Claypot Hotpot: Difference In The Broth, Free Range Chicken and Meat Balls

Sorry, I went offline the past few days. I had been spending the last few days revamping the home computer setups after one of the off-line hard disks crashed on Christmas Day. Hehehe … it was perfect timing because it gave me an excuse to finally do the right thing — create a NAS (Network-attached Storage). With four computers at home, the NAS will simplify a lot of the stuff we do on the computer. So we went to line up on Boxing Day at Memory Express and got myself 6TB RAID-5 unit. This is awesome because RAID-5 is “supposed” to be redundant … it can continue to work even if one hard disk crashed.

So yeah, I had been fiddling around the re-organizing everything and it’s almost done. That had been what I had largely been up to … and also eating out! Like in this restaurant …

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I heard about it from Raymond on Facebook. He is one of my resources for finding new places because he sure knows his food. So when I saw the update from him about the new hot pot place and when I later learn that it was on Richmond’s glutton street (Alexandra Road), I already knew where he was talking about.

The Claypot Hot Pot Restaurant had been in this location for many years but for the past year or so it closed. They have now reopened. It is under a new management and backed by a strong name in the Chinese food industry. The new management had chosen to retain the English name (Claypot Hot Pot) but the Chinese name is new.

In addition they tagged on “And BBQ” to the name too if you noticed. Unfortunately they do not offer BBQ at this time. The manager told us that they wanted to focus on hot pot for now and will offer BBQ later on. Anyway, we were there just days after they had re-opened.

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I like what they had done to this place. It is modern and shiny. It is certainly one of the more upscale looking hot pot restaurants around.

The dining hall is large. It even has a two table glass-walled party room at the end of the dining hall.

We were there early at 5PM, just as they had opened for dinner. The restaurant was empty at that time and we were surprised when the manager, who introduced himself as the owner, asked us if we had reservation. I think he was in auto-mode and simply blurted out the question. He later said that a reservation is not necessary as it is early and he expects us to be out by 7PM. That is not a problem for us. To us, two hours is more than enough time for hot pot.

The crowd trickled in at 6PM and by the time we were about to leave at 7PM, the entire restaurant was packed. I was thinking that this restaurant will do well considering that they had just re-opened for a few days and yet word is out so fast.

Service is very good. It was attentive and they come to clear the empty dishes very fast (I hate cluttered tables). They also come by very fast to refill the soup and drinks too, without us asking for them.

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I like the manager. He is friendly and goes around the whole evening socializing with the customers. He connects with people well.

He told me that he had taken over this place to try to see if he can make a difference. Their specialty is the free range chicken and meatballs (click on image above if you can’t read it clearly). Now, chicken is not something that is common in hot pots but this restaurant is backed by a big supplier of premium free range chicken which is famous in Vancouver (Wingtat).

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Likewise, click on the two menu pages above to show in larger size.

The AYCE hot pot is $19 per adult. In the future, they will offer BBQ in addition to the hot pot for $4 more.

I like the menu in many respect. For one, they do not ding you for the extras as much as some places where the condiments, sauces and drinks does drive up the cost of the meal.

I also like the variety of soup bases they have. They are $10 or $7 per pot. If you see the left page of the menu above, the first three soup bases are single soup while item #4 is the two-soup combo where you can only choose items #5 and below. Too bad. I so wanted to have a combo with one of their specialty soups.

There are a lot of varieties in the soup bases, some of which we had not seen before in other places.

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Be careful about the quantity you order here. A “one” order is what you see above. So, don’t go about penciling one for each person or else you will end up with way too much of the same type.

So, if you scan just the section on meat alone (which has 11 items), you can imagine how much food that it is if you just pencil “1” on each of the item. So think about it, they also have:

  • 8 items under seafood
  • 12 items under meatballs
  • 14 items under side dishes
  • 12 items under vegetable
  • 8 items under inards
  • 6 items under dumplings and wonton
  • 7 items under cooked food and dessert

So, there is no way that … (more…)

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Boiling Point on No 3 Road Between Alexandra and Leslie Road, Richmond

Stinky-stinky Tofu. Not just any stinky tofu but stinky-stinky tofu.

