Warmth for the soul

Every year, when the weather begins to cool, people line up outside their favorite one-pot restaurants.

Although these dishes are popular year round, the rising steam, sizzling sounds and smells are certainly more appetizing when it’s colder.

At The Drunken Pot, the local favorite chicken pots have been jazzed up, along with a pork bone broth and an array of Insta-worthy toppings for the full experience.

The classic chicken pot (from HK$198) is founder Vivien Shek’s favorite because of its spiciness and the rich flavor of the marinated chicken.

However, the new Korean-style chicken pot (from HK$198) – seasoned with spicy Korean sauce and containing cheese and cabbage – is definitely gaining fans.

“Korean cuisine has been a favorite of many Hongkongers for a while now, and when we were brainstorming ideas for the new menu, we thought it might be a good idea to combine the Korean style with a local favorite,” said Shek.

While meat, seafood and vegetables all go well with the rich broth, Shek recommends the deep-fried homemade bean curd roll Your Favorite Double Cheeseburger (HK$58), a new addition to the signature beancurd roll topping. Made with cheese, diced Angus beef and homemade tomato sauce, the rolls are best appreciated dipped in the broth, allowing the cheese to melt slightly.

For a perfect match for hot pot or a snack with beer, try the crunchy fish cracklings. A must-try is the Singaporean-style pepper shrimp fish cracklings (HK$68), rolled in sakura shrimp.

In addition to Cantonese chicken pots, the Sichuan hot pot is a must-have for a quality belly-warming meal in the cooling season.

Sichuan Lab at Wan Chai is the ideal place for such a meal, having recently launched five brand new hot pots (HK$488).

The beef brisket with kampot pepper hot pot proves to have more to it than just being spicy, as the black pepper delivers a strong yet delicate aroma with floral and citrus hints and the tender beef brisket soaks up the flavorsome broth – especially the sweet carrots.

For spice aficionados who want to challenge their tolerance, there is the beef tripe and pork intestine with duck blood curd in a Sichuan style hot pot. Made with blisteringly hot green chilis and fresh and dried Sichuan peppercorns, it guarantees a tingling and numbing experience.

The Sichuan-native braised fish head with pork belly hot pot is another choice for those who like it hot.

But if you can’t take the heat or don’t want an avalanche of tongue-numbing spice, the traditional mandarin fish slices with pickled vegetables hot pot serves up boneless fish in a warm, hearty and sour broth, while the sand ginger chicken hot pot contains notes of pine and camphor, promising a guilt-free meal with rich flavors.

Prefer something that goes with a steaming bowl of fluffy white rice? A clay pot dish is always the right answer. A new menu of five clay pot dishes at Chili Fagara at Central is sure to induce cravings.

The traditional chicken and mushroom clay pot is given a twist in the stewed chicken pot with abalone and pearl garlic in Sichuan-style (HK$228). The addition of abalone elevates the dish.

The fiery beef brisket braised with taro and turnip (HK$198) combines hearty, melt-in-the-mouth spicy beef brisket with earthy chunks of taro and turnip that absorb the flavorful sauce.

Another meaty pot, pork ribs braised with chestnuts and shallots (HK$268), is deliciously tender.

Vegetarians are also in for a treat. Also on offer are dishes such as stewed trio mushroom (HK$148), with fresh basil and grated ginger simmered in a Chinese wine-laced gravy, as well as braised tofu with Chinese mushroom and carrot (HK$138), which is simple but satisfying.

(This article was published at The Standard on November 27, 2020: Weekend Glitz: Warmth for the soul )

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