When it comes to reunion dinners, the communal steamboat is the first thing that comes to mind. It was the favoured meal of the Chinese emperors and later adopted by their people as a warm treat for the rare family gatherings.
Over time, cooking over the hot pot hasn’t changed much, but it is now enjoyed on more casual occasions. It’s available any time of the year — even for late night supper — with both friends and family. More premium ingredients are also added into the mix: think kurobuta pork slices, cuts of well-marbled wagyu beef, and fresh seafood.
Even with the fine array of meat and vegetables to pick from, the broth is always the deal breaker. The rich stock, or a thin soup breathes live into ingredients and intensifies with flavour towards the end of your meal.
Yet, enjoying a good steamboat has become more than just a simple affair of broth and ingredients. It’s also about service and environment — anything to make for the usually messy and hot dining experience much more comfortable. These hot pot places here take the hot pot game to the next level.
Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant
The luxury steamboat restaurant re-opened in a bigger location at ION Orchard and unveils a modern and brighter space boasting six private rooms and al fresco dining areas. There are six different soups such as satay-flavoured stock and the Imperial Drunken Chicken soup, which is prepared with Shaoxing rice wine, ginseng and wolfberries. There’s fresh seafood (on display in tanks) and handmade noodles to look forward to here. Service is attentive, and diners can expect their steamboat pots refilled with fresh stock without asking.
Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant, ION Orchard, #04-12A, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6636 9339
Hua Ting Steamboat Restaurant
When it comes to good soup, you can trust Cantonese restaurants to do it right. There are seven different options of steamboat stock at Hua Ting, ranging from the spicy Sichuan-style broth to the impressive-looking fish soup that is served in a pot with whole winter melon. The a la carte menu sees items like pig offals, whole abalone and handmade scallop balls stuffed with goose liver pate. There’s plenty of space for everyone at Hua Ting, but there are two private rooms available too for a bit of peace and quiet.
Hua Ting Steamboat Restaurant, 442 Orchard Road Singapore, Claymore Connect, Mezzanine Level,#01-08, Singapore 238879, +65 6739 6628
View this post on Instagram
Contemporary teahouse Mister Wu is better known for its modern take on lamian among the lunchtime CBD crowd. Dinner time, it includes a more indulgent hot pot offering on the menu. Think truffle chicken or a spicy pork collagen concoction for the soup. The ala carte ingredients list is small but features premium items from Japan like Hokkaido wagyu, Kagoshima pork belly and loin, sashimi-grade jumbo scallops and oysters from Hiroshima. The restaurant’s list of Chinese teas and tea cocktails is a great accompaniment to the heavy meal.
Mister Wu, 3 Pickering Street, Nankin Row, #01-44/45, Singapore 048660, +65 6781 3833
Black Knight Hotpot
The Marina Bay Sands restaurant is the first Singapore outpost of the Taiwan-based brand. Instead of the usual metal pots with little chimneys, Black Knight serves their broth in colourful cloisonne pots. There are six types of soup, all prepared with traditional Chinese herbs and is filled with premium ingredients as well. Diners will find a good selection of meats to try here from Japan, Australia and the United States, all thinly sliced for a quick dip in piping hot broth — similar to eating Japanese shabu shabu. Cooked items are also available here to complement steamboat. Go for the braised platter with tripe, trotters and tendons.
Black Knight Hotpot, 2 Bayfront Avenue, #B1-01B The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 018972, +65 6688 7138
This restaurant is for those who prefer enjoying more than just two types of soup — especially when there are 13 kinds to pick from. Instead of just one pot, diners get a mini steamboat pot each with one choice of soup: from the traditional pork bone ones, the locally-inspired curry or satay bases to other international picks like kimchi broth. Diners can still order ingredients as a group though. While premium meats here are limited (you still get Kurobuta here), the fresh handmade meat and fish balls may satisfy. The traditional round-table setting gives way to plush banquette seatings here for big groups.
Paradise Hotpot, 1 Sengkang Square, #03-05 Compass One, Singapore 545078, +65 6386 4838
(Hero image: Orchard Hotel Singapore, Featured image: AP)