Shanghai's Chicken Hot Pot in Singapore
That was unexpected. After walking around the basement of the newly renovated Temasek Tower tonight to see if there were anything interesting to eat, I was nearly ready to give up. But then I spotted a "Chicken Pot" sign in the distance with a chili pepper in the middle (8 Shenton Way #B1-21, 6220-8048). Hmm...what was this? Closer inspection revealed some kind of a spicy chicken restaurant from Shanghai that had allegedly attained all sorts of praise over the past few years. OK - I figured that it was worth a try.
Now, normally the words "spicy hot pot" conjure up images of a bright red Sichuan broth swirling around in a big metal pot. But this was nothing of the sort. What came out instead was a burner-supported claypot containing what appeared to be meat cooked in a dark soy sauce. Uh oh - for a guy that doesn't really get too excited about food stewed in soy sauce, that didn't look too encouraging.
But I didn't mind the taste as much as I thought I would. The soy sauce wasn't as heavy as it looked, and as long as one specified that he wanted the spiciest version possible, then it actually got a bit more interesting. Finding cuts of daikon and cloves of garlic inside the pot were welcome surprises, and the salty/spicy mixture ended up making a great accompaniment to a couple glasses of cold beer. Once the meat was finished, they came by with a clear broth and poured it into the pot to make a soup out of the leftover spices. A quick walk on over to the refrigerator provided the opportunity to pick out some veggies for dunking.
Despite all of this, I won't make any huge effort to come back, in part due to my aversion to soy-sauce-stewed food. But if this place is really as big as it is in China, then I'm glad I tried it. Note: if you don't like gnawing on bones, I'd suggest skipping the namesake chicken version and going straight for the beef, even if the latter was a bit dry and tough.