The Drunken Pot
Tsim Sha Tsui
Date of review: February 12, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
The location of The Drunken Pot is a slight challenge: on the second floor of a new building in Tsim Sha Tsui off Observatory Road, there are actually two hotpot restaurants. Yet guests will find the unique setting and décor of The Drunken Pot standing out against its neighbour. The restaurant greets you with its young, energetic vibe, with street art along one side facing comfortable rows of booths and evenly spaced tables set against a small patio. The square dining space, with contemporary light fixtures and red floor to ceiling panels introduce more colours to the main dining space. We suggest settling in the high-backed booths, which comfortably seat four with room to spare, overlooking the sashimi bar and mixology area on one side and the spacious private dining rooms on the other.
The hotpot experience is a culinary endpoint, with a standard pattern of ordering a soup base, some ingredients to be added to the communal pot of simmering soup and enjoying them piping hot. The Drunken Pot instills creativity in its menu, particularly with their homemade items and soup bases. The drunken pot is a five-in-one pot featuring four different soup bases (Teochew satay; Sichuan numbing spicy; shrimps, crab and clams’ as well as seafood soup with squid ink) and the centre of the pot showcases a hollowed-out whole papaya with small shrimps. Sake is added to the pot and the soup simmers until it is flambéed, intensifying the aroma of wine and fruitiness from the papaya.
You cannot have hotpot without beef, and the large platter of local hand-cut beef is a safe bet, while thinly sliced beef tongues bring a pleasant bite after seconds in the simmering broth. Bone marrow yields a soft creamy texture and particularly great in spicy broths like the satay and Sichuan hot soup. Deep-fried tofu and seaweed rolls need a quick dip in the hot broths to soak up the flavours while maintaining the crunch, while cuttlefish balls are reliable choice of meatballs. Choose your dumplings wisely, as black truffle, shrimp and crabmeat dumplings are on the substantial side and the meat was bland. The fish maw and shrimp dumplings, however, are more tender and with better flavours.
Guests can choose to start a meal with sashimi, as platters are generous and selection is vast, but we saved out appetite with steamed soup dumplings, or xiaolongbaos. The thin, fragile wrapper encases a light broth and meaty filling. The 6-colour soup dumplings will give you one of each variety, from lobster soup to crab meat and roe. Nibbles and hot dishes are well portioned, as fried spicy lingzhi mushrooms bring a mound of crunchy mushrooms best served with deep-fried garlic crumbs. Sweet and sour riblets arrived piping hot but the meat may fare better cut in bigger pieces instead.
At the time of our visit The Drunken Pot has yet to obtain a valid liquor license. The restaurant currently introduces a small selection of mocktails, juices, and sodas for guests.
The Drunken Pot is a popular restaurant, as advanced reservations are a must to secure a table. Staff is attentive and helpful as the earlier session of dinner service commenced, but as the establishment filled up to full capacity, service can get out of hand and multiple requests need to be reaffirmed. Guests are advised to keep a clear account of their orders as mix-ups occur rather often when the restaurant is full.
A full sharing dinner for two with service charge amounts to HK$1,000. For the rich array and quality of creative house specials, the Drunken Pot is a guaranteed mecca for hotpot lovers and worthy of future returns.