Thursday, January 02, 2014

Hot Pot at Da Hong Pao

Pic from Da Hong Pao (sorry)
In its simplest form, all you need for hot pot (or steamboat, or Chinese fondue) is stock, or even water, and whatever ingredients you want to (and are able to) cook quickly in soup. It was always something I'd had at home - after all, you can spend less, and buy better ingredients. However, being in Hong Kong, where you can nary do a u-turn in your own apartment, having friends over for hotpot is quite a challenge, let alone having the space to prep everything and spread it all out.

That's a long explanation for why I like good hot pot places. Reaching hot pot nirvana is simple: good quality, fresh ingredients, interesting soup bases, and if I were really picky, a good range of ingredients that I can't easily buy myself and decent service.

Da Hong Pao ticks all these boxes. We started with sea urchin sashimi (yes, sashimi, so don't go throwing them into the pot, or I'll bite your hand off), and the rest was for the pot. We had a chicken-based soup - it seems to be a trend now to have pots that already have a load of edible ingredients, rather than just some soup - our chicken one had a pretty decent poached chicken in it, as well as turnips and mushrooms, all ready to eat. We ordered all sorts of things, but the Kurobuta pork stood out, as did their watercress. Sounds stupid, but it's really hard to find sweet, fleshy watercress these days that don't have that overpowering bitterness (a bitter edge is ok, an entire bitter canvas is not). The fried tofu bricks filled with shrimp paste were new to me, and pretty good too - the combination has always gone well together in non-hot-pot situations, so taste was never going to be much of an issue, but the test for hot pot was how well the two components would hold together - and in this case, there were no problems - we all had our packages, ahem, intact. I wasn't such a fan of their deep-fried tofu skin - the coils were too large and flimsy to be truly crunchy and brittle to withstand being dipped in hot soup.

I stupidly forgot to take any photos whatsoever, and having checked my dining companions' Instagram feeds, it appears that neither did they. Either the food was so good they forgot, or they wanted to keep it a secret - I think both mean the food was good!

Da Hong Pao 大紅袍 
Shop 6, Ming Yuen Centre, 6 Ming Yuen Western Street, plus another shopfront further up the street at 19-23.
North Point
Hong Kong
+852 2566 5586
6pm-3am daily. 2 sittings at dinnertime, 6pm or 8.30pm.

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