Hot Pot is a favorite among the Chinese. It’s so ubiquitous in China that it can be found just about everywhere – from the very north in Mongolia (where it’s believed to have originated) all the way to the south. It’s also called “Chinese Fondue”.
After a bit of research, each in China region does it a little differently: Beijing is known for lamb hotpot in a copper pot, Sichuan for their signature numbing-spicy broth, and the Cantonese region for fresh seafood. I’ve only had Japanese “Shabu Shabu” – one of the different subsets about a half dozen times in Boston. The phrase ”shabu-shabu” actually translates to “swish-swish.” The motion you make when you move your meat from side to side in the hot broth to cook it.
But for those who live here in the Netherlands don’t get confused with the restaurant chain Shabu Shabu – we made the mistake but it does NOT serve shabu shabu it’s a SUSHI restaurant. Why they call themselves that is a mystery.
Seriously, whatever the version or edition you call it hot pot or shabu shabu essentially the cooking of raw ingredients into a pot of boiling broth at the table and enjoying it to the fullest is key! I loved it before and I loved every minute of it this time.
I once watched a program about a restaurant in Singapore that allows you to first catch your fresh, live seafood, put it in the cooler box, and then you drop them into your hot pot. Yes, I know many will say that is so cruel – but is it any different than what we do with our lobsters and crab? Maybe they are asleep in the cooler box like you do with lobsters in the freezer in Maine? Not sure. Anyway, here is their promotional video of the show – I still follow them on Insta. One day if I ever make it to Singapore, I’ll definitely book a table.
Anyway, now you know a bit about hot pot, the rest of the post is going to be about our experience and our delicious food at a specific restaurant we just visited on Saturday night – Hot & Hot on the Goudsesingel in Rotterdam. They have two more restaurants in Amsterdam too.
A couple months ago we walked across the street from this place and from a distance, I was like what an odd name – Day & Day Hot & Hot = odd Not even thinking what it was. So then I find it extra funny now that here we are enjoying our meal in the oddly named restaurant.
Our table was booked a table at 8 pm, but when we arrived, the only tables available were in the back and it was very hot and steamy. We’d be literally sitting so close to other couples, we requested a table towards the front. The issue was that the two large tables were still dirty despite all the guests being long gone. Maybe it is a cultural thing or lack of experience with the staff, but when I worked as a waitress, we’d never leave dirty tables especially the front. Newly arriving guests shouldn’t arrive in your restaurant and the first thing they see is dirty tables. Also, you’d always want to have guests in the window seats. A restaurant that looks empty is never a good sign. Their website says AUTHENTIC SICHUAN FLAVOR & ORIGINAL CHINESE DINING CULTURE but surely I’m reading into the second part too much! 🙂
FIRST YOU CHOOSE THE BROTH
Based on my experience, I know that with hot pot restaurants you can split the pot where you can choose two or even three different soup bases to cook the food in. Most people choose a half spicy and half plain stock. This is great because those who are intolerant to spice don’t have to miss out on the fun and those who like spice and cool down a bit by adding some of the non-spicy broth to theirs. We chose little spicy and mushroom and it was perfect, but we did need a little bit of help with the menu.
W On the other side, mushrooms and spring onions. This side is mild and intended to cook your vegetables, but we mixed them up which was so yummy! Here they had other choices like Pickled Cabbage and a tomato base – but we safely chose “little spicy” and it was plenty spicy for us. How awful it would be if it was mouth numbing and you couldn’t enjoy it.
The most popular hotpot dipping sauce for the Chinese is sesame paste. It compliments spices and meat wonderfully. Some places will just give you a bowl of sesame paste, but some places like this place have a condiments buffet for you to create your own sauce!
In the middle of the restaurant are all trays where you can make your own sauce. For example, there is soy, sesame, and barbecue sauce that you can finish with pieces of peanut, peppers, or spring onions. Unfortunately and not sure how exactly but all the garlic was used and there was no more in stock. Guess all the previous guests were garlic aficionados. There is a “recommended recipe” card that you can follow or make your own. Linn our waitress helped us along with a recommended one which was very delicious. I used up all my sauce and had to go back and make a slightly different version but my mouth waters thinking about the yummy taste.
Now it’s time to select the food! You want variety here to bring out the flavor and compliment your sauce and your broth. Most people will get one meat, one seafood, one tofu, one veggie, and one noodle or one rice dish to design a complete meal.
Here you can make it as adventurous here as you want. The menu contains very different things like organs and blood. While I consider myself adventurous, I draw the line too, so we stuck with recognizable dishes, such as freshly cut beef tenderloin, a veggie platter, mushroom platter, and some udon noodles. That was plenty of food for the two of us. Maybe next time, we’ll add is some lamb or seafood but all in all, it was very delicious and we had just enough for two people.
We ordered a beer each but neither of us knew much about the choices so we ordered two different ones – both were good.
The time varies from a few seconds to five minutes. You are given a slotted spoon and a ladle that you essentially dip your food in and that is how you cook and fish out your food. Dip it into your sauce and enjoy! In Boston we always had a bit of corn on the cob which you had to leave in forever, but we never ended up eating it.
Oh yeah, they were offering something new – a grill option. Here you see a cook grilling some food and the menu choices – but we didn’t get anything.
So, in summary, we LOVED the food, the waitress Linn was very friendly and helpful in explaining how their restaurant works as it was our first time here. We’ll definitely be back again – and I know for sure my 10 & 12-year-old would LOVE to eat here too and I will definitely bring him!
Overall we give it 8.5 out of 10. Surely we’ll be back.
YuGuo is another Hot Pot restaurant in Rotterdam which I saw but due to location and reviews, I went with this one. Perhaps one day we’ll try the other. And I’ve been waiting to go to Yuan’s Hot Pot in Amsterdam for a while too. But next Asian meal I hope will be Korean BBQ at Soul Sista on Witte de With.
Know a great Hot Pot / Shabu Shabu place in the Netherlands – message me – I’d love to hear it.