Thursday, July 21, 2005

Xiao Ping Steam Pot Buffet, Temple Street


Wow - this is the third Sichuan Hot Pot place within a one block radius in Chinatown (57 Temple Street, Singapore, 6226-0889). It looked very spartan at first glance, especially with the "whispering" proprietor. But this place turned out to be the best - or at least, most consistent - of the three. The ingredients were relatively good: big frozen tofu pieces, full slices of meat, little dumplings, etc. They didn't have sa cha sauce (the mainland Chinese owner even said, "no, we don't have that Taiwanese stuff"), but his own little mixture was pretty good. He took a lot of pride in his special sausages (an extra charge, by the way) that he said that one couldn't get in Singapore - though they just tasted like hot dogs (still good though). The broth wasn't super spicy (we had to have him add more chili peppers), but it was tasty (and with a subtle numbing affect), and the light broth fortunately didn't have any ginseng in it.

Actually, nothing really stood out here, but that's a good thing. The other two places stood out, but for mixed reasons (for instance, Chuan Jiang Hao Zi had great homemade noodles but nasty ginseng soup and tiny meat slices, while Chong Qing Di Yi Jia Lao had a huge spread and good broth, but wasn't the best maintained). So I'd definitely choose to come here again rather than the other two - it's a consistent experience, even if it's not spectacular (it's still decently good).


Anonymous said...

just tried out this joint. it was real bad, waited for 20 minutes before they finally served broth, and it wasn't even hot! waited for another 10 minutes before the rest of the food was served.

they "forgot" to bring some of the food that we ordered. for those stuff that they did remember to bring, it's really so-so in taste only.

i am not even going to talk about the ambience there, if there is any, unless you enjoy having your steamboat together with some uncles and their prc "mistreses".

definately a thumb down from me. 1st & last time i am going there!

bma said...

Yeah, no one ever said anything about ambience or promptness here. For that matter, hot pot places aren't exactly romantic places to begin with (even if you think about some of the really top-end hot pot places in Taiwan like Tai Ho Dian where celebrities often go, it's still not really a place for ambience). And waiting for the broth to boil is something that is pretty much par for the course at these sorts of places.

The reason I like this guy so much is because he has the best quality ingredients (especially the thinly sliced meat) out of anyone else that I have tried in Singapore, and is closest in taste to the ones that I love in Taiwan (i.e., not too herbal nor numbing with a generally good condiment mix). If you haven't realized one thing about me already, it's that ambience is the last thing on my priority list. As long as the food is good, then nothing else really matters. (In fact, I oftentimes dislike chi-chi places precisely because they are too focused on presentation rather than taste.)

Still, Sichuan hot pot is a bit of an art form, to be honest. Because it is dependent on the customer to select and cook not only the ingredients and the condiments, I can easily imagine one of these meals going bad quickly (and I've heard of many a folk not liking this stuff). Everyone has their own preferences, and mine usually consist of just the sliced lamb, sliced beef, veggies, tofu, and noodles. My sauce - in the absence of Taiwanese sa cha sauce - is heavily based on sesame oil, cilantro, and a raw egg, and I tell the guy to make the broth extra spicy. If I didn't have any of these and was forced to eat someone else's selection of seafood and/or vinegar-based sauce instead, then I would hate this stuff too.

dottiedot said...

hi there.. i was surfing for recommendations for steamboat places in geylang when i stumbled upon your website. try the Xian De Lai in Liang Seah Street if you have the chance. The steamboat is pretty good there..and airconditioned.

teepee said...

hi, i chanced upon your blog while surfing for food online. you've some really good food there. in anycase, i totally agree with you that taste preceeds presentation. this is however,a point which singaporeans fail to understand. if you ask me, i think singaporeans in general do not know the art of eating. most think big bucks=good food. i enjoy reading your reviews! keep it going!

ps: taiwanse sa cha sauce is sooo good! i'm pretty surprise that foreigners love it too. i think steamboat without sacha is incomplete :)

Anonymous said...


I knw tis is real late and you may hv moved on :)

But I just discover tis Guo FU at China sq that is pretty good
Guo Fu Restaurant
20 cross street, #01-23/24, China Court,
China Square Central , Singpoare 048422.

Do ry.. and NO I DO NOT own the place. but just like the fact that my orders are served and not take from a fridge and no PRC mistresses :p