Newly opened The Drunken Pot, Tsim Sha Tsui - happening hotpot place

It’s hard to get a reservation at this restaurant, and it’s easy to see why: mixing Chinese and Japanese hot pot elements and with a mission to modernise the dish, it offers creative dishes and unusual ingredients, some more successful than others

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 February, 2016, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 February, 2016, 2:45pm

Hong Kong’s hotpot restaurants are doing a roaring trade amid this unusually cold winter, and the newest one, The Drunken Pot, is riding the wave.

READ MORE: Five of Hong Kong’s best hotpot restaurants

The restaurant on Observatory Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is worth a visit with a small group of friends – if you can get a reservation. It’s been going gangbusters since it opened, and it’s not hard to see why it’s popular.

The Drunken Pot aims to modernise hotpot dining with colourful cartoon murals, creative cocktails and a little bit of Chinese (hot pot, dumplings and medicinal herb soup) and Japanese (sashimi, sushi and sake).

Guests are seated either in the coveted booths that have induction units as well as built-in steamers, while guests at tables have the typical gas canister stoves. The colourful menu helps guide diners as to what to eat, though it would be helpful if the pictures were labelled with the dish names. Diners then tick off which dishes they want on two sheets of paper.

We settled into trying The Drunken Pot (HK$328), which features five different soup bases in one copper pot: a whole papaya with baby shrimps that is first heated with soup, before sake is added and flamed for a pyrotechnic touch, as well as regular seafood soup, squid ink seafood soup, the spicy and numbing Sichuan-style soup and Chiu Chow-style satay soup.

The soup bases already include some seafood such as a small crab, prawns, mushrooms and clams. We ordered a serving of Mongolian mutton (HK$68) that is on the chewy side and doesn’t have much flavour. The curious red sea cucumber intestine (HK$88) resembles small red balls with mini tentacles. They cook very quickly and have a crunchy texture.

Gelato tofu sounded interesting so we tried the taro flavoured one (HK$58). The rock-hard frozen taro is wrapped in tofu and shaped to resemble flowers, but it can’t be overcooked otherwise it falls apart.

The tribute vegetable (HK$32), sometimes called emperor vegetable, came in a giant bouquet and the two of us only managed to consume about half the serving. We liked the deep-fried bean curd and seaweed rolls (HK$58), although they only need a quick dip in the bubbling broth or else they lose the crisp texture.

Another effort to make hot pot more creative is the cuttlefish balls (HK$68), which come in an array of colours – yellow is pumpkin, red is tomato, crimson is beetroot, black is squid ink, although we couldn’t discern any added flavours.

The same goes for the steamed six-colour soup dumplings, also known as xiao long bao (HK$78): orange is crab, green is spinach, red is lobster and black is truffle.

Another cooked item was the deep-fried chicken wings (HK$48), but we couldn’t taste any of the listed fermented bean curd, which is usually very strong.

We had just enough room for dessert – a green tea fondant that was an interesting twist on the usual chocolate ones, though the accompanying vanilla ice cream was too creamy and sweet.

While we left full to the brim, we had to wonder why the restaurant didn’t have large dining napkins for guests, but rather thin tissues for a meal that will definitely be messy.

The Drunken Pot, Shop 1, 2/F, 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2321 9038.