With that slight chill in the air, it’s finally prime hotpot season in Hong Kong. Mix up tradition by going to one of these quirky hotpot joints in town, which all offer something out of the ordinary, whether it’s décor, inventive and delicious ingredients, or creative new broths to dip your meal into. Pick a few of your favourites, or make it a point to cycle through all of them this winter — we definitely encourage it.
With Hotpot Land’s second branch opening earlier this year on Wyndham Street, Centralites finally have a place nearby to satiate the post-drinking munchies. Some may find the name a bit disconcerting, after all the character for ‘land’ is pronounced like a certain curse word in Cantonese. But the phrase actual means a fervant fan of hotpot. At Hotpot Land, you’ll be tasting Taiwanese-style hotpot, taking after arguably the best hotpot joint in Taipei, Wulaoguo (‘Elixir Health Pot,’ or literally ‘never-aging pot’). Here, the ambience, service and quality of ingredients — down to the spicy mala (HK$118) or milky-white nourishing broths (HK$128) which are prepared with dozens of ingredients — are all held to exceptional standards. Star hotpot ingredients include beef balls filled with lobster bisque (HK$88) and salted egg yolk-filled pork balls (HK$66). Be sure to wash it all down with seasonal Taiwanese craft beer.
The Drunken Pot
Booze is often a welcome accompaniment with hotpot, and at The Drunken Pot, it is clearly the name of the game. Reinventing the local hotpot scene since it opened two years ago, TDP is a firm mainstay for an out-of-the-box hotpot experience, with its fresh takes on hotpot bases, edgy presentations, jet-fresh sashimi and premium seafood, and its signature ‘sake bombs’ and ‘spicy bombs’ that enhance your broths with extra flavour. New this winter season is the Jumbo Coriander Hot Pot (HK$288) — featuring four different broths covered with a heaping mound of aromatic herbs. For those looking for the ultimate boozy treat, try the new Vagabond Pot (HK$298), where you get a combo of four new soup bases featuring beer, chinese wine, sake, and red wine complementing fish, chicken, clams and oxtail.
The Drunken Pot, two locations: 27/F, V Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2323 7098; 2/F, 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2321 9038
Megan’s Kitchen has long-held the throne for creative hotpot, and has also been a Michelin-recommended restaurant for six years in a row. The restaurant serves up hotpot with a gourmet flair, beloved for the signature soup bases including Tomato & Crab Soup with Soufflé Finish and Tom Yum Koong Cappuccino. This season, you can warm up to a hearty double boiled chicken broth (HK$298) — cooked for 9 hours — featuring a French spring chicken stuffed with porcini mushrooms and quinoa.
As for hotpot ingredients, Megan’s Kitchen puts a twist on the usual suspects: try the new pork meatballs stuffed with chestnut (HK$98), cuttlefish balls stuffed with escargot (HK$108), or decadent dumplings (HK$128) made with either crab meat and roe, or duck and foie gras. As for the carnivores, you’ll want to dig into the likes of Aussie grass-fed rib-eye (HK$298), New Zealand venison shoulder (HK$288) and ostrich fillet (HK$128).
Megan’s Kitchen, 5/F, Lucky Centre, 165-171 Wan Chai Road, Hong Kong, +852 2866 8305
Crouching Dragon Authentic Chengdu Mala Hotpot (卧龍正宗成都麻辣火鍋)
This Chengdu-style hotpot joint has no official English name, so our translation of ‘Crouching Dragon’ will have to do. Proud Chengdu natives will consider their city as the mecca of Sichuan mala hotpot, with a greater focus on balancing spice and aroma in the soup base — rather than the fiery and rambunctious affair that is normally considered as Chongqing-style. With all of the spices and broth ingredients hailing from Chengdu (as well as one of the owners), Crouching Dragon tops the list if you’re seeking out authenticity. The broth starts off with an intriguing set of ‘mahjong’ tiles, which are actually cubes of spice and butter that melt and form the soup base for you to dip your chosen ingredients, from assorted balls to seafood to premium hand-sliced beef. The restaurant decor deserves special mention, too, lavishly decorated in the style of a grand imperial palace.
Crouching Dragon, 11/F, Kyoto Plaza, 491-499 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2808 0830
If hotpot is all about the communal, family atmosphere, Suppa nails it, harking back to the joy of family reuniting over a steaming hotpot meal. It’s bringing on the nostalgia factor hard with its retro décor and furnishings, but the spacious restaurant — with plenty of space between tables — is not all looks, either, offering beautifully wholesome and nourishing soups as bases. The downside here is that the menu is only printed in Chinese, but the fish maw and chicken, and the lobster and seafood broths prove to be popular choices. Devour the chicken, or the whole lobster and assorted fresh market seafood first before getting to your desired toppings. Order the specialty house-made assorted meatballs (HK$96), a large plate of thick-sliced local beef (HK$238), the popular fishballs with dried fruit peel (HK$36), and dumplings packed with crabmeat (HK$82) — and get feasting.
