We finally have some cold weather, and there’s nothing better than hotpot when the weather is chilly – sharing a communal, sociable meal with close friends and family, relaxing whilst you cook your ingredients to order yourself.
Hotpot is not very compliant with COVID restrictions though, which is why hotpot delivery to your home makes so much sense. But how does this work?
After five or so years at Foodie, I received my first tasting meal delivered to my home, and I admit I was nervous and excited. What was expected of me? Did I have to like it? What if my pictures were terrible? This is why I am not usually on the writing team. But I needn’t have worried too much.
Chiu Tang is a fine-dining Chinese restaurant in Central, specialising in Chiu Chow cuisine. Whilst I have enjoyed hotpot in my time – and even used to own a steamboat in the days before my kitchen was tiny – I had never before had hotpot delivery.
Some hotpot deliveries include a burner rental (and I was kind of expecting this), but what we received was much simpler. A real pot – filled three-quarters full with lots and lots of seafood – plus soup, soy sauce and freshly chopped chilli. I liked the proper pot (although it made me mildly anxious about what I should do with it afterwards) and that the soup tubs were of the compostable, eco-friendly type, but I would have preferred not to have received cutlery, soy sauce and cut chilli because I have all those things at home.
This is the Chiu Chow Style Hot Pot for Winter Solstice menu (from $1,688 for 4). I first spied eel maw, scallops, conpoy, abalone and some enormous prawns (more about them later). Also included in the hotpot but not immediately visible were seasonal fish, fish balls and seasonal vegetables. The soup included was chicken and pork broth with pickled vegetables and white pepper.
Without my steamboat, I was unsure what the plan should be, but I decided to forge ahead on the most obvious path. I put the soup in the pot and put the pot on the hob, and this turned out to be the correct decision. After just a few minutes in the hot broth, the prawns went white, and I prepared a couple of bowls.
One of my offspring has recently become pescatarian (and the other is sadly unadventurous), so we were down to two tasters for a hotpot for four people, due to the soup base. This was obviously not a big problem, and if you are ordering from Chiu Tang, they are able to supply a vegetable soup base on request. This soup was light, with a strong but not overwhelming flavour of white pepper. The conpoy (dried scallops used to make XO sauce) shredded naturally as I served the soup, and we could taste them in the broth as we ate.
The seafood was really fresh. Having grown up in Australia, where we forgo turkey for cold, fresh prawns for a summer Christmas, I have become quite particular about my prawns. These were enormous and increased in size during cooking. They were, happily, cooked to perfection, with a firm, crisp, bursting texture, and each one took several bites to finish.
My only previous experience with fish maw has been writing about Avant Meats and their cell-cultured fish maw here in Hong Kong, so I was really looking forward to trying it. It was tender, easy to bite and soaked up the flavour of the soup base. Huge, firm, slightly sweet and plentiful Japanese scallops meant we were not fighting over portions. The abalone was thinly sliced and tender. The homemade fish balls were lovely, and there were lots of pieces of seasonal fish floating around too. Tremendous – what a treat!
Chiu Tang's Chiu Chow Style Hot Pot for Winter Solstice menu
This pot for four people is available for $1,688, which is more than I would normally spend on a home delivery, however, I would consider getting this again as a special treat owing to the quality of the seafood. If you have a set-up at home where you can do the traditional-style communal hotpot, it would be even better – in a way, the convenience and ease of preparation did not do it justice because we simply ate it too quickly. Perhaps Chiu Tang shouldn’t have made it so tasty!
The portion size is more quality than quantity. We were not able to finish it all (even though we really, really tried), but if we had two more people, we would probably have wanted more. The beauty of being at home though is that you can easily supplement with additional ingredients.
You can return the pot to their restaurant (which we did, because who has room for another pot?), but it’s not necessary. The return is a small inconvenience, but it feels good that you are contributing to a more reusable, responsible ethos in the delivery world, which usually ends with a mountain of throwaway plastic.
Please also advise if you don’t wish to receive sauces or cutlery, and Chiu Tang will oblige. You are ordering directly from the restaurant and they are delivering it themselves. They do require three days’ notice to order, so plan ahead.
The wonderful tradition of hotpot is suffering more than most in these strange times, so if you love it, give it a shot from your favourite restaurant, at home.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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