That was what JS described it when she wrote to a few of our foodie group alerting us of this ad she saw in the Chinese papers. It is about a new hot pot restaurant in Richmond who billed themselves as Taiwanese Stinky Stinky Tofu.

We were not ones to balk on trying such things. As a matter of fact, we relish on trying such stuff. I had stinky tofu before … many many years ago in Taiwan. It was OK then and so this should be easy.

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So, JS, TS, Grayelf and us met up for dinner in Boiling Point.

This restaurant is located on the strip mall on No 3 Road where Celcius is, you know, just across the street from Memory Express?

Boiling Point took over the spot vacated by the Kelong Malaysian restaurant. We were quite surprised to learn that Kelong had finally called it a day. While the food in Kelong had never been known to be good, they had hung on for so long that one would think they will be there forever. As a matter of fact, Suanne just wrote about Kelong about three months ago. BTW, you know what is a Kelong? It is a fishing floating platform which used to be common in Malaysia. See pictures here if you are curious.

Anyhow … The Boiling Point restaurant has outlets on California and Washington state. This is their fifth outlet and the first in Canada.

First thing I did when I got there was stand outside the restaurant and took a deep breathe. It was cold and the air crisp that night. I thought surely if it is indeed stinky I could smell it from the outside.

No, nothing. Nada. Nyet. Nary a smell. On one hand it is a good thing. On the other, I was disappointed.

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When I pushed opened the door, that smell hit home. OMG, that smells awful. To some it will smell awfully nice. To me, it just smells awful. It is like they were cooking rotten meat in sewage water in the toilet. Something like that.

But you know what, the smell gets better as time goes by. After a while, we did not even notice the smell. The first smell is awful. Yeah, I was telling myself the same thing the whole day long. Just to psyche myself up for this adventure. I know that like blue cheese and natto, the first bite is the hardest and the more you eat the better it gets.

The decor inside looks spartan. The ugly unfinished concrete floor just jumps out at me as sloppy decor but then it later dawned on me that perhaps they did this for practical reasons. I mean, if this is carpeted, the smell would collect! Then too I noticed that the chairs are plastics too.

BTW, do you know what is the origin of Stinky Tofu? Stinky Tofu is popular in Taiwan but it is also available in southern part of China including Hong Kong. I googled and found the following article from … (more…)

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Mongolian Hot Pot in Lansdowne Mall, Richmond

The coldest day of the past week or two was that day when the thermometer dropped to minus 10C. It is darn cold but after it dropped below freezing, minus 10 or minus 5, it all feels the same.

So it was time for a hot pot right in the middle of the day. Many hot pot restaurants are opened only for dinner but this is one of those which is open at day time. I think this is because hot pot meals are time consuming and so not suited for lunch for many people who does not have the time for it.

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The Mongolian Hot Pot is located in the Lansdowne Mall. It is at the eastern side of this massive mall in Richmond. So you want to make sure you park at the correct side of the mall or else it is a long walk through the mall.

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This restaurant is called the Mongolian Hot Pot in English. However in Chinese, the name is translated to “Little Sheep”.

According to their website, it seems like they are one of the largest hot pot restaurant chain with over 350 outlets, mostly in Asia. The amazing thing is that their first restaurant is established in Canada, specifically Ontario, not in Asia.

What I can’t understand is why is this restaurant in Richmond called Mongolian Hot Pot when the “Little Sheep” name is much more well known to the Chinese community.

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The irony is that that they claim that  Hot Pot is the invention of Genghiz Khan. As far as I know hot pot had never been part of the Mongolian cuisine, let alone having invented it. There were stories that the Mongolians started having hot pots in the cold Mongolian steppes by boiling their food with their helmets.

I don’t think Genghiz Khan invented the hot pot. I think … (more…)

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Spicy Legend on Kingsway and Joyce, Vancouver

Updated: 22nd Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

It was another cold rainy day last week and that means only one thing to us when it comes to deciding what to eat for dinner.

I have a feeling that we are going to do a number of hot pot posts this next few months. With the snow already on the North Shore Mountains it constantly reminded me that this is going to be a long cold winter. Long term forecasts shows that there will be wet snow next week.

I am just bracing myself.

