Thursday, January 31, 2008

Steamboat, hotpot themes that make you go wild and WOW!

Other than "Numb"(Hot) and Spicy (麻辣, pronounced Ma La) hotpot, hotpot varieties are aplenty in Taiwan; and especially during winter (also winter period in the United States), people here enjoy to gather round a table of hotpot/steamboat dinner.

The "steam" that brings warmth to the body, and stomach. Hotpot/steamboat also tends to remind me of Chinese New Year dinner back home in Singapore, where we enjoy hotpot/steamboat in air-conditioned environment :P ....well, it's just too warm and humid to eat something that is constantly "steaming" right in front of you.

What kind of reunion meal will you be having during Chinese New Year this year?

Maybe this can give you some inspiration...why not have a theme-specific hotpot/steamboat meal?

This eatery 元和屋 - Yuans is famed for its seafood hotpot - Japanese style. It's all-you-can eat, 吃到饱 Chi Da0 Bao, for NT350+10% (~USD 12-13) per person during weekends.

The pot and heater plate are imported from Japan, and claimed to have right gradual temperatures imparted from the heater plate to the cooking pot. The cooking broth in the pot does not come to a direct boil and instead gradually simmers. According to their source, this mild gradual control of heat will ensure that seafood that has a delicate texture (fish, for example) does not flake easily while being cooked. Without being subjected to harsh boiling environments, the seafood quality and freshness is maintained.

Prawns, scallops, fish

To prevent wastage of food, this is how the all-you-can-eat operates. From the menu provided, you just have to indicate the item you want(write the representing number down), on little pieces of paper, and pass them to the waiters. Small plates of raw seafood items will then be brought to you. Order and repeat dishes if you wish. The portions are small but you can order them many times. Rather than giving you one big plate/portion that may end up unfinished and lead to wastage of food - this is one simple way of allowing you to enjoy more varieties, and minimize wastage. For example, when you write "2, 12, 19, 34, 28, 11, 14..." under "Seafood", it means grass prawns, black prawns, mussels, clams, scallops, fish tails, fish chins etc etc. Do you notice...we ordered seafood so many times? But that's what we are here for. So...seafood pampered!

More crustaceans-type, clam-type, and fish varieties.

Not all crabs were in-season during that period, so we had 三點蟹 - which directly translates to Three-Dot Crab, and yes...literally, the crab has Three Dots on them!! Is that a little scary to you?

Here's another go...another theme-specific hotpot we had recently. Mushroom Hotpot. You might be thinking - how boring is that ? Just mushrooms ? But they have more than 10 varieties of mushrooms!! It's another all-you-can eat, 吃到饱 Chi Da0 Bao, for NT369 (~USD 12-13) per person during weekends. 菇鲜 (I just call it Mushroom Hotpot since I don't know the English name of the eatery) is definitely a healthy hangout (if you do not have gout :P ) and vegetarian-friendly as well. Of course, you can order poultry and other hotpot ingredients, but mushrooms is their specialty. THE STAR!

They go individual in this eatery. Each of you will get a hotpot right in front of you where you can cook your mushrooms, and other food stuff.

They serve you the 1st plate of many mushrooms! Then you can order what you want/like thereafter.

Black fungi (woodear), shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, trumpet mushrooms, abalone mushrooms etc. Some are just too exotic that I don't even know the species and name.

Even the broth is made from mushrooms.

A healthy version to indulge an all-you-can eat? Let's all leverage during Chinese New Year. Feast as you will, and don't just go bonkers :P

Hmmmm...2 days to go before I touch down the land of extreme warmth and humidity....*sweating sweating* :O

Friends (either you celebrate Chinese New Year or not), here's wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year.

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