The Magic of ChongQing Hot Pot 重庆火锅馆@Tanglin Shopping Center

Many of you would be familiar with the Chong Qing Hot Pot by now since they have been in Singapore since 1994 and is one of the first in South East Asia to feature the traditional Sichuan culinary of Ma-La-Tang. A direct translation of Ma-La-Tang would be Numb-Spicy-Hot. True to its name, the soup base is really tongue numbing and fiery! Even the air around the restaurant smells of the spices used to make the soup.

We went to the outlet at the old, musty Tanglin Shopping Center thinking that it would be less crowded but we were wrong. The restaurant is full and we had to wait for a table even at 8.30pm!

It is not difficult to find the restaurant on the 4th floor of the shopping center. Just use your nose to lead you there 😉 If you do not have a dog’s nose, you would not missed it with such an attractive and big signage (above) outside the restaurant. We waited for another 20min before we got a table at the corner of the restaurant.

The menu here is very simple – Ala Carte or Buffet.

Ala Carte Menu

Dinner Buffet Menu

 We ended up with the dinner buffet as it makes more sense price wise. For $32.90++ per adult, we get to eat all we want and have the option of the Yuan Yang steamboat included. For ala carte orders, each soup base would have cost us $15 and that would already be $30 excluding the steamboat dishes which starts from $3.

For the Steamboat Buffet Dinner, you get to choose from 3 soup base namely: Ma-La-Tang, Faithful Chicken Broth or Preserved Sour Vegetable in Chicken Broth.  For the Ma-La-Tang, you can choose from Mild (1 Chillis), Standard (3 Chillis) or Extra Spicy (5 Chillis).  There are other soup options but you will have to pay additional money for it hence we  stuck to the standard ones.

Our pot of Ma-La-Tang (3 Chillis) and Faithful Chicken Broth. The chicken broth is really thick and creamy – a result of hours of cooking.

To best enjoy the Mala Hotpot, the restaurant recommended 3 magical steps to follow:

 1) Cooked food must be first dipped into their specially prepared sauces; mainly sesame oil and paste, to reduce the temperature and spiciness of the food and to further enhance the taste of the dishes.

2) Eat the sweet and savoury titbits served in between the meals to refresh your palate and let you carry on enjoying the hot pot meal

3) Drink the chilled or hot eight treasures tea to help reduce the heatiness and bring balance to the YIN and YANG within the body which is beneficial to one’s health.

The specially prepared dipping sauces.

I scope out a little of each to taste. They are basically sesame oil, chilli sauce, soya sauce with chilli and garlic and sesame/walnut paste (not too sure about the last one as it tasted a little bitter) I did not really like them hence did not follow the magical step NO.1 😛

With over 64 varieties of items to choose from, it is difficult to be rationale when ordering the items and we ended up with this big tray of food!  We proceeded to order more after finishing this and at last count, we only tasted about 40% of the varieties offered. We had seconds of some items that we like too. Below are the close up of the individual items we had, according to the list on the menu

201. Fresh Prawns: These prawns are really fresh and yummy.

The second serving that we had – the prawns were not as fresh. Not sure if it is because they were closing.

202. Carp Fish Fillet: Very thinly sliced and cooks quickly. Melts in your mouth.

202. Fish Paste: We love this fresh and bouncy fish paste which is spread very thinly on the plate. We had another 2 servings  of it. 🙂

The way to cook the fish paste is to scoop the steaming hot soup over it till the colour turns opaque. I guess you will need about 3-5 “rinse” to cook it and then cut out the portion to be served.

208. Shrimp Wanton: Fresh and meaty shrimp Wanton.

214. Tau Pok with Fish Paste: We did not taste a lot fish paste in this Tau Pok. Not too sure if it was dished out even before the chef had finished putting the fish paste in it.

216. Chicken Fillet: Very thinly sliced so that it cooks very quickly.

218. Tau Kee with Chicken Paste: This is chicken paste rolled in beancurd skin.

220. Mushroom Stuffed with Chicken Paste: Let the mushroom soak up the soup. Divine!

For one order, we received 2 plates of the mushrooms stuffed with chicken paste.

221. Quail Eggs: For eggs lovers, this is the only type of egg available. Do watch those cholesterol!

225. Fillet of Pork: Essentially, this is thinly sliced pork belly where you get the 3 layers of meat intersperse with fats. I did not eat this so cannot comment on it. 😛

230. Sliced Beef : Again, very thinly sliced but I found that it was not very fresh so we only had one order.

233. Beef Balls : The colours do not look like beef balls but we ate it nevertheless. Not really recommended as there were bits of hard stuff in it.

