Steamboat (or hot pot) restaurants are gaining popularity among young Singaporeans nowadays with hoards of people flocking to the hyped up restaurants. Slowly but surely, steamboat is shedding the reputation of being cheap and buffet style with people recognising the value in paying a more premium price for a good quality experience (ingredients, service and ambiance wise).
It was just a few years ago when I still hated and avoided steamboat (can’t fault me for that, because the ones I’ve had in the past were really bad – think processed frozen ingredients, bland soup, unfresh and exposed meat from buffet spread, unhygienic setting), but with the introduction of good steamboat restaurants in Singapore, I’ve become a convert and nowadays I’m always looking forward to my next steamboat meal. If you still expect steamboat to be in low cost buffet form, I urge you to try it at proper restaurant and you’ll never get stomach ache after eating ever again.
This new steamboat restaurant I’m trying today has it’s concept from Macau and is actually slightly different from the usual Sichuan/ Chongqing steamboat that we see more of in Singapore. They call it Dou Lao (which non literal meaning refers to fishing for fortune). They key difference is the soup is usually light and ingredients seafood based because Macau is coastal and has abundance of seafood, as opposed to Sichuan/ Chongqing where Ma La Spicy Soup is used mainly and with meat as main ingredient because the area is landlocked (hence they have more meat than seafood). Light soup is best for fresh seafood because you want to taste the original fresh flavours. As for appearance wise, Dou Lao is served in individual pots but everything else is typically the same.
If you have Dou Lao in China, you would find huge aquariums with fresh seafood, but of course in Singapore we don’t have that much. Still, Fu Lin Men Dou Lao here has a decent variety of seafood including everybody’s favorite lobster. Honestly, for other Sichuan style steamboat restaurants, I tend to order only meat and vegetables, skipping the seafood because it isn’t great there. I guess for Fu Lin Men Dou Lao the seafood would be better.
The whole interior of this restaurant was intentionally designed to look like it’s from China (although the owner is local) with gold tone accents and a theme for each floor of this 3 storey restaurant. Ground floor was themed as the ocean, second floor as the mountains and third floor as the sky. Like typical restaurants in China, they have several private rooms and it can fit up to 12 pax in the largest one. Private rooms are on the second and third storeys. The common area on the third floor is usually used for private events and you can book the entire area for privacy. This is especially useful for corporate functions since the restaurant is located in the CBD and the room even comes with a projector installed for presentations if required.
For the public, we can also book private rooms if desired, at no extra cost.
6 seater room.
4 seater room – only one available.
If you have less than 4 pax, it is also possible to book a private room even if it’s just 2 or 3 of you. I was quite thrilled with this idea because steamboat restaurants tends to be noisy and crowded and a private room will make the dining experience much better.
They have 4 soup bases here: Signature Golden Imperial Pot, Longevity Tofu Soup Base (collagen), Sizzling Chilli Soup Base (Ma La), Vitality Wild & Cultured Mushroom Pot (Herbal).
Everyone else at the tasting opted for the Signature soup but I opted for the collagen soup because I’m a sucker for things like that. It was very light – too light in fact. I may get the Signature soup next time.
Free flow of sauces, appetizers, fruits, instant noodles and pudding for $2/pax. In other popular chains like Imperial Treasure and Hai Di Lao, condiments and sauces are also chargeable at $2/pax.
If I was having the Ma La Spicy soup I could skip the sauces (since my meat would soak up a lot of spices and oil from the soup), but since I was having a very light soup base today, I needed some spicy sauce concoction to flavour up my food.
Time for a feast.
Fortune Chalice – $38.00++
Not a steamboat dish. This contains abalone and was full of flavours. A reputable chef from China was brought in to oversee the kitchen and this was his creation. This means that this restaurant not only serves steamboat, but also other cooked dishes. (However, I find having cooked dishes unnecessary during a steamboat experience.)
Oriental Greens and Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms – $10.00++
Roars of Success Lion’s Mane Mushroom with Chicken Fillet – $12.00++
The chicken was kind of unnecessary to me.
Wild Bamboo Pith with Fresh Prawn Paste – $18.00++
Bountiful Blessings of Three Treasures – $28.00++
Morel, Matsutake & Lion’s Mane Mushroom
I love these types mushrooms and it’s my first time having it in steamboat.
Fresh Beancurd Pockets with Fresh Seafood Paste – $10.00++
Freshly Cultured Sea Prawns with Marbled Beef – $18.00++
Yes, very fresh. But perhaps cooking the beef and prawn separately would be better to get ideal doneness for both?
Beer Marinated Marbled Beef – $28.00++
The beer flavour maintained on the cooked meat and was really strong. It could be just me but I found the beer unnecessary. I preferred to have the beef on it’s own. The quality of meat here was good.
Family Bliss Freshly Handcrafted Dou Lao Meat Balls – $7.00++
Squid-meat ball with spinach, squid ball with chocolate, pork meat ball with water chestnut and black fungus, seafood-meat ball with golden mushrooms, beef meat ball with cheese, prawn ball with golden roe
Looking good. Honestly in most steamboat restaurants, I didn’t quite fancy their homemade balls. But this one actually stood out and most were really good!
Lot’s of ingredients are in them, not just flour. The balls were great. Highly recommended. The squid with chocolate however, didn’t quite work for me. The chocolate tasted like low quality chocolate.
Grand Imperial Premium Bird’s Nest – $28.00++
Given such price I would expect some quality but the taste of this was not nice at all. I can only describe the type of sweetness as weird, somewhat like the homemade barley drink or soya milk from Hai Di Lao (I never order their drinks, it tastes weird). I’m not even getting to the point of how little bird nest there is in there. The taste of the bulk of liquid was just not nice.
House of Gold Pineapple Glutinous Rice – $9.00++
This one was not worth trying too. It was just heaps of sugar to me. Anyway, you don’t really need desserts at a hot pot restaurant. Just skip these and have more room for the main food.
Overall the experience here was good. It would be even better if I could choose the dishes I liked (but that’s personal preference). The quality of ingredients was generally up to standard (except for desserts, do skip it) and the ambiance and service was great.
They do run promotions for weekdays or lunch so do check out before heading there so you can secure the best deals.
This tasting was arranged by Open Rice.
Overall: One of the better steamboat restaurants, especially good for seafood
Fu Lin Men Dou Lao 福临门豆捞
16 North Canal Road
SMS/Whatsapp/WeChat: 9099 1777
11:00 – 23:00