I’m officially sick. The cold weather has finally gotten the better of me. Well, I think I probably caught it off Yuye’s mum who was sick first but it really could have been from anywhere, even the hospital I’ve been visiting so regularly. On a better note, Yuye’s grandpa’s doing a bit better which is comforting for everyone.
Being sick means not being able to taste or smell very much which is hugely inconvenient for a foodie. But I do crave for hot, watery food and the perfect solution is hot pot! I went to a great hot pot restaurant during one of the early days of being in Beijing. It’s called Heng Da Shi Hot Pot Master (亨大师火锅达人 Heng Da Shi Huo Guo Da Ren) at a famous complex called “The Place” or 世贸天阶 (Shi Mao Tian Jie) where a HUGE TV screen is situated.
Saying it’s huge is an understatement. It literally wouldn’t fit on one photo. They showed the coolest animations and people can even SMS a number where the message would show up on the screen. Although I didn’t make it there myself but this place would have been squashed with people on Valentine’s night. I would post up a video I took of the screen but I can’t access Youtube here. 🙁 When I went, there was still Chinese New Year decorations up.
As the hot pot restaurant was located in a high class hotel, it was reasonably expensive and had a classy feel to it. The decor and ambiance also reflected this as a result. Not that it wasn’t nice. It was very clean and shiny and the service was good.
The hot pot restaurant is near many foreign embassies such as New Zealand, England and Russia so there were many foreigners in the district and of course, in the restaurant. I almost felt like I was back in Melbourne!
The best thing about this place is the large quantities of sauces to choose from, and they’re unlimited! You can pick from the usual ingredients like coriander, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and peanut butter, but also cooler ones like beef stew sauce, this Hokkaido meat sauce and many more.
I mixed a few but I got carried away and have no idea at what each one had. They all tasted fantastic anyway. 😛
Another selling point about this hot pot restaurant is the individual pots. So, each person gets to order a mini hot pot of their own with their own soup base. I ordered the pork ribs pot for 16RMB. It tasted meaty and delicious but I didn’t think it was the best value for money.
Yuye’s dad ordered the best value I thought – the healthy mushroom pot also for 16RMB but he had a lot of mushrooms that could be eaten.
Yuye and his mum both ordered the black silkie chicken pot, a breed of chicken that has fluffy white feathers and dark skin and bones. It’s apparently very good for one’s wellbeing. This pot sounded good but it really didn’t have much in it.
The dishes were presented beautifully on large white plates but were a bit expensive for what it was. We ordered fatty beef as per usual. It was very nice and tender but for 32RMB, it really didn’t come with very many pieces.
We also ordered 1 plate of fatty lamb for 28RMB and just like the beef, it also didn’t come with many pieces. It was beautiful meat though so I wouldn’t complain.
The mushroom plate cost 28RMB as well. I don’t really understand why mushrooms would cost the same as lamb but I guess mushrooms are expensive in China? We polished this plate off very quickly at no surprise as mushrooms shrink so much when they’re cooked.
The prawn and cuttlefish balls were delicious and fresh though. I could clearly tell the difference between these and store bought balls, even the ones back in Australia. These were firm, full of chopped up chunky seafood pieces that were chewy and tasty. I especially liked the prawn ones.
They came at a hefty 32RMB each for a measly 8 balls but hey, I guess its not much when converted to AUD. At an equivalent of $5, you can’t buy much with it back home. In fact, with that in mind, the meal itself wasn’t so expensive after all. I just have to stop thinking in terms of Yuan…
This dish is called oily fried gluten (油麵筋, you mian jin) which is a type of raw gluten that has been cup into small pieces and deep fried into round balls. They’re not my favourite as they’re a bit oily but they do soak up a lot of flavour when you leave them in the soup for a while.
We also ordered a deep fried tofu skin which was quite nice but it wasn’t very big…I would have liked a bit more of it. Compared to the gluten, tofu skin isn’t as oily but it also soaks up plenty of flavour.
Hot pot is not hot pot if there’s no veggies of some sort. I didn’t think this veggie platter we ordered was value worthy as it was 28RMB, the same as the lamb and it was just veggies! But I guess it was a big platter of veggies….
I think maybe it’s a Northern China thing (I’m from the east) but Yuye’s family always orders Shao Bing (烧饼), which is this baked dough cake. It doesn’t have any filling and is quite dry so it’s not my all time favourite thing to eat (I’m not a huge fan of dry doughy food because it dries out my mouth) but it does surprising go well with the hotpot. We also have this in the mornings for breakfast along with some pickles and congee.
Yuye’s dad ordered noodles to put in the hot pot in case we weren’t full by the end of the meal. We couldn’t eat any of it! We ended up taking it away which was quickly forgotten in Yuye’s mum’s bag. When we discovered it the next day, it was so dry we had to throw it out. Poor noodles…
All in all it was a great meal. How can hot pot not be great right? There are very good reasons for having your own pot. Besides being able to choose your own flavoured base, you also don’t have to worry about eating food that someone else has put in, or better, not having other people eat your precious food! 😀 And it’s great for people who don’t like to ‘share’ for various reasons (because you’re sick or just don’t like other people’s germs :P). It’s quite in fashion in China but there aren’t many (if any) such hot pot restaurants in Australia. If you know if any, do let me know. 🙂
If you find yourself in the district for some reason and feel like some hotpot, see if you can find this place.
Question time: Do you mind sharing food with others or are you one who likes to keep food to yourself?
Heng Da Shi Hot Pot Master (亨大师火锅达人 Heng Da Shi Huo Guo Da Ren)
Phone: 010-65871212 65871213
Location: Chao Yang Qu, Guang Hua Lu No.9, The Place (or Shi Mao Tian Jie) No.1 Building Shop L139 (朝阳区光华路9号世贸天阶1楼L139号)