Despite the sweltering summer in Hong Kong, with the temperature hitting a record 37°C, local consumers are still intriguingly fond of sizzling dishes such as hotpot and Korean BBQ. Hotpot is literally one of the hottest items on Hong Kong’s most popular restaurant search engine, proving just how much Hong Kong people love it.
The diversity and flexibility of a hotpot meal are the main reasons behind its popularity. Meanwhile, the relatively low labour cost in running a hotpot shop can explain why there are so many newcomers in the pipeline. In addition, hotpot is very inclusive – it allows vegetarians and meat lovers to eat at the same table (with separate pots and chopsticks, of course). It could be a $200 all-you-can-eat menu for big eaters or a delicate menu for seafood lovers. Above all, hotpot encourages people to talk and interact instead of sticking down their noses or lowering their heads toward their mobile phones. Interpersonal communication coupled with a great deal of variety can account for the success of hotpot restaurants in Hong Kong.
Here are some recently opened or soon-to-open hotpot restaurants in the city:
This is the most successful hotpot chain in mainland China, first opened in 1994. These Sichuan-style hotpot restaurants offer over a dozen soup varieties. On top of the high-quality food, Haidilao is equally famed for its service. To make customers feel pampered while waiting in the long queue, it offers complimentary manicures and shoe-cleaning services. After 20 years, it has been able to establish an extensive footprint, with more than 100 restaurants across all major cities in China plus shops in Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and even the US. Finally, its very first shop is set to open in Hong Kong. The spacious restaurant of more than 17,000 square feet is located in Mongkok. It’s not yet known if the shop will provide free manicures, but it will offer 24/7 service in this city that never sleeps.
To open soon in Kowloon Building, 555 Nathan Road, Mongkok
Big Boils Club
This Qing Dynasty–themed hotpot restaurant allows patrons to dine in a palace-like atmosphere. The cloisonné boiler and blue-and-white porcelain tableware bring together a unique experience mimicking royal dinners from more than 200 years ago. The ingredients are as luxurious as the decor. They offer chicken and fish maw soup, which is not just delicious but is also a good source of collagen. Also recommended are the handmade meatballs and Japanese beef sashimi.
Shop 116–125, 1/F, Marble 33, 33 Marble Road, North Point, 2331 3838
If you find imperial-style dining too over the top and would like to try something more down to earth, Market Hotpot is the place for you. By transforming the eatery into a wet market, the fit-out of the restaurant is minimal: a big, round table is covered by a sheet of plastic while overhead is a plain light bulb covered by a red cap, a typical look found in wet markets in the old days. The restaurant also features graffiti of now-deceased “King of Kowloon” Tsang Tsou Choi, a renowned street artist. But why make a hotpot restaurant wet market themed? Apparently, back in the day, local housewives would take a break from grocery shopping at the wet market by treating themselves to a light hotpot meal before heading home to prepare dinner for the family.
2/F, Dundas Square, 43H Dundas Street, Mongkok, 2782 2003
Lun Gor Private Club
Lun Gor Private Club draws a lot of attention because it offers an all-you-can-eat menu with a wide selection of seafood: from big scallops and razor clams to crispy grass carp, squid and giant grouper, just to name a few. To make it even more appealing, there is no time limit for diners! Except for the big scallops and razor clams, all food can be refilled upon request. Other than the hotpot, its chicken pot is also highly praised by customers.
9 Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po, 5546 6499/6209 3572