Monday, January 02, 2012

Hot Pot One 滾1滾


Hot Pot One is located just beside Fisherman's Terrace on the 3rd floor of Aberdeen Centre. The place seems like a less popular choice for dim sum, but I don't really see why. In fact, I think the seating is much more comfortable here and it's a lot less noisy. Then again, some people think the noise makes the experience truly authentic. I'm obviously not one of those people. Or rather, I've had my fair share of "authentic" Chinese dining experiences.


Bonus points for individual tea! There's a $1 tea list and a $2 tea list, depending on whether you want regular or "deluxe" tea. If you're not quite in the mood for tea, you could just opt out and ask for hot water instead. It's good that there's no mandatory tea charge. I tried a black tea called luk on (六安) ($2) and found it rather bitter. Is it supposed to be bitter?


The tea leaves came with a traditional lidded bowl, but I asked for a plastic steeper instead. It's a pretty cool contraption. The tea leaves go in the smaller plastic cup in the top half of the steeper. When the tea is ready, a push of the small button on top allows the liquid to drop to the bottom. That way, the tea doesn't get too strong if it's left in the steeper.


We started with build-it-yourself congee. A pot of plain congee (明火粥底) is $4.25 by itself, and each additional add-in is $3.50. We just chose one add-in: ostrich meat (鴕鳥肉). The flavour of the meat was interesting and I rather enjoyed it. The texture was a cross between beef and chicken — slightly softer than beef but firmer than chicken. I actually thought the taste reminded me of pork liver except it was milder. Yes I realize that description makes it sound unappetizing, but it's really quite good. The congee, however, was a bit too bland for my taste. I know plain congee is supposed to be bland, but seriously there was no flavour at all like it was diluted (or had too little rice in proportion to water).


The Chinese doughnuts (港式油條) ($2.50) looked a bit dry, but the inside was actually quite soft and chewy. The outside was crispy enough and the savouriness went well with the bland congee. It was definitely not the best I've had, but decent enough for a dim sum place.


Of course just like at most other dim sum restaurants, dessert was served in the middle of the meal. We got the purple glutinous rice balls (精美紫米糍) ($3.75) with black sesame filling. They were served hot and tasted ok with the chewy glutinous rice skin and the warm sweet liquid filling. But I left a couple for the end of the meal, and by then the skin had hardened and the filling had kind of congealed as well. If you get this dessert, finish it all before it gets cold. Or just don't get it at all. It wasn't amazing to begin with.


The vegetarian fun guo (杜小月素粉果) ($4.50) was beyond my expectations. The skin was nice and chewy, and the fillings were very flavourful.


I had expected a bit more bitter melon in the pan fried bitter melon fish cake (香煎涼瓜魚餅) ($4.75). I found it was mostly fish cake with just a few small chunks of bittter melon mixed in. It was a pretty boring dish, but it tasted alright.


Now the pan fried buns (啫啫生煎包) ($5.50) were quite interesting. They were served in a hot pot and were still sizzling away when they came to the table. The bun jiggled on my plate like a squishy mochi ball when I poked at it with my chopsticks. Weird! I thought the texture would be really bouncy, but it was very soft and dense, though it did have a little bit of bounce to it. I would recommend trying this because it's tasty and unique.


Overall Hot Pot One is a pretty decent dim sum place. I'm surprised because it's so rare that I find a dim sum restaurant good enough to revisit. Sometimes I go back to mediocre restaurants, but that's because going for dim sum is like a habit for many Chinese people. We go there with our families every weekend, attempt to talk to each other over the din, all the while eating crappy food, drinking crappy tea and suffering poor service. Because this is what we did every weekend as we were growing up. I know Richmond is supposed to have the best Chinese food, but I think I just have really high standards because I'm Chinese. Anyway Hot Pot One is one of the better ones of the bunch, so give it a try and decide for yourself.

Note: There's a 20% discount on dim sum if you finish the meal (pay and leave) before noon.

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