Suppa, 2/F, Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 3520 4111
JKJ POT (尚上下夏)
If you want to take a trip down nostalgia lane, head to the whimsical world of JKJ Pot (the Chinese name is a pun on ‘up up, down down’ — and clearly nothing to do with the English). This down-to-earth hotpot joint is popular with Hongkongers for its retro dai pai dong charm. If you’re not keen on dining on plastic stools and foldable tables like they used to do (and still do out in the open), you might want to skip this one.
For those who are ready to soak in the atmosphere, JKJ Pot specialises in both classic hotpot ingredients as well as inventive and unusual toppings — think fried you za gwai doughsticks with cuttlefish paste (HK$58), frozen taro (HK$42) and — if you’re feeling adventurous — cuttlefish balls with banana filling (HK$98). The specialty here is spicy chicken pot (a whole chicken, eaten before the broth is added to make your hotpot) where you can choose the exact cuts of poultry you want. No more dry white meat!
JKJ Pot, G/F, 23 Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2470 2668
Hai Di Lao
The popular mainland Chinese hotpot chain Hai Di Lao has finally arrived in Hong Kong, and business is bustling as expected, with hours-long queues since the day it opened (typical of its other 150-plus outlets in China). That being said, you can enjoy free perks such as manicures (yes, even gel nails), shoe shines and prize raffles as you wait in line. And the wait is well worth it: Hai Di Lao serves up a sumptuous hot pot experience, where you can dip your choice of fresh meat, seafood and veggies in a wide range of broths including tomato, mala Sichuan, and the ever-popular coconut chicken broth. Hotpot addicts take note: Hai Di Lao is open 24 hours a day.
Hai Di Lao, 555 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 3996 7799
Across its two branches in Causeway Bay and Jordan, Seansin Hotpot is known to those who prefer a more refined touch to their hotpot, boasting a ‘healthier’ approach to what is commonly considered a ‘heaty’ meal. With its advanced ventilation system, a dining experience at Seansin is hotpot without the smoke and steam. Its broth bases are also made from nourishing double boiled soups, and you’re encouraged to drink it and eat the ingredients within before cooking your own hotpot.
Popular soups include the fish maw, chicken and cordyceps broth, and the bestselling seasonal favourite of goji, mountain yam and abalone chicken soup. The seafood here is exceptionally fresh, with house-made cuttlefish balls particularly toothsome. A surprising hit at a recent meal at Seansin was a cheese-filled chikuwa, the hollow, long Japanese fish cake, cooked to a satisfyingly tender bite with molten cheese inside.
Two locations: Seansin Causeway Bay, 8/F, Bartlock Centre, 3 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2167 7188; Seansin Jordan, 1/F, Gofuku Tower, 62-64 Woosung Street, Jordan, Hong Kong, +852 2677 6488
Fo Shui Lo (火水爐)
Ever find yourself in Mong Kok wondering where to grab a bite? Opened just this September, Fo Shui Lo is a quirky Hong Kong-style bing sutt (or old school cha chaan teng) by day, and hot pot joint by night, served only after 6pm. The surroundings also take after the trendy retro style reminiscent of a 60s Hong Kong cinema house. The satay beef broth is particularly popular (and as we hear, so are the satay beef noodles during the day). At the moment, only sets are offered; priced at HK$308 each, they come with a chicken pot to start, hand-sliced local beef and Iberico pork, assorted seafood, meat- and fish-balls, and a traditional dessert for a sweet ending. A new addition to the menu is goji berry noodles, great for those looking for a healthy way to round out the meal.
Fo Shui Lo, 1/F, Legend Court, 33 Yin Chong Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 2663 1087
…And if you’re really looking to throw your hotpot compatriots for a loop, why not try Italian hotpot? No longer does the western counterpart to hotpot have to be cheese fondue. Beloved for their fresh pastas and pizzas, Linguini Fini takes fusion food to the next level by serving a hotpot set complete with its famed meatballs, fresh meats and organic veggies, noodles, and seafood. The creative hotpot is available in three types of broth: a tomato ‘gravy’ (created from chef Vinny Lauria’s mother’s red sauce recipe); a spicy clam broth, and an Italian wedding soup.
Linguini Fini, 49 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2387 6338