The Winter weather has well and truly arrived. And as much as I loathe cold wintery mornings, it does mean perfect weather for hot pot!
Seriously, is there anything that screams warmth and comfort quite like a pot of hot soup bubbling away right in front of you? (If there is, I’d love to know!)
We’re loving the abundance of hot pot options that have popped up over the past couple of years. One of the newcomers in this area is Yuan’s Hot Pot. And because hot pot is not complete without good company, we’re here with a group of fellow passionate foodies that is the FCBA for a delicious lunch feed. And we sure left feeling satisfied!
Situated on George Street towards the Railway Square side of Haymarket, it’s the hungry International Students from the local uni’s that will probably populate Yuan’s Hot Pot. And you can tell by the brightly coloured decor (check out the the panda figures at the door) that this is probably their target market anyway. It’s modern. It’s different. And it’s fun. We like it!
For the uninitiated, hot pot basically involves cooking your own ingredients in a pot of boiling soup. First, pick your soup base, then your choice of food to cook. Throw it all in and enjoy!
And whilst you can do the same in your own kitchen, what you don’t get at home is the tastiness of the soup bases as well as some of the more unique ingredients. At Yuan’s Hot Pot, many are imported straight from China.
The Soup Base:
Yuan’s Hot Pot specialises in the tongue numbing spicy chilli soup base. And the waitress was not joking when she said it was real spicy! The deep red hues give a bit of a hint as to the spiciness that will come!
For a little extra fun (and spice) you can get additional chilli oil shaped into a variety of cute looking characters. I’m talking the likes of Hello Kitty, Panda, Bear or Doraemon. Just be warned, it looks cute and all that, but once the hot soup goes in, a melting Hello Kitty is not the prettiest sight!
If you can take the spice, go for the chilli soup base. It’s one of the tastiest bases you can order. But be warned. The heat builds up real quick! Luckily, there is also the option of having two flavours in the one pot so we balance the spice out with a herbal soup base.
And then there’s the food.
Take a walk to the back of the restaurant. There’s a room filled with an impressive selection of add ins for your hot pot. There’s seriously anything you could ever want for your hot pot here. Think fish balls, meat, crabstick, tofu and veggies!
Yuan’t Hot Pot is a skewer style hot pot restaurant which means that the majority of their options come on bamboo skewers. This means yes, you can even get a couple of leaves of buk choy in a skewer. Theoretically, this should make it easier to keep track of where your food is (losing food in hot pot is much more common than you think!). But we found the skewers a bit clunky and ended up pulling them all out anyway.
It’s very reasonably priced as well, with each skewer setting you back 80 cents. Between our table of 4 fell shy of 50 skewers- that’s only $10 each!
And then there’s the things that don’t really skewer, like tofu. So instead they’re plated. Similar to the sushi train system, these are priced by plate shape/colour and there’s everything from tofu, fish slices to lotus root. For the more adventurous diners, there’s even options of duck blood jelly, gizzards and duck feet.
You’ll find the hot pot staple of beef slices on the a la carte menu. This makes sense because they’re rolled into cigars and frozen. The beef, sliced impressively thin, takes a few seconds to cook right through and is meltingly tender, a result of the fat marbling. And if marbling is your thing, get the lamb slices too. They’re similar to the beef but with an even impressive marbling.
There’s also an enticing seafood menu. We try the shrimp paste balls, similar to fish balls but the fresh prawns makes all the difference when it comes to taste and texture. Our order of scallops come frozen, but taste delightfully sweet and delicate when cooked.
Dessert doesn’t often follow hot pot, but if you ordered the spicy soup base, you’ll want to order the Ice Jelly. It’s nothing flash, but the combination of jelly, watermelon, sultanas and haw flakes are just the right combination of sweet and cool to soothe your numbing tongue.