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Hotpot All Day Errday

Hotpot All Day Errday

Hotpot isn’t just for CNY reunions. It’s the ultimate comfort food during the rainy seasons and just plain awesome whether it’s homemade or outside.
Melissa Chee
Melissa Chee

The Chicken Pots come in three sizes - small, medium & large. The small one costs $20 and is valid for Burpple Beyond redemption - yay!

Just a look at the Numbing & Fiery pot and you can tell it’s gonna be numbing with those generous stalks of peppercorns. We opted for the 小辣 as we weren’t sure how hot it would be, and didn’t want to unknowingly torture our stomachs at 10pm. Turns out we needn’t have worried about the spiciness, because the numbing taste was what we should’ve looked out for.

The portion in the small pot was pretty good for one person and it was very cheap with the 1 for 1 redemption. There’s only chicken in the pot, but it’s tender and super flavourful. You can add on ingredients to cook (you can DIY or ask the staff to put it in directly when serving), which soaks up the amazing flavours. Would recommend putting in some beancurd skin especially if you love ma la cos it soaks up the taste pretty well! It’s worth noting that the service here is great - friendly, super attentive and helpful, they even switched to English when conversing when we had confused faces on. Would totally go back to Fat Bird not just for their hotpots, but for their Main Dishes too!

There are four signature flavours eligible for Burpple Beyond Chicken Pot redemption and this is one of them. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, yet want something full of savoury flavour, this would be a good choice.

I’ve tried a handful of chicken pots, and I would say this is the best I’ve had so far. The sauce is thick, fragrant and well balanced. It’s definitely not too salty, even if you eat it without rice. The portions of chicken in the small pot are good enough for 1 person, but you can always add more ingredients if you like. I particularly liked adding beancurd skin inside this pot to cook and soak up the savoury gravy.

Preferred having this pot ‘to go long’ over the ma la flavour, but it was nice to have the Numbing & Fiery chicken after a few bites of the House Special for that sudden punch of spice. Both of them make a good combination to order with Burpple Beyond!

Just one of the add-on ingredients available at Fat Bird for the Chicken Pot. Kind of wish they would serve the add-ons as a pick as many varieties as you wish (chargeable by weight) or in half portions like HDL as they’re pretty sizeable and you can’t order that many unless you have a large group (the size does justify the price of $3.80 a dish though).

Tried the self-heating hot pots from HDL (purchased from NTUC). This one was the tomato base hot pot which is completely vegetarian. It comes with flat rice noodles, dehydrated potato slices, black fungus, mushroom and capsicum. Setting it up is fairly simple although we took a while to figure it out for fear of pouring the wrong thing in the containers 😂 basically you just have to pour the ingredients in the white bowl on top, fill the bowl with water to the indicated line (I would recommend filling it less than that if you don’t like diluted soup), lift the bowl up and put the heat pack below and fill with water to cover the heat pack. Cover with the lid and stand back to watch the magic happen.

It takes about 15 minutes for this to cook, but it makes a good meal for one! You might have to add on some meat or protein sources, as well as some green veggies, but other than that, the tomato soup is indeed similar to what you can get at the restaurant itself (just a bit too diluted, will add less water next time). Really enjoyed the noodles, even more than regular rice vermicelli or glass noodles! But don’t let them cook too long as they become fragile and hard to pick up with chopsticks without breaking the strands. Was pleasantly surprised that the potatoes cooked through and became super tender, the slices were very thin so that’s probably why though! While the hotpot is a little pricey (close to $10), it’s certainly more convenient and a viable choice for when you want hotpot at home for one!

Visited Xiao Jun Gan for a late dinner/supper at 10pm and it was pretty crowded on a Friday night! There are issues parking around the Beach Road eateries as it’s quite hard to find a parking lot so we ended up parking at Shaw Tower and walking across the street.

