While the number of places to get Chinese food in Colombo steadily increases with each passing minute, hot potted eating isn't necessarily the easiest to find when you're looking for it. Which is why we were quite excited when we came across, Chinese Hot Pot – a place that's all about hot pots.
Camouflaged against the backdrop of giant Colombo 7/3 houses and such lies this sleeping giant that, we're going, to be honest, we're low key intimidated by.
A mix between a worn-out version of Gu Jun Pyo's house in Boys Over Flowers and a Chinese gangster movie, the ambience at Chinese Hot Pot was bizarre. Crystal chandeliers, potted plants, white furnishings, lots of colourful, cut glass and heaps of space, the restaurant in itself was as close to a sleeping giant as the name suggests. And while we didn't necessarily hate it, we weren't digging it too much either.
Plus, given how there were very few people there, it can get a bit eery. Chathura thinks I'm being paranoid. But, hey!
A General Introduction
A fair warning before you go, if you have no idea about what a hot pot is, we suggest reading the bit that's coming up without having to gawk at the menu for 20 minutes wondering what's going on.
So, before we begin the whole "review" part of it, here are our top tips of "how to not look like an idiot at Chinese Hot Pot".
How To Not Look Like An Idiot at Chinese Hot Pot
- Dining with a hot pot generally refers to cooking meats and veggies in a giant pot of broth at your table itself, instead of having a chef make it for you, that's the basic what you need to know.
- The menu is predominantly written in Chinese and even the non-Chinese bits seem more like Chinese than the actual Chinese bits of it. So, start by choosing between either a mushroom broth or if you're feeling brave enough, the Mala broth.
- We suggest getting the mushroom broth if you're looking forward to eating. However, if you're looking for the whole "mala" experience, by all means, go ahead. But, know that you're choosing the option that requires you to sweat continuosly while you swear at everything around you except the iced tea which will be your saving grace.
- All you need to do is order your meats and veggies and add it to the broth when it starts to bubble and wait till everything is cooked through before eating. You don't want to get tapeworm because of a hot pot.
- Order the iced tea well in advance because it will very much come in use if you're going for the Mala. A 500ml Iced tea goes at Rs. 500 a pop, which sounds ridiculous considering how it's commercially made, but, at that moment, you won't care.
The Hot Pot
Overly egoistic us decided to opt for the Mala hot pot instead of the mushroom one and this is how that went.
If you happen to go for the Mala one, this is what you should expect. A medium-sized brass pot filled almost to the top with a murky, maroon-red broth that's more oil than anything else. And you see that glob of knows what? Yeah, that's gonna disappear. It'll make the broth taste nicer, so be thankful.
Since we wanted some sort of Chicken involved, we decided to get the chicken slices. Pretty as a picture, the frozen chicken had been sliced to the thinnest possible thickness possible to mankind. It tends to disappear into the broth, so you might want to watch out for that.
No one told us the beef would be smothered in chilli and we're gonna be honest, it did make us cry a bit. And the noodles are also freshly made (a while ago) and together, they would up being what our broth mainly comprised of.
We would have gone for veggies, but Chinese Hot Pot Charges Rs. 320 for Coriander so it's a hard pass on that one.
This was the final product. Spicy to the point of tears and having enough oil to have America raid it, the hot pot was packed with flavour and hella SPICY. Maybe we're just weak, we don't know. But, the thick film of oil that clings on to the meat and noodles accompanied by the pleading of our tongues compelled us to stop eating and just move on.
But that being said, the experience in itself was interesting. So if you do want to check them out, you should. Everything we ordered including the iced tea came up to about Rs. 3000, and that's pretty expensive given how fast the food disappeared and how empty we felt. But, if you're willing to spend a tad more, we say go for it.
The staff at Chinese Hot Pot ranged from both not so great, to helpful. The waiters who were mostly locals were lovely. Helping out by telling us how we should eat it to explaining how everything worked, they really helped. However, the foreigners acted like we didn't exist.
It's all right if you're looking for the true Hot Pot experience, especially considering how there aren't many hot pot places in Colombo. But they are a tad on the expensive side of the spectrum, so we say watch out.