slightly fancier method is to buy hotpot soup packets available in supermarkets. Fanciest method is to make homemade hotpot soups like seafood broth or mushroom broth. Be sure to keep extras to add to the hotpot at regular intervals. For those who want to try before making, here are some good hotpot restaurants in the Hood:
1. YP Chicken Pot Premium
Address: Shop A, G/F, Gold Union Commercial Building, No.70-72 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan (just opposite Sun Yat Sen park, hourly parking available)
Tel: 2857 7987
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-12:00 pm, Sat-Sun & public hols: 4:00 pm-11:45 pm
Tip: Must-try the Japanese hotpot soup or the homemade satay hotpot soup
2. Megan’s Kitchen
Address: 5F, Lucky Centre, 165-171 Wan Chai Rd., Wan Chai
Tel: 2866 8305
Hours: Mon-Sun 12:00-3:00 pm, 6:00-11:30 pm
Tip: Lunchtime hotpots are under HK$200 per person with single pot and choice of hotpot ingredients. Vegetarian hotpots and variety of vegetarian ingredients available. Listed 9 years in Michelin guide.
3. Hot Pot Land
Address: Shop 1, G/F, Pak Hoo Mansion, Yat Fu Lane, 554-560 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui, Western District
Tel: 28788001, 66835853 (Whatsapp)
Hours: Mon-Sun (including public hols) 5:30 pm-3:00 am
Tips: Great spot for instagramming as the ingredients, pots and utensils are elegantly presented.
In Pic: Beancurd with egg shaved ice dessert placed in an Emperor’s cup (Image from review on Hot Pot Land at www.openrice.com)
4. Xiao Yu Hotpot Restaurant
Address: 1/F, Westview Height, 163 Belcher's Street, Kennedy Town, Western District
Tel: 2890 6678
Hours: Mon-Tues, Thurs-Sun 12:00-12:00, Wed time varies
Tip: For Chongqing spicy hotpot
Step 3: Prep the Ingredients
In pic: Deep fried beancurd sheet
The ingredients are up to you but for the true foodie connoisseurs, it’s a must to get the freshest and best thinly sliced cuts of beef, mutton, pork and homemade meatballs, fishballs and live seafood.
In Pic: Thinly sliced Spanish pork
For vegetarians, must-haves are baby Chinese cabbage (娃娃菜), Chinese mushrooms (冬菇) or straw mushrooms, silky tofu (軟豆腐), homemade deep fried beancurd sheet (響鈴), omnipork vegetarian meatballs, and choice of noodles like vermicelli or japanese udon. For the meat, cook in the hotpot until it turns brown. For the meatballs, cook until they float in the hotpot soup.
Hotpotting is a happy-go-lucky wing-it way to serve meals to family and friends. Try at a restaurant near you or try DIY. `
Special thanks to Wu Yongpeng for hotpot restaurant recos.