There’s more to life than queuing for one over-hyped steamboat place.
Let’s get one thing straight – it’s not that we don’t like Singapore’s buzzing hot pot spot, Hai Di Lao. We’re just not fans of waiting in line and never getting to redeem our manicure card.
Instead, we’ve spent all that could-have-been waiting time trawling the island for equally good, if not better, hot pot joints. Here’s five of our best finds.
1. Upin Hot Pot 優品火鍋
#03-87 The Central Mall, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, Singapore 059817
Tel: 6221 5550
Opening hours: 11am to 3am, daily
Few know that this hot pot outlet located in The Central is opened by a couple formerly from the more popular Hai Di Lao right across the river. Not only does Upin offer a better view of the waterfront, it’s also open until 3am daily, making it the perfect supper spot sans queue. Popular soups here are the ma la (hot and spicy), or the tangy tomato broth.
2. Fountain Hot Pot 沸腾火锅
44 Foch Rd, Singapore 209270
Tel: 8222 9866
Opening hours: 4pm to 2am, daily
Fountain Hot Pot is our most recent discovery, made while we were dropping off a batch of Saucy Sour Plum Shots at our warehouse in Boon Keng and were searching for a hot pot place nearby.
We couldn’t resist picking the big pot with three different soup bases (a steal at just $18): beef lard spicy soup, pork bone soup, and the unexpected star of the night — a sweet, tasty mushroom soup that just got better as we dipped our meats and vegetables in.
The meats here are also great value, with generously-marbled slices of beef and pork belly coming in from just $6 a plate. Our pro tip: Get two portions of the ‘3-second fried bean curd skin’. The crispy golden rolls unfurl in just a couple of seconds (hence the name) when dipped into hot soup, and are excellent for soaking up all the flavour of the broths.
PS: Plus points to Fountain Hot Pot for letting us open a bottle of Sour Plum Shots free of charge! The perfect drink to pair with our steamy supper.
3. Spicy House Restaurant 辣府火锅
30 Merchant Road, #01-07, Riverside Point, Singapore 058282
Tel: 6493 7213
Opening hours: 11am to midnight, daily
Adding to the hotpot scene here in Singapore is this Shanghai import serving up authentic Chengdu-style hot pot. Their signature soup base is the Mala Butter, a rich concoction thanks to the generous amount of butter stirred into the broth. We like how there’s a variety of untypical dishes here to choose from, such as fish with pickled vegetables, kampong chicken and pig’s stomach. The star of our show: Kidney marinated in egg yolk.
4. Beauty In The Pot 美滋锅
#05-15/16 The Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Road, Singapore 238843
Tel: 6235 3557
Opening hours: 11.30am to 6am, daily
One of our go-to steamboat places whenever we’re in town. The Beauty Collagen broth is our favourite, made by simmering sharks’ cartilage for about six hours until the soup achieves a luscious, creamy consistency. Besides the usual prime beef and pork platters, what we also like here are interesting items like the homemade fish tofu, made from yellowtail fish paste, and the soft bone pork meatballs.
5. Da Miao Hotpot 大妙火锅
#01-11 The Cannery, 3C River Valley Road, Singapore 179022
Tel: 6250 9969
Opening hours: 11.30am to 4am, daily
If you’re one for spicy soups, then Da Miao Hotpot is a must-try. Originally from Sichuan, Chengdu, the ma la here is a true force to be reckoned with. Pick from their selection of offal – pig’s trachea and fresh tripe – to go with the mind-numbingly spicy broth, and round off the meal with the deep-fried mantou and condensed milk.