“My first not-so-pleasant hot pot dining experience with Peir 88 of Tau Heung branch restaraunts in Hong Kong. Read this now and pick up some tips ad tricks here on how to order your hotpot meal in Hong Kong pleasantly!”
2nd day of my HK ‘return‘ trip, we had ALL-TIME-BEST Dim Sum brunch at the City Hall Maxim’s Palace (大会堂美心皇宮) located at City Hall Low Block 2nd Floor, Hong Kong. I strived to make it a sure-thing to have Dim Sum there again whenever I return for a vacation. I simply loved the Dim Sum here, especially their steaming hot, soft and flowy custard bun with fragrant salted egg yolk, still as nice as a year ago..
Well, with no extended elaboration on this again (since I have posted this in my previous post: Hong Kong DIM SUM at Maxim Palace City Hall), I am going on to my super-lavish hot pot dinner!
I am not too sure if this hotpot place is worth recommended to you as we had both pleasant and not-so-pleasant experiences in our first hot pot dining experience with one of the Tao Heung restaurants in Hong Kong. So, it depends on how you see it. Perhaps, you will get some ideas on how to go about for having hotpot meal in Hong Kong, after reading my blog, that helps to make only pleasant dining experience to you (winking smile).
I surfed quite alot on hotpot locations before setting off to Hong Kong, and my considerations were streamed down to choices between Yau Gwat Hei Hotpot (有骨氣火煱專門店) which serve value priced buffet after certain hours, and one of the branch restaurants of Tau Heung Holdings (稻香集团) which looks more elegant than the other. After gathered much feedback, I finally chose Tao Heung Pier 88 aka Tao Heung Super 88 (稻香超級漁港) under Tao Heung Holdings, mainly for its central location which was convenient to us. It was crowded on Friday night inside the restaurant as we took a glance from the entrance, but we managed to get a table without waiting even though we saw many people were waiting at the entrance (..tell you why later.).
Choice of soup stock – Great selections of soup stock:
Food items including the options of soup stocks and even the condiments/ dipping sauce were so extensive and some were unique to me. Let’s see how I ordered the soup stock… There were many choices of both superier (HK$68/ S$12) and standard soup stocks (HK$48/ S$8.50) and the price varies depends on your choice. They served also the set/ combination menu of hotpot ingredients which the soup stock of your choice is usually complimentary. We ordered a ‘Yuan Yang’ soup stock which serves two different soup stocks of your choice, and we had half side of Coriander and century egg soup (comes with plentiful of corianders and century eggs in the soup, taste of soup was pleasantly tasty with a hint of natural sweetness), and half side of Satay soup (with mild Satay flavour, it was not very impressive but good enough to taste, especially after adding many food in it), and it shouldn’t costs much difference as compared with single choice of common soup stock, if I remembered correctly. So, it’s just a matter of preference.
My humble recommendation:
Coriander and century egg soup (皮蛋芫荽汤底) – *My order
Satay soup – *My favourite, taste not thick enough, but I liked.
Superier soup – Drunken chicken soup comes with large pieces of chicken meat (醉雞火鍋湯底)- *As reserch shown
Replenishment of soup stock – It’s just refill of hot water:
If you need to refill the soup, do not be shocked if they pour in hot plain water. Yes, they do not replenish the soup stock but plain water. And don’t you need to ask them why, it’s simply because the first soup base will be a lot thicker and stronger by the time you ask for a refill, even though the soup left just a little. I guess so. We were OK with the taste of the soup even after two replenishments with hot water though.
Premium hotpot ingredients – worth ordering if you are going for more superier quality:
As for hotpot ingredients, we did not order any of the veggie set, meat or seafood sets in the menu (which some said it’s more worthwhile to order the sets) as we thought some of the items in the set were not what we wanted. Instead, I ordered a plate of live fish slices dish (Good type of live fish which they will immediately slice and serve the pieces or deli-thin slices decorately which obviously costs more (HK$128/ S$23) than usual fish slices (HK$30/ S$5.50) listed in the menu. Don’t ask me how to determine if it’s really from live fish, I wouldn’t know and no big deal I ordered based on benefit of doubt with trust on their business integrity. Smile..) I would not also miss placing order of sashimi Geoduck (not any duck related food, but one type of giant clams which its flesh that comes out from the shell looks like a tiny elephant trunk) dish! Eating sashimi geo duck was my childhood memory when my parents first brought me to Hong Kong, and I fell in love with it. The sashimi geo duck was so fresh and it can be eaten raw or simply blanch in the soup for few seconds if you want to eat it slightly warmer. Yes, we did prefer to eat warm sometimes, when we have gone bored eating it raw with dipping of Japanese wasabi in light soy sauce. The sashimi geo duck costs about HK$148/ S$26 per serving.
My humble recommendations:
Geo duck sashimi (象拔蚌刺身) *See pic on top
Live fish slices (活鱼起片) *See pic on right
Deli-thin Angus beef slices (安格斯肥牛) – *We did not take beef, but saw many diners enjoyed it. Check out their menu then.