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Suanne and I had been meaning to visit the Spicy Legend for sometime already. So when the weather presented the opportunity, we drove to Kingsway and Joyce where the restaurant is.

Spicy Legend is a Sichuan Hot Pot restaurant. It is all you can eat at $19 per person. Soups and others extra of course, like the other places. All AYCE place will easily set you back $25 to $30 after accounting for everything. They are almost all the same price-wise. So don’t be taken in by the $18 or $19 per person signs outside the restaurant.

The only way you will only pay $18/$19 is if love raw meat and you dunk the meat into lukewarm glass of water. I think they will provide you a glass of hot water if you ask nicely.

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I had always wanted to go to Spicy Legend when they were a Mickey Mouse restaurant a few doors away (see above). I first found out about this place when the 8GTCC gang went looking for dinner. This old place was really small. I think it will sit about 12 people max with four tables only.

I had never seen any hot pot restaurants so small before but it sure was very busy then. You have to have a reservation back then.

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So they moved a few doors away. It is now a much much bigger place. Now, they can fit 50 – 70 people at least.

They open at 5:30 PM. So Suanne and I decided to go at 6:00 PM thinking that it would be just OK since the restaurant is much bigger.

Guess what.

The first thing we came through the door was the question “Do you have a reservation?”.

Their first sitting was already full! They explain that normally they can fit in walk-in customers but that day being a public holiday and the start to a long weekend, they are fully booked for the 1st sitting. She said that if we want she have a few tables left for the 8PM slot.

Not wanting to go elsewhere and quite determined to have hot pot that day, we decided to take that slot and went to do something else around Metrotown.

We came back at 15 mins before 8:00 PM and the place was packed. Despite us having that 8:00 PM reservation, we had to wait till 8:30 PM before we were finally given a table!!

It was a true test of our patience. LOL!

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You may click on the images above to enlarge it.

It is $19 per person. Soup base, sauces and condiments are extra. There is a 2 hour time limit which is more than enough time for us.

The soup base choices is complex. It comes in three sizes depending on the number of people you have. Then there is the spicy or non-spicy or a combination of both. They also have two fancier ones called Tea Plant Mushroom Soup Base and Black-bone Chicken Soup Base. In a place like this, you want the SPICY one.

Unlike other places, they ask you to specify how you want the spicy soup base. Listen to this … you have to specify the combination of SPICINESS and NUMBNESS on the scale of “big, medium or small”. Suanne and I debated on this for sometime. I wanted “big” on both spiciness and numbness but sanity prevailed. We went with “medium” on both spiciness and numbness.

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The burner they use is a built in electronic table burner. There are no naked flames and so we did not see one of those special purpose sprinkler pipes hanging from the ceiling here.

The burners are not very effective. It takes 2-3 minutes to bring the pot to boil unlike other places where it is powerful enough to boil the soup instantly.

Their tables are mobile which is something we had not seen before. They can fit a few tables together for bigger parties.

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As in most (not all) hot pot restaurants, the sauces and condiments are extra.

We wanted to order garlic ($1), cilantro (50 cents) and sesame paste ($1.50) but because of the way the order form were arranged, we got the fresh chili ($1) instead of the garlic. We decided to keep it.

It was a generous portion that they gave us. Other places were barely half of this. So we were pretty glad about it.

Suanne got the sesame paste (brownish sauce in picture above) because she learned from iSpicy that it is the best sauce with non-spicy soup base. For your info, the sesame oil is best with spicy soup base.

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We also ordered a jug of soy milk which is $5 and good for 3-4 glasses.

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The food came served on a side tray. I like that because I hate cluttered tables.

Yeah, our goal is have lots of beef and lamb and so we asked for extra servings. They gave us lots. Made us happy. 🙂

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We got mixed soup, spicy and non-spicy. The spicy soup does not … (more…)

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iSpicy Sichuan Hot Pot on Kingsway, Vancouver

Updated 23rd Oct 2014: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

It was cold. It was damp.

And we were hungry as we drove along Kingsway looking for a place to eat. It was past 2PM already and we only had a cup of coffee and shared a bagel between us since morning. We were telling ourselves that half of the restaurants would probably be closed for the mid day.

