Uncle Liu's Hot Pot - chow lunch review
7 Hounds met at Uncle Liu’s Hot Pot for lunch today. There is a buffet there, and if you go at lunch there seems to be a pattern where you need to reiterate that yes, you really do want hot pot.
The biggest ding in my book is that the hot pot is served on a burner brought from the back and set on the table top – no sunken pots in the middle of the table. Also, the bigger tables are next to the buffet.
We got one spicy pot and one of the ying-yang pots (spicy and mild chicken broth). Both broths were very good. Thanks to a mid-meal broth refill we figured out that the base is the same for both – they must just add spicy ingredients for that one before bringing it to the table. There is a sauce station that is a little hidden and not marked at all, but had a number of sauce offerings (you can “build your own” sauce).
For dishes, we ordered lamb, lotus, taro, tripe, cabbage, dumplings, and squid. The lamb and cabbage were outstanding – the cabbage really soaking up the broth. The dumplings were good as well. The lotus and taro need to really cook for a while, and then as one diner said, the taro comes out “as hot as the sun” in terms of temp. The squid took a few passes to get the right cooking time down. I believe 40 seconds exactly on a high boil was the winner.
We noticed a Chinese table that was seated near the end of our meal approached it by dumping a lot of things in there (I'm assuming at different times), then dipping out the melange, and they put it directly into their sauce bowls. Personally I'd do this next time but still put it on my plate or in my bowl and sauce from there. Oh, and on that note, a little bowl of the chicken broth is VERY nice and well balanced. Has body without being full "stock".
It’s definitely a type of fare to have with a group – probably 3-4 minimum and due to table sizes there, maxed out around 8.
In other news, the buffet looks decent – certainly the most intriguing Chinese buffet I’ve ever seen. Also - and very important, they have THREE menus. One is the Hot Pot menu, the second is similarish to HKP, but missing a few items. When I inquired about the cumin lamb, they pulled out a one sheet menu that had that dish, frog, eel, and other assorted dishes. Not sure why the cumin dish was pulled out of the main one, but…
Hey! Where was the announcement on this? I'd have love to have joined, but the last I saw was some idle chatter about maybe doing it on the last chow lunch thread.
I was even at Liu's yesterday, and did the buffet for lunch on the theory that I'd be able to get my hot pot fix relatively soon via chow lunch.
The spicy broth is outstanding. The mild version is nice and can be flavored differently with any number of sauces or condiments available. I think the dumplings and the taro make for interesting and delicious add-ins. Potato noodles (clear, often called yam noodles elsewhere) were a bit of a waste.
In my mind this is best as a group, so I'm very glad we could make this outing. Thanks for posting, Dennis.
Incidentally, when we went next door to Great Wall to buy dumplings to have with the excess broth we took home to go, we discovered that Great Wall sells packages of hot pot soup base. These are in the glassed in freezer cases that face the produce section, close to the seafood counter.
The buffet IS decent, with some dim sum items and a few chengdu items. Today we saw people walking past with whole steamed blue crabs.