Ala-carte order per dish – for the usual hotpot ingredients, if you are not ordering the sets:
As for other ala-carte dishes, I ordered prawns, clams, Osmanthus mussels, dumplings, wantons noodles, vegetables, yam, and MANY balls dishes! Way too much! For two of us, we had a large plate each of fish balls, prawn balls, handmade minced pork meat balls, large pork meat balls, squid balls, chicken balls and etc (I was ‘blind-folded’ by all the alluring food pictures on the menu when placing order, just wanted to try a little of each, in fact.). They were all large serving with 12 pcs in each item, delicious and value for money with the generous portion they served (generally HK$28 – $40/ S$5.50 – $8 per dish).
Tempted to order ALL the listed, but I would highly recommend the Osmanthus mussles (桂花蚌) which was initially recommended by the attendant. Osmanthus mussles is NOT a mussel, and has NO relationship with any type of clams, Osmanthus mussel is actually the internal organs of sea cucumbers (海参). It does not smell or taste awful at all. Instead, it tasted so crunchy with natural sweetness yielded from it, after a quicky blanched in boiling soup. The Osmanthus mussles look beautiful, and it is nutritious to be eaten.
My humble recommendation:
Osmanthus mussels (桂花蚌) – *Sorry, forgot the pic shot.
Shrimps *See the cute crooked shrimps after cooked pic right on top
Wanton *See first pic on top
Handmade minced pork meat balls
Special House Udon
Beef slices *As research shown
Compulsory charge for condiments – A tray of 8 different condiments will be served, try it all:
Eating hotpot in Hong Kong is fun as even their condiments come in varieties. There were 8 types of condiments to be chosen and these condiments do come with a compulsory extra charges of HK$8/ S$1.50 per pax. It’s alright to charge for condiments, but the staff actually took away the whole tray of condiments after first time use. We had to constantly request for more condiments before they brought the tray back to us. Not sure why, but this usually not the case as I saw many tables had their own tray permanently placed on the table. Perhaps, our table was over-whelmed with food without a single space for extras, anymore (rolling eyes). Between, there was no saucer for you, top and mix all the sauce direct on the food after cooked. Maybe you can try asking for sauce, not sure as we did not (smile).
Over-ordering! Please do not over-order, the serving of each dish is HUGE:
Let’s also talk about the not-so-positive side of our experience.. Frankly, I am still not sure if it was utterly my fault for being greedy or the lack of right attitude of the staff/ attendant who served us.. The story goes like this.. When come to ordering of food, hubby always leaves the job to me as I am usually the in-charge of food while pay master has to be him (laughing). However, I ordered WAY too much food this time! God knows, the portion of each item served so largely, enough to feed 6 – 8 diners! See our tableful of large hotpot ingredient dishes, we had only TWO of us dined in late in the evening. I seriously thought that it is their job to advise customers to order the right portion based on their experiences, or at least take initiative to ask the customer if it will be too much (or too little) food he/ she has ordered!! OK.. I might be seen to expect alot from them to do beyond their core, but for goodness sake, if seeing only two of us with more than 10 dishes ordered and as a staff there who only you know the portion is large and not the first-time customers/ tourists like us, don’t you think they should at least show some due diligence to drop a hint that our orders were usually good for xx number of pax or out of good will, briefly ask us if we could really finish the orders, instead of just taking order “blindly”!!? (I hate to waste food.. sob..)
Good discount rates for dining in after 9pm:
And, do you remember I was telling you that we saw many people waited by the entrance and we could just walked in at 8pm++, and be seated without a line? And now you know why… dine-in after 9pm will be offered with late-night discounted prices for most hotpot items which equivalent to about 20 – 30% less the total bill of HK$780/ S$140 which we could have paid, with just 15 minutes more to 9pm. :(
Well, I guess such will not be counted as their responsibility, seeing from their business sense of view. To save my own bulks, I could have been more mindful to remember this. Anyway, I wouldn’t mind paying the regular price at all, if the food and service are worthwhile. Since this was our first time having hotpot in Hong Kong, I will know better next time.
Hubby said it was OK for not able to finish up all the food (with just a little of each dish, we ended up leaving half the orders on table) as long as we were happy with the meal. :) Yes, I was happy then, and whenever going on a vacation. Always do..
Summary on ideas to order Hotpot meal:
* Do not over order as each serving comes with large portion.
* Order the combination set for small group. Repeat order a little by a little (from their ala carte menu) only later, if necessary. They serve pretty fast. *See fish items set on right pic.
* Dine in after 9pm for good offers, especially if you are on vacation and do not mind eating late.
* Take away the leftovers: If you wished, ask for disposable food box to take away the leftovers. They will be happy to pack it for you for any food items you could not finish there.
Brief descriptions on the difference of two branches of Tao Heung restaurants under Tao Hueng Holdings Limited -
稻香 (Tao Heung)
“Tao Heung” specializes in the hotpot business. It assimilates different culture and maintains its original characteristics at the same time. In order to fulfill different customers’ need, “Tao Heung” targets in creative and healthy hot pot food.
稻香超級漁港 (Pier 88)
Pier 88 is renowned for its fresh, value-for-money seafood and distinguished hot pot. Our kitchen masters with ample experience in seafood cuisine are scrupulous from selection of ingredients, cooking to final product, so as to maintain our superior quality in both outputs and services.