Kings Noodle & Hot Pot 四寶火鍋

I don't do hot pot very often, but it is so satisfying in Edmonton winter weather. I don't think I've ever appreciated hot pot this much just because it felt so good to be nice and warm inside with all the steam rising from boiling pots while it was snowing like crazy outside. Also hot pot is the perfect social setting because it's really fun when everyone is trying to throw things in or fish things out of the soup. It turns into a game of can-you-grab-the-food-before-it-overcooks. Anyway on this particular night out, we chose two different soup bases (+$5 for extra soup base) — a numbingly spicy one loaded with chili peppers and a mild wintermelon broth for the less adventurous.

The price is $22.99/person which is not too bad considering unlimited meat and seafood. The meat selection included beef, pork and mutton. They were all quite good, but my favourite was the beef, closely followed by the mutton. I think I finished about 6 plates of meat by myself. Apparently nobody else at the table wanted a lot of meat for dinner.

Instead we had a lot of vegetarians for the night, so we ended up with a cart of assorted veggies and carbs. The greens and mushrooms were fresh enough, but I try not to touch any non-meat or non-seafood items when I go for all-you-can-eat.

Halfway through the meal, I suggested ordering some sour plum juice ($9.50) to go with the food. Sour plum juice is a popular beverage for hot pot, so I was surprised that nobody at the table had heard of it. Restaurants usually make it in-house, but unfortunately this place only had the bottled version that is available at T&T. The juice was a bit too concentrated and tasted kind of artificial, but it wasn't too bad with ice. It certainly helped with the hot and spicy food, though $9.50 for a bottled drink is definitely a rip-off.

I don't think I've seen oysters this huge for a long time. The oysters were undoubtedly the highlight of the meal for me. They were fat and juicy and surprisingly quite fresh. I would probably come back just for the oysters.

For our complimentary desserts, we were offered a choice between sweet soup and ice cream. I would take a hot bowl of Chinese style sweet soup over ice cream any day. I especially love green bean sweet soup.

I didn't try the ice cream, but it was probably just some generic store-bought stuff. It sure didn't look very creamy.

One thing I liked about this place is that the staff didn't give us dirty looks when we ordered more food. That actually happens a lot at all-you-can-eat restaurants. And sometimes they get really sneaky and "forget" to bring half of the stuff you ordered, but that didn't happen here. Everything arrived promptly and we never felt rushed despite the 2 hour time limit.

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