Nothing brings people together like a good meal of steamboat – and if you’ve wondering if there are other hotpot options apart from your usual Hai Di Lao and coffeeshop steamboat, here are five really outstanding ones you need to try if you haven’t – bring your whole family!
Text: Wong Ah Yoke / The Straits Times
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The steamboat here is the restaurant’s best-kept secret. Even though it’s not cheap – at $180 a person, for a minimum of four persons and up to six persons – take a look at the list of food items and you will find that it is not that bad after all.
There are live lobster, star garoupa, tiger prawn, crab claw, abalone, spiky sea cucumber, bird’s nest, USDA Prime ribeye and kurobuta pork, among others. Our favourites are the handmade balls – made with Angus beef, kurobuta pork and dace fish – as well as plump shrimp dumplings of a standard that only a top Cantonese restaurant like Man Fu Yuan can boast of.
The steamboat is not on the restaurant’s regular menus. But those in the know – that includes you now – call up three days in advance and turn up prepared for a feast. A server is assigned to do the cooking for you because, with such precious ingredients, you do not want to run the risk of overcooking anything.
The meal starts with an empty pot and the server prepares the broth with chicken infused with rice wine and aged hua diao. Then, one by one, the ingredients are cooked for you at the table. For the finale, rice is added to the remaining broth to make a delicious porridge. And you end up with an empty pot, which is how you start the meal. Go hungry, because there’s lots to eat!
Man Fu Yuan is at Level 2, InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, Tel: 6825 1008. Visit singapore.intercontinental.com/dine-drink/man-fu-yuan
The restaurant moved a few doors from its old location in Ion Orchard last December, but the menu stays pretty much the same. It has another outlet at Great World City.
What is impressive here are the Cantonese broths, which include Healthy Chicken Soup, Traditional Pork Bone Soup and Century Egg & Parsley Soup. But the Szechuan Spicy Soup is designed for chilli cowards and might be too mild for some.
You get good quality live seafood such as prawns, clams and garoupa, but these will bump up your bill considerably. But the housemade meatballs, fishballs and yong tau foo items are very good too and these are not expensive.
A good idea is to order a set menu, which ranges from $118 for two persons to $278 for four persons and includes a selection of seafood, meat and vegetables. If you can’t find your favourite ingredient in the list, just top it up with an extra a la carte order.
Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant is at #04-12A ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Tel: 6636 9339. Visit www.imperialtreasure.com/restaurants
This hotpot chain by the Paradise Group opened its biggest outlet in VivoCity last December, adding to its earlier two restaurants in Kinex and Centrepoint malls.
The chain recently took its best-selling original Beauty Collagen Broth off the menu because of inconsistent supplies of shark’s cartilage, a crucial ingredient in the recipe.
It has been replaced by a Beauty Collagen Broth brewed with dried scallops. It is delicious at the start, but the delicate seafood taste gets overpowered after you add other ingredients. The creaminess of the original broth is certainly nice, but the owners are already working on improving it.
Other than that, the hotpot here is great. Check out the handmade balls and pastes, which taste fresh. One of the must-have items is the fried beancurd skin. You dip the rolled-up, crispy beancurd into the broth for just three seconds. That way, it soaks up the flavour of the broth while still staying a little crisp.
You can eat here for less than $50 a person, but be prepared to pay more for live seafood or premium beef.
Beauty In The Pot is at three outlets, including #03-08A VivoCity, Tel: 6255 0758. Visit www.paradisegp.com/brand-beauty-in-the-pot/
This branch of a Taiwanese hotpot chain has stayed a bit under the radar since opening in mid-2017. That is a pity because the quality of its broths, meats and seafood is very good. The only setback is the price, as the bill can easily reach $100 a person.
But if you do not mind paying for good food, you will be happy. The Fish Maw Chicken Pot broth, for example, costs $48, but it comes packed with fish maw and kampung chicken, so you can have a meal with just the broth.
What is weak here are the balls, which do not appear freshly made. The fried beancurd roll is not the best either. If the restaurant get those right, this may be the hotpot restaurant to beat in Singapore.
Many Chinese around the world love hotpots, but few go as crazy about cooking in bubbling pots of broth as Singaporeans.
Black Knight Warrior is at #B1-01B Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Tel: 6688 7138. Visit www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/black-knight-warrior.html
Better known for its teddy bear that melts into a spicy broth and Barbie dolls draped in slices of raw wagyu beef, this hotpot restaurant from China also offers very decent ingredients.
The chain says it does not serve frozen meat or seafood and the quality certainly lives up to the claim. In fact, the tiger prawns look like they are freshly fished out of the tank. And the wagyu beef is delicious.
We love the Prime Minister’s Pork Balls, named for being a favourite of former British prime minister David Cameron – we can understand why he was so taken with them because the handmade balls taste fresh and flavourful. Some of the cooked dishes, such as the Deep Fried Pork Slices, are good too.
Expect to pay from $60 a person – but it will be worth it!
Spice World is at #01-06/07 Clarke Quay, Block B, 3 River Valley Road, Tel: 6265 9777. Visit www.facebook.com/SpiceWorldSingapore/