By Lindsay Anderson
Special to The Post
Even though I’ve never experienced a Chinese New Year, in Richmond one can’t help but feel the pre-celebration buzz.
Decorations are hung and grocery stores are packed, with everyone wanting to ensure there’s enough food in the house for several thousand visitors, just in case.
For Chinese new year, my friends joined me for dinner at Garden City Hot Pot.
It was packed, so I was very glad I made a reservation, and suggest you do the same on a weekend.
Broths were varying prices, and platters of vegetables, meat, and seafood vary in cost from around $6 to $20 a plate.
My previous experiences for hot pot dining were all you can eat.
And so here’s the thing: even though I never thought these words would leave my lips (or rather, my fingertips, since I’m typing), I have to say that when it comes to hot pot, I prefer all you can eat.
Because you can try a much wider variety of items, and don’t have to mentally add up your total each time you order something new. We paid almost the same amount, but didn’t eat as much food and had a lot less variety.
The big bonus at Garden City Hot Pot, however, is the complimentary sauce cart, which has over a dozen options you can mix and match for your own customized bowl.
In various combinations, we all mixed fresh cilantro with satay, sesame, garlic, chilis, and soy to make addictive bowls of saucy gold. Having fresh cilantro was the real kicker.
We divided our pot into two sections, one with chicken broth and the other vegetarian/vegan-friendly (a simple stock made with cabbage, tofu, and water).
We opted for the 3 vegetable combo with Japanese pumpkin (now one of my favourite hot pot picks), watercress, and baby bok choy; frozen tofu; a dozen dumplings; lotus root; fatty beef slices; and udon noodles.
It was a filling, healthy, and tasty meal.
I’d have preferred if the fatty beef slices were sliced thinner, but they were very good, and just the right amount for us.
Plus, it was garnished with a baby carrot that itself had been garnished with a stalk of curly parsley, which also brought me an unexpected amount of joy.
The dumplings were really good, and the lotus root proved to be a table favourite.
I could have happily had more Japanese pumpkin, which was sweet, creamy, and added a lot to the broth. We also all loved the udon noodles, which cook up quickly and are perfection with satay sauce and fresh cilantro.
Lindsay Anderson is dining out at 365 Richmond eateries in 365 days for Tourism Richmond. The Asian Pacific Post is featuring excerpts from her blog each week. See www.365daysofdining.com
for Anderson’s blog.