It’s almost that time of year again, to wrap up in your snuggliest sweaters and cozy up around a simmering hot pot, surrounded by friendly faces. When I first moved back to Taiwan, I never really understood the appeal of hotpot. For me, it felt like I was in a restaurant, but paying to cook my own meal. However, one time, it finally dawned on me that the reason people in Taiwan go out for hot pot, is because we don’t really invite people into our homes for meals anymore. Some of the reasons is the lack of space; or because it’s just so much easier to eat out and not have to worry about cleaning before, and after, grocery shopping, food prep and making sure you have enough seating and plates, etc., etc. So, hotpot restaurants can be a good substitute for the feeling of a home cooked meal. The atmosphere is usually very relaxed, and since you have to cook some of the ingredients gradually, you linger a bit longer than you usually would at a regular restaurant.
The place I’m going to share with you in this post is one of the more old fashioned type of hotpot restaurants. There is no decor, just concrete floors, and serviceable tables and stools. If they run out space for you and your party, they simply set up tables in the neighboring alley, or right on the sidewalk out front.
When you first arrive, the owners will ask you what soup you would like. You have two choices, the ginger chicken, or chicken with bamboo shoots. What is different about this type of hotpot is, you choose all the ingredients you want added, and they boil them with the chicken soup and bring it to your table ready for you to eat. (For other type of hot pot, you cook ingredients as you eat them)
Here, the soup is cooked in a clay pot, then brought out to your table and set over charcoal briskets. The charcoal briskets keep the soup rolling at gentle boil, and all the ingredients stay warm throughout your meal.
We started off with an appetizer of sesame oil noodles, which I highly recommend (I forgot to get a close up photo of the noodles, but you can see them over the edge of the pot). We chose the chicken with bamboo shoots soup. We added baby corn, cabbage, mushrooms, different type of tofu, and assorted meat filled dumplings to our soup. There were generous chunks of bamboo and chicken to enjoy too.
The food is simple, yet hearty and wholesome. The owners are friendly and thoughtful, coming over at just the right times to refill the soup, or to re-stoke the charcoal. Once Taiwan finally gets chilly, there is nothing more comforting than spending an hour or two, with friends, sharing a bubbling, fragrant pot of soup, and watching the lanterns sway gently in the wind.
PS: Happy Thanksgiving for those of you who are in the U.S.!
Information: Address: No. 111, Jianguo 1st Rd, Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City, 242 |Phone: 02 2901 9717 |Hours: 4PM–1AM |新北市新莊區建國一路111號 |電話: 02-2901-9717