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I caught a glimpse of the “All You Can Eat  $17.95” sign outside the restaurant and said Suanne maybe we should just try this place. It’s not in our list of restaurants to-try but I fancy hot pot. It was after all a cold day. Nothing but a Sichuan Hot Pot to spice things up.

iSpicy is an odd name. It sounded more like an internet cafe than a traditional hot pot restaurant. We went in and we were warmly welcomed. The owner and his wife barely speaks English. We are OK because we don’t need to know a lot of Chinese when it comes to AYCE and hot pot.

But as it turned out, we had a very interesting time there. We had a glimpse of what it is like in the struggles of a restaurant owner. We saw a human side of a smallish restaurant trying their very best to remain relevant in a very competitive sector of the economy. More about that later.

iSpicy is a really small restaurant. They have seats for about 20-25 people. Not big for an AYCE hot pot.

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It is only natural, I guess, to expect a smaller hot pot restaurant to charge cheaper. iSpicy’s hot pot is on par with other AYCE hot pot restarants in town. It is $18 for adult.

The choices on the menu is smaller too. We know that for places with larger menu, most of the menu items are fluff. To us the most important thing is the quality of the meat, the beef in particular.

I was a bit confused about the hotpot base. They have a few sizes — small, large and extra large. They crossed out the extra large because it really doesn’t make sense. In most places they charge by the pot and not the size of the pot. The hotpot base does not have the fancy flavours that some places has. It is the spicy soup base that is their primary offering.

As usual we opted for the half-half and said that for the spicy side, it has to be “da-la” (big spicy). The owner told me that I should just go with the middle spicy owe as his da-la might be too much for me. Good thing I did not stick to my original choice!

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The mixed soup base is $8.50 extra. The non-spicy side is made of pork bone. We were asked to taste the soup and he pointed out that the broth is not salted.

We also tasted the Sichuan soup base. It was really spicy. It had big dried red pepper pieces swimming in a very visible layer of red colored oil.

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We later learned that the chef made the sichuan soup base himself from scratch. He told us that it takes … (more…)

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So Hot So Pot (a.k.a. Sohot Sopot) on Alexandra and Garden City, Richmond

Updated 30th Oct 2014: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Update 25-Sep-2010: This restaurant had renamed themselves as Sohot Sopot recently.

So-Hot-So-Pot. What a name!

I got two hot pot restaurants that is on our to-try list but when we came across this new place with this unique name, I thought we better go try even though it is summer now. Hot Pot are great as a winter food. Not so great for summer. We went anyway.

Just because of the name.

So-Hot-So-Pot. LOL!

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That big $18.95 All You Can Eat sign caught our attention. It can’t be that cheap. It’s always that they charge a lot for the soup and make their money from extras. That is their business model.

If you see $18.95, count on spending at least $25 … or more likely $30, once you get the bill.

As usual we get there early. It was about 6 PM. There was only one table taken and yet they ask us “Do you have a reservation?”.

Puzzled, I said “No”.

“Oh, I am sorry we are full today”, the lady who looked like the owner said.

I was quite stunned and as we were about to turn around, she said “Hmmm … let me see if I can squeeze you in” … thinking hard, looking at the reservation page which has four lines on it and tapping the pen on the counter.

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“Tell you what. You have to leave by 7:30PM … are you OK with that?” she said.

Hah! I heard of that before. These AYCE places make money not only by turning the tables but pressure you to eat fast, order the wrong stuff and such.

“Oh yeah, sure”, I said cheerfully. Let me tell you, ignore the time limit they tell you. Don’t get annoyed, just agree and then deal with it later. They will find it hard to eject you come the time. LOL!

The restaurant is modern and quite big. I like it. It is one of the better looking, if not the best looking, hot pot restaurants around. It is very clean too.

Of course it is clean. Apparently they had been opened just nine days.

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Service was good, I must say. They have lots of staff. The weird thing is the staff is always walking round and round the restaurant even though there are only two tables. I am not sure if they are bored and just walk round and round the same route or their boss made them do that. Weird!

So we get our plates cleared out very fast. The soup was topped all the time.

The table setting is very nice too. They are brand new and shiny and all.

