The Warmth Around Hotpots

The Warmth Around Hotpots

Be it ala carte or buffet, there are so many of us who enjoy a good steamboat lunch and dinner. With so many styles of steamboat establishments emerging in Singapore, which are the ones that you fancy?
Siming T
Siming T

The ambience here at Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hot Pot was very conducive on a weekday night. Not sure if it was because the restaurant was less heard of or because it was slightly away from the heart of Chinatown restaurants, but I thought it was a nice environment for a hearty hotpot dinner.

Some tables allowed for two soup bases to be selected, while those for bigger tables have room for four. While they offered Spicy soup base (S$16.00 for single soup base, up to S$20.00 for two), the level of spiciness differed from my usual encounters at other steamboat restaurants. In fact, since the soup bases were mostly more authentically flavourful with meat broth, they also tasted delicious at any point during the meal without being too salty.

For those who wanted a just a quick meal, the restaurant also provided individual hot pots with one soup base, for only S$5.00!


Crowds seemed to be gathering at CouCou for two main reasons, which was to enjoy a hotpot meal, to buy bubble tea, or perhaps even a combination of both.

There was a slight delay in getting seated, even though my friend had made a reservation for 8.00pm. We were made known that our dining time was limited to two hours, and it came as a small shock to us when we were told to make our last order by 8.30pm. Of course, we kind of frantically selected our orders accordingly.

The soup base provided here could not be customised, so we were a little apprehensive when there we could not reduce the spice level for their Taiwan Style Spicy Soup Base, so we thought of reducing the heat with their Coconut-Chicken Soup Base to complement.

However, one thing I had to give a special mention to was their service, as the waitress told us not to order too much vegetable dishes, as most dishes would also include some decorative greens that could be eaten as well. And not to mention the complimentary fruit slush that were served to us as palate cleansers.

Lastly, having bubble tea to go with the meal might appear a little odd for me, as I was quite used to having herbal beverages or just iced water during a steamboat. Nonetheless, it didn’t kill to go for a cup of bubble tea here, just for experience sake.

As F&B businesses started to pick up from the pandemic madness, one of the impressive deals at Compass One would be the Extended Lunchtime Special at Paradise Hotpot, where one can get significant discounts for their first orders. Imagine coming in between 2.31pm and 4.15pm and be told that there would be a 40% discount on the first order sent to the kitchen, and that would make absolute sense to have hotpot late lunch, afternoon “snack” or super early dinner.

Those who could not wait till 2.30pm for your meal, fret not! The original Lunchtime Special featured the items at 30% off, so there would still be some discounts to stretch the dollar a bit.

And for those who did not find the need to enjoy your individual pots, the fact is that you could share it with your fellow diner(s), on the premise that you all were having the same soup base.

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Mookata had rooted itself in the heartlands, particularly in coffee shops where spacious outdoor seating is available. With an easy portable stove and cast iron plate setup, what would make one Mookata better than the others would be based on either competitive pricing or tasty flavours.

Over at Bedok Central, Jiak Mookata served up their a la carte plates of dishes from S$1.90 onwards. The flavours were on point one could get a really hearty meal at under S$30.00. Personally, I liked their Prawn Paste and their Garlic Sliced Pork, especially since the former had large chunks of prawns mixed in.

Though the dine-in restrictions had also put a toll on these coffee shop stalls, they also could provide a delivery service with all equipment included. Diners could still enjoy Mookata at home, and pack them up for the restaurant’s collection after the meal, at no additional costs. With the rainy season coming soon, this could be a good option to have a good time with friends and family over some tasty collagen soup and grilled marinated meats.


I wished I could turn back time, so that I would not get their Ravishing Tomato Soup (S$5.30) as the soup base of my hotpot.

Pardon my bluntness, but no amount of free soft toys would be able to compensate the disappointing taste that was close to bottled tomato ketchup with water. It was a far cry from tomato soup bases that I had tried from other hotpot chains across the island.

On the other hand, when I saw that their Vegetarian Soup was cheaper (S$3.80) and came with some vegetarian ingredients inside, I wondered if it would make sense to try that instead the next time.

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When the cravings for hot pot came at 9.30pm at night and the famous steamboat restaurant chain at [email protected] told us that the waiting time would be about 60 - 90 minutes, my friends and I chanced upon Upin Hot Pot.

The damage for five hungry diners amounted to about S$30.00 per pax for this ala carte hot pot, which I thought was still within a wallet-friendly range. In terms of the soup bases, I was a little disappointed with their Tomato Soup because it tasted more than a rich tomato broth, to the point that it tasted like some ketchup was also added to it. Similarly, the Pork Bone Soup broth might also have a tad too much herbs added in, and herbal Tonkotsu was not something I was prepared for (on the contrary the Chicken Soup might go better with herbal finishes). What we all liked the most was their Mushroom Soup base, which tasted more natural. We sort of even joked that with the amount of mushrooms in the pot, we could skip ordering mushrooms for the meal.

