Simmering Seafood

So I just heard, the latest big thing in town is this seafood hot pot tower. I wasn’t really that keen on trying this, but one of my coworkers was really interested, and he pulled us all along. And because of that, this post was born.

The idea is pretty cool. At the bottom, there’s the ingredients needed to make congee – well, just rice, really. Just to make things interesting, they also put in a chicken stuffed with ginseng (and other Chinese things).

Then, a whole stack of steamers get put on top of that. Each layer has a different seafood item, and since prices are charged per head, they’ll make sure there’s a piece for everyone. Each layer also has large holes for the steam of the seafood to drop down into the congee base, effectively cooking the raw rice with seafood flavour.

Next is the hardest part: the wait. At the very top of that tower, you might notice a red thing sticking out. That’s a thermometer. It starts at like 18 degrees or something, and you have to wait until it gets to 80-90 degrees before you start eating. That’s because everything inside the tower is raw, and nothing will be ready before that!

Depending on the price you paid, you’ll get a different arrangement of seafood. Scallops, abalone, fish, crab, mussels, clams, geoduck… you name it. Here’s most of what we saw:

Finally, you get to taste the congee that’s been simmering for so long. It really was the best part, and even with 5 people, there was way more than enough to go around.

Was it really worth it? Even the cheapest set on their menu is $300. We got the middle one priced at $400, and there’s still another more abundant option at $540. (And with the weak Canadian dollar, those numbers make me feel so much worse than I normally would).

The truth is, the entire tower was simply steamed. They didn’t have any good sauces to go with the dishes, so everything tasted quite bland. And with a simple steamer, there is nothing you can’t easily make at home – it’s not exactly a crazy cheese-baked lobster dish or something.

The congee was good, I’ll give it that. I definitely wouldn’t say it’s worth the price tag, but at least it made me feel like my $400 wasn’t completely gone to waste.

It’s an interesting experience, and also good for me to have some blogging fodder. Otherwise, you’d probably just be hearing about how it’s soooooo cold in Hong Kong these days, and how the ridiculous weather report warned us of snow. (I mean really… snow?! Don’t you think that’s just a bit exaggerated…)

PS. In case you’re interested, you can check it out here: 九重鮮

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