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OK, it is kind of hard to read the above. Click on it to get a larger image.

That was out first order. We are not yet experts in hot pot but we are getting there.

This time we stayed our course … we are going for the high price items … meat, meatballs and seafood. Ignore the vegetable. Ignore the noodles.

The soup base is from $7 to to as high as $15. That is charged per pot, not per person. So, the more people sharing the pot, the cheaper it is. You know that already, right?

What I did not like is that they charge extra for sauces. Not cheap too … 50 cents for ginger, 50 cents for green onions … cut throat prices. These stuff is very important to me and we had to plonk down another $2.50 for it.

You know what is missing from the menu? Suanne said they should have desserts. Come to think of it, it is a pretty good idea.

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The drinks are $1.50. I ordered a Wong Lo Kat which is a popular Cantonese herbal first invented by Wong Lo Kat (who else?) almost 200 years ago.

I thought they would brew this in house like the other hot pot restaurants. But it is in a can. Suanne had the coconut juice.

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Here is the combo which we had to pay extra $2.50. Such a small bowl and has five items in it … ginger, green onions, parsley, garlic and sweet pepper sauce.

If I recall correctly, Garden City Hot Pot provides this free of charge.

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Don’t go yet. I got lots more to tell. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you about the items we love the best here.

The beef items is what you should order … a lot. Stuff yourself full first with this. The beef (and pork and lamb) slices above looked all the same and we could not tell the difference really.

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If you had followed our hot pot posts, you will know that I love to individually cook my beef. They get cooked very fast and so don’t throw it all in and let it boil too long in the soup.

I just put a slice or two on the scoop and let it boil for a few seconds until the pinkness just goes away.

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This is the best way to eat it. 🙂

Look at the marbling on the beef slices. Aren’t they a beaut? It is so good you don’t need dipping sauce with this.

That is why you should just order the beef … like … (more…)

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[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Congee Hotpot with Yu Fu (Fish Tofu) 過橋粥底火鍋灼魚腐 from Landmark Hotpot House

It is a good thing we called ahead and check first.

Tell me … when would you normally have congee? Breakfast, right?

We had earlier planned to go at noon to try the Congee Hotpot with Fish Tofu. We were surprised to learn from the restaurant that they only serve the award winning dish with their late night menu. So if you want to try this, it is only available from 9:30 PM.

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Being early sleepers, Suanne and I rarely go out for late night suppers. It was good to go out for a change that late.

The Landmark Hot Pot House is located on Cambie near the intersection with King Edward. It is actually just a short walk from the King Edward Skytrain station.

I remember reading somewhere that Landmark is the first hot pot restaurant in Vancouver. If so, it must have been quite a while ago because today you see a lot hot pot restaurants everywhere.

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We had never been there before and so when we walked in, we were quite surprised with what we saw.  The restaurant is clean and bright. The dining hall is also very large. It had the air of upscale-ness to it. Most of the customers does seem like the well-heeled types.

It is also a very Cantonese restaurant from the way the wait staff speaks. The captains wear suit and definitely very experienced types. I did sense a bit of snobbery on the part of captains and wait staff. I guess that is how it is with upscale Cantonese restaurants. We did not have any issue with that at all but thought that they seems like the type of restaurant that “tai yan” and will be extra pleased if you order expensive dishes … if you know what I mean. Despite that, service was prompt and fast.

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Gas ranges are built-in on the table. I prefer this over the portable ones which raises the pot a bit too high.

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The menu is mostly in Chinese. It has a big selection spread over several different menus.

One look at it, it is quite pricey. They are not like most of the hot pot restaurants around Metro Vancouver. They are not AYCEs (all you can eat). Instead you order individual dishes.

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Chinese Restaurant Award 2009 ♦ GOLD in the HOT POT Category ♦ Congee Hotpot with Yu Fu (Fish Tofu) 過橋粥底火鍋灼魚腐

Here it is, the GOLD award dish. It is a simple congee hotpot. What makes it special is … (more…)

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Dim Sum at HKYK Seafood Hotpot Restaurant in Richmond

Updated: 6th Feb 2012; This restaurant had closed.

