From alcohol-based to durian and coconut: five obscure hotpots you may never have tried
- Winter is hotpot season, and instead of the usual chicken or bone broth, you may want to try something new
- From avocado hotpot to stinky tofu and blood, there’s something for every taste
Brace yourself, winter is here, and with it, some new, intriguing broths to spice up your hotpot.
Forget about chicken stock or bone broth, here are some soups (and ingredients) that you may have never even heard of.
Strokes HK – organic avocado-based hotpot
There is now another reason to visit Strokes on Kingston Street in Causeway Bay. The indoor mini golf club has recently revamped its menu, introducing an avocado based hotpot (HK$108). It comes loaded with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu, all soaked in a thick green liquid with melting cubes of avocado and a pinch of salt and pepper.
The rich soup coats everything – including the meat and seafood you can order at an extra charge – in a creamy sauce without (thankfully) affecting their flavour. But because of its texture, it can take a while to boil. If you prefer something sweet instead of savoury, go for the sweet basil and tomato hotpot (HK$108), instead.
G2-3, 1/F, 9 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay, tel: 2877 1800
The Drunken Pot – alcohol based hotpot
As its name implies, The Drunken Pot restaurant chain is known for alcoholic soup bases. The Vagabond Pot (HK$298), for example, comes in four flavours, each full of different ingredients: slices of fish in beer, chicken in Chinese wine, clams in sake, and oxtail in red wine.
If that is not enough alcohol to get you tipsy – most of the alcohol evaporates as it cooks – you can always take it up a notch by dropping in a sake bomb or a beer bomb (HK$25). Since this is a high-end hotpot restaurant, it is more expensive than other places: the bill averages out to HK$400 per person. However, the creative presentations – cuttlefish paste shaped like snowmen (HK$88 for three pieces) and drinks served in light bulbs – make for some great Instagram pictures.
27/F V Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2321 9038
Shop 1, 2/F 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2321 9038
8Pots HK – stinky pots
It may be hard to believe, but 8Pots HK’s latest launch – curry milk cream soup – is so popular it was sold out on the night of our visit. But we were able to try their signature house special hot soup (HK$112 with rice or vermicelli).
It is called “stinky pot” in Chinese and for a very good reason. The odour hits you before the dish even arrives and it tastes even stronger than it smells, thanks to a mix of Taiwanese street food specialities including the notorious stinky tofu (fermented tofu), pig’s blood cake and pig blood curd (the former is made with sticky rice, pig’s blood and soy broth, while the latter is coagulated blood, also called blood pudding). The funkiest of them all is pork intestine.
77 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2885 7867
Lockhart House, 440 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2970 2088
Xiao Yu Hotpot Restaurant – entrails
Unlike Cantonese hotpots, which focus primarily on thinly sliced meats and seafood, hotpots in Chongqing are all about entrails and Xiao Yu Hotpot Restaurant brings the best of them to Hong Kong.
You name it, they have it. There are fish bladders, goose intestines, fresh ox liver, boneless (yay!) duck feet and omasum beef tripe, which unlike the usual beef tripe you find in Hong Kong street food, comes from the third chamber of a cow’s stomach.
Then there are all the different parts of a pig: uterus, brain, blood, throat, upper jaw, pulmonary artery, intestine and belly slices. The menu includes helpful tips on how long to cook each part, ranging from 15 seconds to 10 minutes.
There is no need to worry about the odd smell that is usually found with cooked innards, these are all scrupulously cleaned and soak up the flavour of the spicy, numbing mala soup. Tough, crunchy, leathery and chewy, they all have interesting textures and call for strong jaw muscles.
50 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay, tel: 3703 9318
19/F Prince Tower, 12A Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3621 0893
Spice World – durian and coconut milk
We had to include this one, even though it’s not in Hong Kong, just because of the sheer weirdness factor – who thought this was a good idea? We are not talking about just the flesh of the pungent fruit, but half of an entire durian, including its prickly rind, all soaked in coconut milk. We love both, but not when they are mixed and boiled together, not to mention used for dipping ingredients into.
Other peculiar – and appalling – concoctions at Spice World in Shanghai include green tea, taro, meat floss and salted egg yolk in milk. If you think matcha pot sounds gross, wait till you see the resulting mixture. All the ingredients – tapioca, Oreos (?!), nata de coco, salted egg yolk and meat – turn into unrecognisable dirty green blobs and the mixture looks like something straight out of a witch’s cauldron. Also, the longer it cooks, the more bitter it becomes.
The gimmicky mash-ups have attracted flocks of diners in China, but we doubt any of them will be back for seconds.
Various locations in Shanghai.