HotPoT Tonight Karachi - REVIEW
BY SHAKEEL HAMEED
TAR RATING: 7.5 out of 10
COST: RS. 20,000-25,000 for 5 people
Hotpot Tonight, a hotpot/Korean BBQ restaurant entreating the new Karachi craze. The menu has a good variety of hotpot items and multiple broths which complement the whole hotpot dining experience. It also offers Korean BBQ as a set menu.
Hotpot Tonight is located on the roof top of a building with enough space to serve 60-70 people at a time and carries a decent clean décor. The rooftop has a nice Karachi urban view with top 40 music going on in the back ground.
TABLE AND STAFF
The staff was very attentive and served to all of our needs and is very polite. The table was set up once we sat down. One thing that stood out was the red color plastic plates and bowls. Eating food in a plastic crockery isn’t part of refined dining experience. A good dining experience requires nicer crockery and tasteful serving dishes which was absent in this case.
Mixtures and Broth – Suli’s Special, Malatang, Sichuan
There are total 4 kind of sauces for the hotpot from spicy to very mild. A funky metal container is brought on to the table which has the base sauce i.e Sichuan sauce, then chicken broth is added to create the mixture. The container base has a burning flame which cooks the mixture. We tried all Suli’s Special, Malatang and Sichuan and all 3 of them were clean and tasted great.
Proteins, Vegetables, Noodles
Proteins - Cured meats, Octopus, Calamari, Prawns, Lamb, Bean Sprouts, Brown Beech Mushrooms, Bok choy, Chinese Cabbage, Potatoes, Noodles.
We separated the 3 mixture with 3 different combinations of ingredients. All 3 had noodles as the first drop since they take the longest to cook. The noodles were fantastic and had a firm bite to it, no sticky starch on them. The seafood had no smell but the lamb and seafood had a little bit of water in them so you could tell that it had been either thawed or had been in the cooler, when cooked they tasted fine. I am not sure what cured meat is doing in the hotpot menu, it didn’t add much to the dish and tasted flat. The vegetables were fresh. The hotpot came with soy chili sauce and sesame garlic sauce. Overall, the mixture held the taste, when cooked over time, the flavors got better and sometimes salty but in essence it turned out to be decent dining experience.
Chicken and Shrimp Dumplings
We tried both chicken and shrimp dumplings. The essential issue with the dumplings was the dough, they didn’t get the dough right. The manager insisted on getting it right and they tried 3 times but each time the issue didn’t get fixed, the dough remained chewier. The filling of both dumplings was fine. If they can fix the dough, this will be a good appetizer.
Korean BBQ set comes pre-fixed and marinated. They were accompanied by Asian apple Pear sauce, Ssamjang Sauce, Spicy peanut sauce and Suli special Sauce. I tried all the sauces but they didn’t stand out.
The First course was tenderloin and cured meats. There was a staff member who cooked on the table. The whole experience of cooking Korean BBQ is to do it yourself. Staff often doesn’t know how to cook the meat to your liking. The cook proceeded to put the beef in lettuce wraps and added some sauce to it. Upon tasting, we opted to tell him to remove the lettuce as it was not complementing the beef. The first course of beef was cold as he waited too long to make the wraps and by the time it hit our palate, the flavor had already flattened and all we tasted was cold beef. I had asked him to send only hot beef off the grill which tasted much better. The tenderloin quality was good and we enjoyed eating it. Cured meat didn’t do much and was flat and bland.
The 2nd course was Chicken which even after marination was bland and crumbled in my mouth. I felt odd as one is used to the chicken tear as opposed to crumbled chicken upon biting. It was cooked right and was hot but bulgogi wasn’t apparent in it at all and blandness of the chicken was apparent. Then came turkey bacon, they were undercooked and it’s an odd item to be on the Korean BBQ menu.
The 3rd course was tuna and prawns. Both of them tasted fine and were not over cooked so very enjoyable and juicy.
We were also offered Cucumber, Pickled Egg and 2 new items, marinated Zucchini and Aubergine. The picked cucumbers were right out crunchy and pickled well. Pickled Egg flavors were over taken by the egg white and the yolk so I tasted the egg only and not the pickled part. The Marinated Zucchini and Aubergine which were sautéed in sesame oil, sesame paste and miso paste were done perfectly well, I really enjoyed these sides, they added a nice flare to the food. Well Done.
Although we had asked for the Korean BBQ to be put on hold in the beginning as we weren’t sure how full we will be but the chef insisted that we had ordered it and now it cannot be taken back. As a customer, you go to a restaurant to experience not only the food but the ambiance and service but in this case, it left as if food had been pushed upon us. In addition, we had ordered single dish of each and two of each were brought on the table. I do not mind paying for it if a miscommunication has occurred but it wasn’t the case in this respect. It is polite for the restaurant to entertain and accommodate their customers. They will appreciate your graciousness and tell everyone about it and will return to your place because of the pleasant experience. As far as food is concerned, it is a decent spot with decent quality food with some improvements to be made.