The Richmond Community Kitchen gathered for a Chinese New Year celebration at HKYK Seafood Hotpot Restaurant which serves dim sum in the morning.
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One of the reason we picked HKYK is it’s wheel chair. There is a parking lot adjacent to this building and there are lots allocated for HKYK but you must register your license plate number in a register book at the reception.

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There were fourteen members (old and new) from various kitchens who attended this event.

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Another reason we picked HKYK is their prices are really cheap; $1.99 for most of the regular dim sum items. Click on the order sheets above for the enlarge view. HKYK uses a computerized order sheet where you shade the required quantity. It reminds of the multiple choices test in schools.

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HKYK has been in Richmond for a long time. I remembered we had dim sum here way back in 2002. It is a big restaurant with many seating. I’ve seen reviews that service is not that good here but for the price that you pay, you cant expect much. We are quite ok with the slow service as that gives us more time to chit chat and catch up with one another.

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We ordered a total of 21 different items to try. The Steamed Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf was the only Special item we ordered. This huge dumpling costs $5.50. It came with sugar and soy sauce for dipping.

Other than the above special, we ordered pretty regular dim sum items for those who are not familiar with this Cantonese cuisine to be on the safe side. Moreover, we do have one member who is gluten intolerant.

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Pork Dumplings, Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Dumpling Chiu Chou Style and Steamed BBQ Buns are very common items in dim sum place.

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Wonton in Chili Oil and Peanut Sauce, Steamed Pork Ribs in Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Beef Ribs in Black Pepper Sauce and Steamed Pork Liver Rice Rolls with Ginger are more for the … (more…)

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Fatty Cow Seafood Hot Pot on Victoria Dr and 35th Ave, Vancouver

When it comes to hot pot, Richmond has a lot of choices. As a matter of fact, most of the top Chinese hot pot restaurants are found in Richmond. Just to name a few … Chubby Lamb, Hot Pot One, Point Zero Four Fusion, Garden City Hot Pot, and Mongolian Hot Pot.

There is a new one newly opened in Vancouver that I think will give Richmond’s hot pot restaurants a run for the money.

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We heard of rave reviews about Fatty Cow. We also heard that they are expensive too. Hot Pot meals are not cheap anyway and one could easily expect to spend $20 upwards anywhere you go. So even if Fatty Cow was expensive, it was just a few dollars more. So that did not deter us since it was just two of us.

Fatty Cow is located on Victoria Drive at the intersection of 35th Ave. From the outside, Fatty Cow looks very impressive and modern.

We were there early again. When we walked in at 5PM, they were just finishing setting up for the dinner. They open only at 5:30PM and asked that we return later. You know, I wish that restaurants have the sense to allow customers to just take a seat and explain that they are not ready. A simple gesture like that does not take much on the part of the restaurant but customers not only will understand, they will be appreciative.

Well, there was no where to go and it was not exactly a warm day. So we waited in the car until 5:30PM.

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Fatty Cow has got to be one of the prettiest looking hot pot restaurants we had ever been to. It was still new. They had just opened barely a month ago. Everything has a glint to it. Even the workers wears suit like they do in high end Chinese restaurants.

Service is excellent — from the captain to the staff who came by all the time to fill our tea and top up the soup. They even come by every now and then to help us check the temperature. Each time I reach for the controls at the side of the table, often someone will come by and help.

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Don’t you like the new dishware and utensils? We do. It was so sparkling clean. They are even logo’d. Not many hot pot restaurants bother to create a logo/branding for their restaurants unless they are branches of successful hot pot restaurants in Asia. So I was just wondering if Fatty Cow is one of such branches.

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One thing we did not like about Fatty Cow is that they charges extra for sauces. Each serving is 50 cents. The above three is free but if you want additional ones, you gotta pay for it.

The three they gave us was the soy sauce, sesame and sar char. They were excellent. We particularly like the soy sauce which is light and sweet. Good thing they gave us an entire bowl of it.

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Since we like raw garlic we got the above as an extra … 50 cents. Next time we come to Fatty Cow, we will bring our own condiments in small plastic containers.

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Click on the menu above for a larger image. As you can see, it is not cheap. It is $20 per person for Monday through Thursday and $21 for Friday to Sunday. And that is just the start. That price does not include the soup base. The soup base is another $7 and $8.50 if you want a double soup. Good thing is the soup base is charged per table and not per person.

