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Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Though you won’t make a glamorous entrance by ascending the tiny lift of the boutique Lodgewood by L’hotel Mongkok, you’ll be pleased once you step inside this upscale hot-pot establishment. The well-ventilated space is modern and comfortable; while the interiors aren’t particularly impressive, they set the tone for an elevated evening beyond the chaos that your standard hot pot usually entails. If you’re looking to stage a memorable soiree, try to reserve the largest private dining room of the seven on offer – it comes with its own karaoke system.
First, you’ve got to start with your base. Canton Pot features a broad selection of soup bases – definitely be sure to ask for half-portions so that you can try more than one. Among them, the preserved egg and coriander was a particular standout.
Then, it’s ingredient time. Past all the helpful themed set options (lobster, Korean, Japanese, vegetarian and so on) that most people probably opt for after the overwhelmingly long menu leads to mind overload, one of Canton Pot’s specialities is its selection of premium beef, pork, lamb and seafood. The extremely high-quality Grade 1++ Hanwoo Korean beef chuck is a fantastic find. At HK$428 for 170 grams, it’s a bit of a sticker shock compared to standard hot-pot restaurants, but you do get what you pay for – the gorgeous marbling makes for some seriously tasty meat in the broth.
Don’t be fooled by the boring name – the “assorted dumpling platter” takes the average and elevates it, with 12 pieces of delectable dumplings filled with crab roe and coral clams, kimchi and mixed mushrooms, and morel mushrooms and Kurobuta pork. After all that, if you’ve still got room for dessert, you may be surprised by the well-balanced green tea and red bean panna cotta, which brings a sweet (but not overly so) conclusion to the meal.
As befits pairings at a hot-pot restaurant, the selection of juices, teas and beers sits front and centre. However, there are a few red, white and sparkling wines by the glass, with most full bottles less than HK$500. In addition, there is an extensive Japanese sake list.
On our visit, staff were attentive and professional, although they seemed to be a bit overloaded at times. At the conclusion of the meal, unfortunately it took about 15 minutes to flag down a waiter to get dessert and the cheque, at which point it was too late to correct a mistake on the dessert order given the long wait.
Though it’s quite a bit pricier than your average hot-pot experience (at about HK$1,300 with generous portions for two including alcoholic drinks), Canton Pot offers good value for money, given the premium ingredients and the overall convivial atmosphere.