Emperor Hotpot is all about getting back to the basics. Unlike many of its fellow hot pot counterparts, this restaurant doesn't offer gimmicks. Rather, it's about the quintessential classic hot pot experience in a modern environment. Its location near Pacific Mall makes it the perfect place to end a day of shopping for Asian-inspired knick-knacks.
The location is spacious. The interior dĂŠcor straddles the fine line between a conventional look and a more modern approach. The seating layout is comfortable, though some spots can be a bit tight.
The hot pot here is, as per the norm, AYCE. The pricing starts at $25.95, and your choice of broths start from $2.50. Emperor Hotpot takes pride from the fact that all of its broths' seasonings are made from scratch, in-house.
I decide to order the ominous-sounding Emperor Very Spicy Soup (+$3) because, well, why not? Turns out, the name is an understatement. Extremely fiery with pops of Szechuan peppercorns, it's one of the spiciest hot pot broths I've ever had. It is not for those with timid tastebuds.
I also get the twin-pot option (+$6) with the Emperor Green Pepper Soup and the Sa Teh Soup. The pepper soup's beautiful green broth has a lot of body. The Sa Teh Soup provides a nice contrast with its milder, nutty flavour. These two make a good combination.
Not to be overlooked is the selection of deep-fried goodness you can get here. I love that the restaurant serves you fried snacks while you wait for your hot pot to arrive, as well as in between orders. These provide a welcome reprieve from the steamy vapours of the hot pot experience.
The Emperor Deep Fried Lotus Root Ball is a favourite of mine. It is an item that I wish more restaurants would offer. The fried pork fillets are also ridiculously tender. There's a nice sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce to go with these two dishes.
Among those items that are included at no extra cost are the delicious New Zealand lamb and Angus beef. These come very highly recommended and go great with the dipping sauces.
My recommendation is a mix of the homemade sesame and the spicy sauces. Add a touch of garlic oil, and you've got yourself a bona fide hot pot sauce.
Make sure to try the multitude of meatballs here. A far cry from the tapioca-laden varieties you encounter in supermarkets, the meatballs here are fresh and succulent. My personal favourite is the Emperor shrimp balls, with a whole fresh shrimp contained inside this unassuming sphere.
If you don't mind paying a bit more for premium options, I highly recommend the ribeye wagyu beef slices (+$32). It is one of the finest cuts of meat I've ever had, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is simply delightful.
Essential to any hot pot experience are the beverages you will inevitably need to cool your tastebuds. The watermelon juice (+$3.50) is refreshing and freshly made in house. The plum juice (+$2) is also a good alternative for those who prefer sweeter drinks.
Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo. When not writing for blogTO he can usually be found tweeting here or pressing words into this blog . Photos by Hector Vasquez.