Tis the season to stuff your face with boiled soy sauce meat and roll around moaning for hours after!
Now that we’ve officially entered the part of the year that calls for layers upon layers of clothing, I’m finally free to let loose and eat everything in sight without fear of bikini bulge repercussions. You can bet that means a mess of All You Can Eat Hot Pot menus are on the horizon for me.
If you’re a person who eats, and more specifically you’re a person who eats hot pot, you’re probably aware that a good 63% of the novelty comes from creating a a sauce monstrosity. It’s not just about your soy sauce when it comes to the pot, it’s about the garlic, the ginger, the green onions, and the chilli pepper. It’s about the satay, the peanut, the xo, the fish, and whatever other mystery brown sauce you can find to dump in.
To create only the most delectable and exquisite combination of sauces requires an artistic freedom, and at K. K. Dollar Hot Pot in Richmond, this freedom is afforded to you in the most gracious of forms – the buffet bar.
But even the sauce might not have been enough to save me tonight. In fact, despite the fact that after toiling like a mad scientist for minutes to create the perfect balance of mingling flavours, it might just be the thing to kill me.
Yes, my friends, it is true – mid meat dip, I spied a spiky strand of hair clinging to my beef slice. Panic, terror, cold fear – all emotions that washed over me but in life, as in theatre, the show must go on.
Quick flick and beef to the side, I soldier on.
Besides the All You Can Sauce bar, K. K. is also unique in the way of their soup pots. Individually sized, this means that each person gets to choose their very own soup base. This also means that each person gets to keep their very own limbs because in hot pot, if your arm gets in the way of my reach radius, it’s tough nuts for you.
I cannot be held responsible for the actions I take when possessed by the spirit of unlimited boiled foods and a deluge of savoury sauces.
In addition to the $22 regular menu, or the $27 deluxe menu, the soup bases range from an additional $3.75 to $7.50. Characteristically asian, we opt for the $22 menu and the $3.75 options of plain and satay soup.
Individual pots earn definite novelty points, but both broths lacked flavour and were watered down.
When it comes to meat decisions, it’s no question. Supreme beef slices, lamb slices, and pork slices are a must, but they are clearly from frozen and cook out on the dry side. Oddly enough, I’ve had worse. Much, much worse.
Any meat discussion without luncheon meat discussion would be no discussion at all.
Luncheon meat might just be the greatest thing to hit hot pot menus in ever. Real meat? No way. Edible? Probably not. Delicious? You bet. But here’s the kicker – you can boil these babies for hours and they’ll still be soft and moist. Herein lies the genius of luncheon meat.
It would have been nice to see a few chicken options here as well since there are none, but such is life.
Mussels, cuttlefish, and crabmeat as predicted, are rubbery and tasteless.
In the way of veg and tofu, the standard options are available – soft and frozen tofu, cabbage, pumpkin, lotus rood, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, watercress, bean sprouts, napa, white radish, dried bean curd, and of course every mushroom except enoki, the only one I actually like.
Time to talk dumpling and noodles, the part of hot pot that will always hold a special place in my heart. There’s nothing quite so comforting as taking a big squishy bite into a steaming mound of dough.
The udon is unremarkable, and call me crazy, but the handmade ramen tastes suspiciously similar to instant ramen. The rice cakes are typical, though rather small and it would have been nice if an order meant more than five pieces between two people.
The pork and cabbage dumplings are the highlights of the night with a nice chewy dough and generous meat portions, but the Shanghai Wontons were slightly odd with a mysterious green veg filling that left a bizarre aftertaste.
With a five star sauce bar and individual pots, would I return?
No, no, thank you. It might have been Chinese restaurant clean at a glance (minus the hair bit), but the value was just not there. At $30 a head, the limited variety of food and all the small extra costs for cooked snacks like chicken wings, short ribs, squid, and onion cakes, I think I’ll take my business to one of the other thirty hot pot restaurants within a 5 minute walk.