Cultural Experience · Foreigner in Formosa · Taiwan

{Foreigner in Formosa} Heavenly Hot Pot

Last night, my friend and I went to a hot pot restaurant in town. There are lots of places in Taiwan that serve hot pot; many restaurants offer it as a menu option alongside noodles, dumplings, and other delicacies. At those restaurants, you order a set meal of raw items that come with a boiling pot of broth over an individual burner, and you cook the items in the broth as you please. Many people enjoy ordering hot pot at restaurants like these, but I tend to reserve my hot pot orders for places like the restaurant my friend and I went to last night.

The restaurant we visited is called Shabu-Shabu, and it’s a chain buffet hot pot place. At Shabu-Shabu, you begin by picking your soup or broth. I went with “Health Chicken Soup” (not a typo on my part), and my friend got a tomato soup base for hers. Then you choose from a huge buffet-style assortment of raw ingredients: cabbage, lettuce, dry noodles, shrimp, seafood balls, pork, beef, chicken, dumplings, squid, fish, green beans, pumpkin, eggs, tofu, and many other delicious and/or strange options. You return to your table with your overflowing plate of ingredients, and you’re ready to drop some of them into your boiling broth (in your individual hot pot directly in front of you and recessed into the table) and watch them cook. You can also choose from a delectable array of ingredients to create a dipping sauce for your meal. You are welcome to refill your plates of ingredients and your broth in the pot as many times as you like–or as much as your stomach can hold!

As if the unlimited hot pot options aren’t enough, this large restaurant also has buffet items such as fresh sushi, a salad bar, fried rice dishes, cut fresh fruit, glass bottled soda, teas made to order, ice cream, and a dessert bar that features chocolate fondue. Now, the catch is that the all-you-can-eat buffet is a little on the pricey side based on my standards for local cuisine (when I can get a good bowl of noodles for $2 USD), but it’s really worth it for the variety and amount of food that you get. My total bill came to NT390, which is about $13.14 USD. Hey, I can afford to splurge for a delicious, relatively healthy, unique, and even entertaining meal every now and then.

In the picture below, you can see my hot pot–with noodles and a few veggies (top right), my plate of meats and fish (top left), my plate of vegetables (bottom left), and my delicious dipping sauce (bottom right). Just looking at this photo and typing this post makes me want to go back for a second round tonight!

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“Foreigner in Formosa” is a series of short posts about all the things I find winsome, intriguing, and delightful about Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa, meaning “beautiful island” in Portuguese). If you liked this post, take a look at some others in the series.

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