Condiments and cut fruits were available at the bar, but with an additional charge of S$3.00 per pax. Three of us went ahead to get the sauce without informing the staff, but I must say that they were attentive and did not charge that for all five.

I would not use the word “pampering” for this meal, but for a steamboat dinner, I considered this as “satisfying”.

The Prawn Soup Base was simply unforgettable because of its richness, and the quality is comparable with some of those renowned prawn noodles out there. The best way to enjoy it is to constantly scoop the soup into your bowls, so that the staff can regularly refill the pot, just to ensure that the soup does not taste too heavy on sodium. Their other signature soup base — Healthy Collagen — tasted a tad too bland for my liking, or maybe that was just because it was compared against the Prawn Soup Base and the Si-Chuan Soup Base.

Pity that some of the tastier items in the menu are only available as ala-carte items, as those are the ones (read: prawn balls, prawn paste and Japan Kurobuta pork belly) that will probably make me want to come back for more. The rest of the dishes available under the buffet were fine but lacked that surprise, as you would probably get the same stuff from other steamboat buffets.

Their steamboat comes in both ala-carte and buffet dinner options, with the latter priced at S$34.80 for two hours of dining (not inclusive of drinks).


One of the plus points of dining at Le Le Pot is that they offer both ala-carte and buffet pricings. For a weekend buffet dinner, the charges per head is S$25.90, and this pricing excludes the soup base (S$5.00 per pot, choice of up to two soup bases), wet tissue and beverages.

Given the choices of food available for the buffet, I find that this is a relatively good deal. And if I must recommend something good, please remember to order their Fried Chicken Wings to complement the steamboat. The rest of the carbs, in my humble opinion, can be missed.


Hai Di Lao was a household name to steamboat lovers for many reasons. Some like to indulge in up to four types of soup bases in one meal; some will think that it is entertaining to watch the noodle master’s live in action; some will say that they are pampered from the time they step in until they leave the place; and some will simply visit because of positive reviews.

However, as an informed diner, I know that Hai Di Lao Hot Pot is not heaven for steamboat goers, but more of an experience of slightly above average food with service that exceeds expectations. I thought that their Beef Ball with Cheese was quite delicious, but apart from that, most of the other things in the menu seem to be no different from other steamboat buffet restaurants.

That said, I really loved their Tomato Soup Base, for the fact that it was tangy enough without appearing to be too salty at first contact.

Reservations at this restaurant is almost like a mandatory action, so long as you are not willing to stand or sit at the waiting area. Some say the reservation window period is about one week in advance, but if you are really lucky, you might be allocated a table for 2 or 4 if reservation is made the day before. Just make sure you start the meal with an empty stomach.

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When Golden Mile Complex houses so many Mookata shops, this one is probably the most appealing to me. At a nett price of S$29.90 per pax, the charges cover everything at unlimited portions, including their mozzarella and nacho cheese dip, meats, seafood, frozen foods, vegetables, rice, noodles, drinks and ice cream. It is just so comprehensive and basically one is not allowed to say that they leave this place feeling less than bloated.

I felt that some of the marinated meats are really tasty, and the bland foods are just meant to be dipped into the cheese or satay sauce dips. However the satay sauce was really not fantastic, so I did not pay much attention to it.

If there is really a downside to dining here, I can only say that this downside applies to all Mookata restaurants over here: be prepared to feel grimy and smell oily.

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Now this is something that is really off the menu, but as soon as you had enough of steamboat and are ready to take in some carbs to end off the meal, simply inform the staff that you would like a COCA Porridge.

What the staff will do next is to get some cooked rice (I suggest two persons to one bowl of rice), chopped spring onions and an egg, and the staff will cook the porridge, using the broth with all the essence from the steamboat, in your presence. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, watch how the rice transforms into some super-yummy porridge.

The safe option is always to choose to cook the porridge using the chicken soup, but if you are more adventurous and are willing to try something more exotic, go for the porridge in Tom Yum broth.

Quoting what the staff had told me, they are more than happy to prepare this at no extra charge, provided that they are not operating at high capacity.


Many years ago, we go to Marina South for affordable BBQ Steamboat Buffet and stuff ourselves silly there. Many of us around my age (or older) can relate to that.

Today I have practically relived the good ol' days of BBQ steamboat with the Pagoda Steamboat by Flame Cafe. On top of the BBQ and steamboat (literally), they also provide a layer of steamer and a layer of sauce dip.

I would say that the cheese fondue is a popular and relatively safe option to choose, though Salted Yolk dip sounded delicious too. I can never imagine myself dunking Tom Yum salmon into chocolate sauce.

For the price you pay for the ala carte buffet, you also get to enjoy free flow beverages, ice cream and fruits, so it's really a good deal per se.

What's more exciting? Burpple has an ongoing promotion with Flame Café till 31 May 2017. You just have to follow some simple steps to enjoy your Pagoda Steamboat at S$19.90 per person for lunch and dinner, any day. Chope your tables now!


Siming T

Level 9 Burppler · 1116 Reviews

First world problem: What to eat for the next meal?

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