Going Non-Traditional: Buddy Hotpot
If you’ve lived awhile in China, you’re already familiar with the ceremony of gathering around a big, boiling pot of spiced-water and throwing in anything you can imagine with a few friends. With the weather cooling down, it’s certain your Chinese colleagues will now enthusiastically suggest a soothing hotpot meal as you fight off the cold breeze together.
So, there’s hotpot and then there’s steamed hotpot. How, you say? Venture over to Buddy Hotpot at One Mall and see for yourself.
Stepping inside, the dining area looks pretty much like any other Chinese hotpot place. Looking closer, you might notice wooden boxes resting atop the table-mounted pots, which look a bit like small, old shipping containers. Crack one of them open and you’ll find steaming morsels waiting to be devoured.
Although the menu is in Chinese, Vincent, one of the owners, is always there to help out the hungry and lost foreign sheep. While ordering, he mentioned that this type of hotpot is unique in Dongguan and that they are constantly trying to make it better.
Because of cold weather the day we went, our meal started with a standard soup version, which was interestingly spiced with a tom yum base that actually turned out to be quite good. Before the soup arrived, a tray with eight different ingredients was brought for each of us to make custom dipping sauces. Otherwise, we ate traditional hotpot ingredients.
After finishing the soup, the magic steam contraption arrived. Because the box is a bit hefty, our waiter asked us if we wanted the food steam-cooked on another table, but since it was our first time, we wanted the full experience. After turning on the table’s heating element, steam began slowly seeping out of the box’s tiny slits. The selection we chose included 10 different foods like shrimp, broccoli, winter melon, fish balls and more. Everyone should be able to find something they like. Most of the items also have sauce pairing, as well.
Our host was a bit worried that the regular and steamed hotpot combination would leave a lot of leftover food for five people, but it was good and we ate like pigs. Some of us liked the tom yum hotpot for its exotic infusion into a standard fare. The rest preferred the steamed food, thanks to the interesting sauces and presentation.
Dinner for five and four beers cost us 378 RMB. We’ll return later to see what new steamed combinations our new Buddy is cooking up.
Address: 2/F, Chang Yue Hui, One Mall, First International, Nancheng (2nd floor of Fashion Electronic)