234. Tau Kee : This is deep fried beancurd skin. Let it soak up the soup before eating it 🙂

236. Seafood Toufu:  I did not eat this as I was too full by the time it was ordered and cooked.

237. Bittergourd stuffed with Fish Paste: Like this item very much. You can stew it in the soup such that the bittergourd taste of the soup base you put it into.

We ordered second serving of it as each serving only has 3 tiny slices.

238. Chinese Cabbage: This is usually eaten to help relive the heatiness as chinese cabbage are known to be cooling

250. Tang Or : A vegetable that always reminds me of Chinese New Year 😛

252. Golden Mushroom: A must have in every steamboat!

We ordered a Bai Ling Mushroom. Not sure if this is the one but it looks more like Oyster Mushroom to me.

254. Abalone Mushroom: Taste like abalone.. LOL

260. Spinach Noodles:  We love spinach noodles and I guess this was made in house?

The cooked Spinach noodles. We love it. It has a very lovely fragrance  and though I am really full, I cannot stop eating it 😛

261. Sweet Potato Vermicelli:  A must order! It turns translucent when cooked and is smooth yet retains a bit of chewiness.

262. Taro Strings: No matter how long you cook this taro strings, it will always be bouncy. 🙂  The taste just varies according to the soup base it is thrown into.

On top of all the items that we ordered, there is also a special complimentary one standard serving of  steamboat item – Fresh Salmon, Chicken Sausage and Mock Abalone.

Included in the buffet is one standard serving of the Jing Chuan Dian Xin per pax. This is the sweet and savoury titbits mention in magical step no.2 😉

301. Meat and Chives Dumplings.  One per pax.

Closeup of the meat and chives in the dumpling.

302. Xiao Long Tang Bao:  Nothing to rave nor complain about.  One per pax.

303. Crispy Spring Roll: Interesting stuffing in the spring roll. Bean Sprouts instead of the usual turnip. 🙂  One per pax.

304. Egg coated Glutinous Square, 305. Fried Rolled Buns and 306. Water Chestnut Jelly.  I find that the glutinous square is too heavy to be eaten with this meal hence only cut a bit to taste.

Cross section of the Fried Rolled Buns. I  am surprised at the layers in the bun. Be warn that this bun will fill you up.

Cross section of the Water Chestnut Jelly. There were not a lot of water chestnut in the jelly though but it helps to relive the palate from the numbing steamboat.

309. Ice Cream of the Day. Great Dessert to complete the meal!

I ordered the Hot Eight Treasures Tea, $4.50, to go with my meal and found that it really helped to balance the meal as what was mentioned in Magical Step No.3! A game that we always play would be to count the number of “treasures” in the tea . I only managed to get 5 (Tea, Wolfberries, Red dates, rock sugar and  Ginseng roots ) this time round. LOL…

You get free refill of your tea (be it hot or cold) and the way the hot water is refilled is soo traditional. Hot water is poured out from a kettle with a very long spout. A job that requires some skill and something which I first encountered while I was in China. I was so impressed by them back then and is still impressed now although the waitress did not perform the stunts that I saw in China when the water was refilled. hahaha..

A very satisfying meal though the portion of the items ordered could be more consistent so that we can gauge how much to order. The Ma La soup was a little bitter towards the end, perhaps due to certain spices releasing its flavour through the 2 hours of constant boiling. Hence my recommendation if you want to drink the Ma La soup is to drink it after it is served and not at the end of the meal.

The Magic of ChongQing Hot Pot 重庆火锅馆

19 Tanglin Road,
#04-06 Tanglin Shopping Centre,
Singapore  247909
Tel: +65 6734 8135 / Fax: 6734 9789
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm
http://www.chinesefeasts.com.sg/

Buffet Pricing
Lunch:
Weekday (Mon -Thur) : Adult $18.90++, Child $12.90
Weekend (Fri – Sun): Adult $20.90++, Child $13.90++
Dinner:
Weekday (Mon -Thur) : Adult $30.90++, Child $21.90
Weekend (Fri – Sun): Adult $32.90++, Child $22.90++

*Prices subject to changes on eve and actual public holidays

Photos taken with Iphone4S

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