Xiao Jun Gan offers hotpot buffets for $25.90++, and $27.90++ on Friday, and weekends. We went for the yuan yang double broth - and the server recommended their signature ma la broth with the clear soup. This was a great recommendation. I loved the fiery heat and tingling numbness of the ma la broth which was just right. Not as numbing as HDL’s but this one was actually possible to drink (somewhat)! I especially enjoyed dipping the you tiao lok lok and fried mini mantous into this broth as they soaked up the ma la goodness! The clear soup was a good complement to the ma la broth as it was light, but the flavours started to get more pronounced as it boiled longer and we had a super flavourful broth by the middle of our meal. The selection of ingredients is good too - from a variety of veggies, fishcakes and marinated meats on skewers, to the MLXG/YTF-esque style ingredients where you ‘kiap’ your own veg, meat, seafood, tofu and more. They have fish roe filled tofu and fishcake available- yay! What impressed me was the seafood selection of scallops, crabs, prawns, and they even had octopus too!!!!

While you’re waiting for your ingredients to cook (which admittedly doesn’t take long), there’s appetisers that you can opt for. There’s sour and spicy chilled silken tofu and dou Gan which tasted great! There’s also fried mini mantous and watermelon and pineapples. This section doesn’t get refilled so often unlike the hotpot ingredients though.

The seasoning section is not bad, not as comprehensive as HDL but I’m happy as long as there’s chilli, sesame paste and peanuts. There’s also apparently a can of special oil that they leave at your table which you can mix in with the condiments at an extra cost but we didn’t go for that this round.

Note that the pot is quite shallow so sometimes the ingredients on skewers don’t get fully submerged, especially when the soup has evaporated. But the staff are quite attentive and come refill the soups often.

An extra plus is that the boss is super friendly and attentive. He’s on the ground helping out the rest of the staff to clear plates, refill soup broths, checking if the diners need anything, etc. He also told us that the ma la broth is customisable so we can make it more or less spicy/numbing. They also have an ala carte MLXG available - which we might just come and try next time!

This is definitely a place I would return to, and it’s a great supper place that opens till 7am! Whoop!

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I really enjoy having hotpot with family and friends at HDL, especially with the ma la broth and tomato broth. The ma la broth has an addictive and spicy kick that leaves your lips and tongue tingling but you just can’t help wanting more! With the HDL ma la hot pot seasoning now easily available at local supermarkets, we can whip up our own ma la hot pot anytime and did exactly that for our CNY dinner. The taste was pretty similar to the broth at the restaurant itself, but one downside is that you can’t really customise the level of spiciness, numbness or oil as it’s packaged in a single bag. I guess it’s always possible to drain the oil first but then there’ll be more stuff to wash huh. This is one hotpot seasoning that I’ll keep in constant rotation.

Note to self though - DON’T add in fa cai, seaweed, or anything that tends to pick up small particles as tons of peppercorns get entangled inside and it’s a real challenge to get them out, so you could end up with a Szechuan peppercorn bomb in your mouth if you’re not careful! 😂🤣

Visited Upin for a small pre-CNY gathering with friends after reading some reviews that it’s the more affordable and ‘some say even better’ than HDL option.

I made a reservation online requesting for a table overlooking the river (definitely do that because the view is nice!). Since it was for CNY, I also asked if it was possible to order Yu sheng or bring our own. They do serve Yu sheng but it requires one day advance booking. I received a call from them the day after confirming the reservation and asking about the Yu sheng. I’m a jiak kantang so I get antsy when Chinese restaurants call me especially if they speak mandarin - thank goodness this wasn’t the case here. The lady who called to confirm my reservation was very pleasant.

There was no queue at Upin when I arrived at 6.30pm and was promptly escorted to our table overlooking Clarke Quay. Like HDL, drinks are free flow but with additional charge (except for water). Condiments - similar situation. They pressed us to order the broths we wanted despite 3/5 of our group still absent. A max of 3 broths can be ordered, so we opted for mushroom, tomato and ma la. I do think the broths are pretty yummy, and they can go toe to toe with HDL, although the fragrance of the ma la broth wasn’t as strong or spicy.

