Chine Hot Pot
Chine Hot Pot is proof that Chinatown is finally getting serious about hot pot. This China-based chain joins Morals Village to give downtown denizens a place to get their hot pot fill without making the trek to Scarborough or Markham.
The overall vibe here is chill and unhurried with high ceilings, minimalist decor and traditional Chinese touches setting the mood. Many hot pot restaurants can be cramped or steamy but through the magic of custom-made exhaust vents and soundproofing, Chine successfully defies this convention.
The hot pot here is AYCE. $23.99 for adults on weekdays, with an additional $2 surcharge on weekends.
No stranger to spice, I try the Legendary Spicy Broth (+$3), though I opt for the milder version so as to not completely obliterate my tastebuds. It's actually quite nice, and provides a strong peppercorn flavour that doesn't overwhelm.
Those looking for something at the other end of the scale can try the Creamy Corn & Taro Broth (+$3), which has a milder, earthier flavour. The broth itself is tasty enough to drink.
Chine has a sauce station where you mix your own dipping sauces. Try the sesame sauce with some hot sauce, leek sauce and parsley.
From the long list of ingredients, my personal favourite is the Spiced Beef. Thick, fatty cuts of beef are covered in Chinese five-spice. There's lots of flavour and texture and has a strong meaty taste that I appreciate.
The New Zealand lamb slices are also some of the best I've had. The texture is almost buttery and the meat does a good job absorbing the broth it's cooked in.
One item not to miss is the Screaming Chili Beef. This is essentially tender beef wrapped around a whole chili pepper. Cook it in the spicy broth and try to eat the whole thing without whimpering.
What would hot pot be without snacks? The Legendary Deep Fried Pork Slice is crispy and flavourful, resplendent with Szechuan peppercorns.
For dessert, the Golden Chinese Bread is fried just right and served with a side of condensed milk for dipping. Make sure to eat these right when they arrive at your table.