There is a very good selection of meat, dumplings, vegetables, seafood, and noodles. They even have premium seafood items which again comes as extra. You can see how the prices could just add up easily.

No, we did not get the premium seafood items. Too expensive.

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For the soup base, we opted for a double soup base. The left side is called the Fatty Cow Hot and Spicy. We wouldn’t have ordered this if not for the fact they branded this with their name.

The milky soup base on the left side was recommended by the captain as their most popular soup base. This is called spare ribs broth.

I like their burner. It is very responsive. It will boil up the soup in just 3 seconds the moment you crank it up and you could stop the boiling instantaneously too.

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The Fatty Cow Hot and Spicy soup base is just that — SPICY. There are lots of peppercorns in it. See above? The above is just one scoop from the soup base. Frankly I felt it was way too much. So much that we ended up scooping it off to the plate and added it back to the broth if we want to spice it up.

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As for the Spare Rib Broth, it was very good. There are a lot of beansprout and even pieces of pork in it. We took the beansprout out because we like the broth not so “busy”.

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This thing above is wonderful. It is in the snack section of the menu …

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… Fried Fish Skin. It is light and tasted wonderful. They said they make it themselves. It was oily but was just so crispy. This is one snack you should get to start off the meal.

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To make your money worthwhile, you should just focus first on … (more…)

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Swish Swish on Kingsway and Nelson, Burnaby

Updated on 11th July 2010: This restaurant had been closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

I had been getting a steady stream of visitors these days at work. This time it was Lauren who flew in from Atlanta for a few days for discussions and planning. These sort of planning sessions are usually grueling as we try to get as much plans agreed within the few available days. So we normally work through lunch most of the time. We would get someone to order in quick lunches like pizza, subs and Chinese take outs.

Since we were ahead on the agenda, I suggested that we take some time and for once go out for a proper lunch on the last day.

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I suggested that we go to this new Japanese Hot Pot restaurant at the corner of Kingsway and Nelson — a place I had always wanted to go try. That restaurant is called Swish Swish. Most people driving past this busy intersection may not even notice Swish Swish. This is because it is unnecessarily obscured by pillars which serves no function and does nothing aesthetically to the building. I think it would do the building a world of good if they remove those ugly pillars.

Some of my team members were hesitant about going to this untested restaurant. Firstly this restaurant had been opened only for two months and none of us had ever been there before. Secondly, some of them were unsure if Lauren would be partial to having Asian hot pot knowing that most of our colleagues from the US are cautious about the type of Asian food we have here in Vancouver.

But Lauren insisted that she is excited to try it. So we went.

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The interior layout is odd and in a semi-secular arrangement. It does look compact because you could not see to the end of the restaurant from one end. Actually, it does hold quite a number of tables.

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The name Swish Swish is the literal translation from the word Shabu-shabu.

Here they serve two types of Japanese hot pots — shabu shabu or Sukiyaki. They are both hot pots … the main difference is in the type of broth served.

Sukiyaki’s soup base has more flavour because it is made with soya sauce and mirin while shabu-shabu’s broth is primarily water.

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Swish Swish is actually an All You Can Eat Hot Pot place — or at least that is what they started off as.

Their AYCE is $12 for lunch while dinner is $16. The lunch and dinner AYCE is basically the same except that they have lamb available only for dinner. In the mid-afternoon, they give a $2 discount off the lunch menu price. I think that should qualify it as one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, AYCE hot pot in Vancouver.

However, we did not get the AYCE.

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The AYCE would be too much food and will take too long to eat. Instead we had the Lunch Express which they had recently introduced to their menu.

I think it makes sense that they introduce this lighter version of the Japanese hot pot. Most of the lunch’ers around this area are office workers who have time only for quick lunches.

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Besides the Sukiyaki hotpot, they provide rice and appetizers. You can opt for udon instead of rice if you want.

I suggest that you ask for rice. If you opt for rice on the side, they also have vermicelli in the hot pot. However, if you ask for Udon, the Udon is served in the hot pot (without vermicelli).

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