Yu sheng was served after the hotpot. When it arrived, the colour on the dish looked quite dull. Not the usual vibrant colours of Yu sheng that excite me. The veg didn’t taste very fresh, and we didn’t enjoy the Yu sheng much. But of course they are a hotpot restaurant, so I can’t hold it against them. Would definitely give this a miss if I ever visited during CNY period again.

Overall, the decor isn’t as fancy, the service isn’t as attentive or friendly, nor are the ingredient and condiment selections as extensive as HDL. But it is definitely a more affordable option - so if budget is what’s on your mind - Upin is a viable alternative. For me though, there are other hotpot places I’d give a try before returning here, and I’d stick with HDL for the times I want to splurge on hot pot.

I really enjoy having hotpot with family and friends at HDL, especially with the ma la broth and tomato broth. The ma la broth has an addictive and spicy kick that leaves your lips and tongue tingling but you just can’t help wanting more! With the HDL ma la hot pot seasoning now easily available at local supermarkets, we can whip up our own ma la hot pot anytime and did exactly that for our CNY dinner. The taste was pretty similar to the broth at the restaurant itself, but one downside is that you can’t really customise the level of spiciness, numbness or oil as it’s packaged in a single bag. I guess it’s always possible to drain the oil first but then there’ll be more stuff to wash huh. This is one hotpot seasoning that I’ll keep in constant rotation.

Note to self though - DON’T add in fa cai, seaweed, or anything that tends to pick up small particles as tons of peppercorns get entangled inside and it’s a real challenge to get them out, so you could end up with a Szechuan peppercorn bomb in your mouth if you’re not careful! 😂🤣

Made a trip to the newly opened Little Sheep Hot Pot, although we had a reservation for 4 at 7pm, I was given a queue number to wait and asked if I only wanted a table indoors or if I was ok outdoors. There was pleasant weather today and the view outside is pretty spectacular since One Fullerton faces MBS and you get a gorgeous view of the city skyline, as well as the River Angbao, iLight and Prudential MBC during this time of the year. I only got a table at 7.20pm but that’s not too bad.

We opted for the signature soup base made with chicken and beef bone and the spicy soup base for old times sake (used to have their packaged soup bases with my university friends in winter time in Australia). Surprisingly, the soups were chock full of garlic and spices. They were flavourful, and the non-spicy signature soup base was more peppery than the packaged one. The spicy one was not very spicy at all, but came packed with chillies. This definitely can’t hold a candle to HDL ma la base as there’s no ma or la feeling at all. In fact, this soup is perfectly drinkable although I would advise against it as there’s probably a fair bit of MSG (all of us that drank the soups felt super thirsty after). There’s also a tomato soup base which we would’ve tried, but you can only order 2 soup bases here so we had to skip it this time.

I would recommend ordering the spicy base if you intend to order some lamb meat. I guess Mongolians eat a lot of lamb meat, and the spices in the spicy base are essential in masking the strong smell of lamb (especially in the fattier cuts). I didn’t enjoy the fattier lamb shabu (which was in the middle tier in the picture), but the leaner cuts were quite manageable for me. Two of my friends were enjoyed the fattier cuts though. We ordered the beef and lamb platter and it was pretty good although we couldn’t tell which meat was what at just a glance. Their menu also doesn’t describe what meats they are providing (vague description: 2 parts of lamb and 2 parts of beef). I found the beef cubes in the platter quite enjoyable, although some cubes were almost 90% fat, the others remained soft and flavourful after being thrown into the hotpot for a few minutes.

Only the winter melon and lime juice drinks are refillable and go for $6.90. Water costs $0.80. Condiments (with complimentary desserts) cost $5 per pax, which we decided to skip this round.

I would probably not order the lamb shabu if I ever made a return trip. In addition, I would reconsider even making a return trip as it is pretty expensive. For the amount of meat we ordered, the bill might be slightly cheaper than HDL (~$58 per pax with service charge) but the service is also not as great as HDL as the staff aren’t attentive and don’t give personal service. I would probably be better off just buying the soup base from the supermarket and savouring my own hotpot at home without fear of being rushed to leave the table or facing unfriendly waitstaff.

Always biding my time to my next meal. Everything in between just serves to kill time.

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