I don’t usually eat steamboat since I do not fancy it, but one day I had a craving for it after seeing a picture of thinly sliced beef for steamboat, at 1am, and I was hungry.
A quick search for steamboat places led me to this place.
It serves ala carte buffet and for Friday night it costs $35.90++/pax.
We had the shark cartilage soup which comes at an additional $20.00++ and the Sze Chuan Ma La soup. Supposedly they were the first ones to introduce Sze Chuan Ma La soup to Singapore! The shark soup had papaya inside, and when disintegrated, the soup became really sweet. On the other hand, the Sze Chuan soup was really salty and spicy. I find that when mixed together, the soup was perfect in balance of flavours. This restaurant claims to not use MSG in their soups, and this was the deciding factor for me to dine here because it’s hard to find no-MSG steamboats in Singapore.
This was obviously not all we had, but just some of them. We ordered many portions of the beef because it was good.
They do have some items which only come once, and they’ll serve it to you without ordering, like the spring roll and rice cake like thing. Supposedly the purpose of it was to reduce the spiciness after having the spicy soup. There are other one time dishes too but none of them were worth mentioning.
Overall, the soup and the beef left me satisfied, but this was definitely not the best steamboat. However, in the buffet category, this is not bad because it’s hard to find decent steamboat buffets. I would say this is comparable to the famous Crystal Jade steamboat buffet, but I am not sure whether or not Crystal Jade uses MSG in their soup.
I know of many locals who treat steamboat as a cheap meal, going for cheap buffets with random MSG laden soups and all. Many may not be willing to fork out any higher than $25 for a steamboat meal because those common steamboat buffets cost less than that. However, I have to stress that there really is a difference. The ingredients are not equal. The natural taste and freshness of the ingredients directly affects the resulting taste of your food. Good ingredients do not come cheap. This is most important to me, and I only like the beef so it must offer good quality beef. At this place, the beef served was not bad – even though there was no marbling, the beef was fresh and most of the time it was bright red.
So here is to explaining why I do not fancy most steamboats:
Firstly, there must always be (good) beef because otherwise I don’t know what is there to eat. Steamboat-ed food ultimately tastes just like boiled food so there should be good condiments to flavour the food if it doesn’t originally have much taste. Beef tastes good on its own so that’s fine but other stuff like I need my sauces. An exception is the Ma La soup because the chilli oil really coats onto the food. But if it’s non strong flavoured soups like chicken soups or pork soup, I’m sorry but the food after boiling tastes plain as it would when boiled in plain water. It’s like you don’t cook your food for THAT long to absorb all the soup flavour. If the soup isn’t very strong in flavour unlike the Ma La soup, it’s even harder to coat the flavour onto the boiled food! Normally the flavour of the food goes into the soup but not the other way around. And I personally do not fancy eating ingredients swimming in a bowl of soup, hence the idea of steamboat just doesn’t work for me, since eating the food separate from the soup gives not much taste. BBQ-ing gives more flavour as you cook it with butter and marinate the food.
If you think I don’t like most steamboat because I don’t get good soup. This is not exactly true, because even with good soup, it doesn’t address my point of no beef and no taste when the food is boiled and strained out of the soup. But on the other hand, the 3rd fail point is exactly bad soup. I mean, if I can’t enjoy the ingredients, at least let me enjoy some soup right? This happened for the Bijin Nabe which had the best soup ever (I am biased, because there was collagen) but with very bland ingredients and minimal condiments.
But that said, I might as well be ordering a bowl of soup instead, if good soup was what I was seeking.
So anyway, the winning formula for a steamboat which suits my taste would be 1)good beef 2)variety of quality condiments 3)good soup. So far the only place which have fulfilled these prerequisites is Imperial Treasure!
Overall: Not the best steamboat, but for buffet with quality soup and beef, this is the place
The Magic of ChongQing Hot Pot
19 Tanglin Road
#04-06/07 Tanglin Shopping Centre
Tel: 6734 8135
Lunch: 12:00 – 15:00
Dinner: 18:00 – 23:00