As soon as the hot, humid summer weather eases, Hong-Kongers immediately crave hotpot. This cold weather dish is enjoyed by a table of friends who dip prepared ingredients in a bubbling pot of broth.
The Cantonese slang for hotpot literally translates to “sitting next to the pot” and it can also be used to describe a group of people smoking around a bin, the ashtray at the top resembling a steaming pot of broth.
All sorts of vegetables, mushrooms and meats are served sliced or chopped into even pieces, ready for the pot, and are flavoured by the soup as they cook, and then dipped in a mix of sauces and condiments for a varied and warming meal.
In the past, most hotpot restaurants in the city served traditional Cantonese-style hotpot, but more recently, a number of new hotpot joints have popped up, to cater for the increased demand. Below, we outline some of the main styles of hotpot that you can enjoy, and where to find them.
Original Canto-style hotpot boasts flavourful broths such as chicken and herb, thousand-year-old egg and coriander, fish and tomato, seafood, shacha sauce and a plethora of others. Staple ingredients include marbled beef, sliced thinly for quick cooking, green vegetables like lettuce, watercress and tong ho, and a selection of meatballs both fresh and precooked. Because the soup is milder, Cantonese hotpot also works beautifully with fresh seafood. Raw fish slices, geoduck, oysters, prawns and crab are all delicious additions.
Where to get it:
Tao Heung – various locations around Hong Kong
This chain offers all the basics at a great price. Beverages and desserts are served buffet-style, while everything else is ordered a la carte.
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Paradise of King Asia Seafood Hot Pot Restaurant – G/F, 31-35 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Open late in Causeway Bay, this spot is known for its superior geoduck, which is fresh enough to enjoy as sashimi or can be lightly cooked in the broth.
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Market Hotpot – 2/F, Dundas Square, 43H Dundas Street, Mong Kok
This is a wet market-themed hot pot restaurant well known for its whole-chicken fish maw soup pot.
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The Drunken Pot – 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
The premium hot pot ingredients at The Drunken Pot are all served a la carte. Signature items include hand-cut Angus beef and rainbow fish balls, and you can choose up to four types of soup bases at once to enjoy.
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Sichuan Mala Hot Pot
Hotpot is not only popular in Hong Kong but all over China, and Sichuan and Chongqing-style hotpot are the most prevalent on the mainland but more and more restaurants serving these flavourful pots prepared with chilli, spices and sometimes even Chinese medicine have crossed the border and started to set up shop in Hong Kong, offering even more broth-dipping options.
Where to get it:
二家姐火鍋 (Second Sister Hot Pot) – G/F, 16 Man Ying Street, Jordan
This award-winning Sichuan hot pot prides itself on its soup recipe made with traditional spices and fresh ingredients. Unique items like pork artery, crunchy fish stomach and goose intestine are also recommended for diners to try.
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Haidilao – 2/F & 3/F, Kowloon Building, 555 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei
Haidilao, with its hundreds of restaurants across the Mainland, caused a major buzz when it opened in Hong Kong. This legendary hotpot chain is lauded for the extreme lengths it goes to in the name of customer service. The wait for a table can be as long as two hours, but the team make up for it by offering complimentary massages and manicures while you wait in line. Gimmicks aside, Haidilao rates well in terms of food quality which is what keeps the guests coming back.
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San Xi Lou – 7/F, Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Mid-Levels
One of the more premium Sichuan restaurants in Hong Kong, San Xi Lou does a great hotpot spread with an authentic and fragrant spicy soup base.
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Chongqing Chicken Pot
Hong Kongers love a good spicy hotpot, and this hearty version is another favourite. The chongqing-style chicken pot starts with a heavily seasoned chicken stew, made with red onion, chilli, herbs and spices. Once the table has had their fill of the chicken, the remaining pieces and the flavoursome sauce gets turned into a broth for the subsequent hot pot. Steaming broth, vegetables and other hot pot ingredients are added and brought to the boil for a rich soup base, giving diners two hot pots in one.
Where to get it:
一品雞煲火鍋 (The Great Restaurant) – 1/F, City Mansion, 483-499 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay
This was the first chicken pot chain to bring this style to Hong Kong. Aptly named The Great Restaurant, this franchise offers different flavours of chicken stew as the base of the soup.
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雞煲 – Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, Smithfield Municipal Service Building, 12K Smithfield, Kennedy Town, Western District
The simply named, Chicken Pot, is a reasonably priced hotpot joint located in the Kennedy Town Cooked Food Centre and is best known for its flaming chicken pot.
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